According to British researchers, supplementation with relatively low levels of beta-carotene or lycopene is not associated with either a beneficial or detrimental effect on several aspects of immune health.
As people age, their immune system begins to weaken. Previous research has suggested that a diet rich in tomato products, which contain the antioxidants lycopene and beta-carotene, might help protect infection-fighting white blood cells from damage inflicted on them by free radical particles, which are by-products of normal metabolism.
The researchers monitored the immune systems of 52 healthy men and women over the age of 65. Volunteers were split into three different groups. All took a pill every day for 12 weeks. One group took 13.3 milligrams (mg) of lycopene, another took 8.3 mg of beta-carotene, and the third group took an inactive placebo. The results showed no changes in the levels of circulating white blood cells, lymphocytes or other immune cells.
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