Tomato-based Supplements to Protect From UV Damage and Photo-aging
A Secret Anti-Aging Food: Tomatoes?
Research Spotlight: Tomato based supplement protects skin from UV damage and photo-aging processes
From a young age, we’re told to eat tomatoes for their health benefits, such as reducing the incidence of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic diseases.1 However, the tomato impacts more than just our internal health; the tomato itself can act as an anti-aging superfood and influence our skin health as well. In a recent pre-clinical study, researchers tested the anti-aging power of this superfood to fully understand the plant’s overall health potential.2
Testing this Anti-aging Food: The Power of Consuming Tomatoes on Skin
The pre-clinical study was done on human keratinocytes to analyze and evaluate the photoprotective effects of a tomato plant extract on human skin cells. The researchers found that the tomato-based extract contained severalantioxidants,2 which defend the body against age inducing free radicals found in air particles.3 They found that the extract could also protect against UV damage,2 which is known to cause sunburns and accelerate the aging process.4 Furthermore, this tomato extract inhibited UV-induced IL-6 secretions, indicating it’s potential to prevent swelling from sunburns. When combined with a rosemary-based extract, the tomato-based extract acted as a stronger anti-aging superfood and reduced the severity of sunburns once they appeared.2 These effects are summarized below.
Summary of the Mechanisms Behind Anti-Aging Properties of Tomatoes:2
- Provides photoprotection from UV damage
- Activates the antioxidant defense mechanism (EpRE/ARE)
- Inhibits pro-inflammatory cellular processes (such as UV-induced IL-6 secretion)
- Regulates the expression of UV-inducible genes serving as biomarkers to skin health (such as ICAM-I, HO-1, MMP-1)
*Note: these effects were observed when combining a carotenoid-rich tomato nutrient complex with a rosemary-based extract, indicating a synergistic relationship between the two.
Topical Application of Tomato-Based Products
There is currently no scientific evidence that topical application of tomato-based products can offer the same benefits as oral consumption of tomatoes, as described above. Tomatoes contain antioxidants (such as the carotenoids lycopene and beta carotene), potassium, magnesium, and vitamin A/B/C.5 Because of this ingredient profile, it has been hypothesized that topical application of tomato-based products could promote:
- Wound healing (due to the vitamin C component)
- Stimulate collagen production (due to the vitamin C component)
- Soothe skin inflammation (due to the lycopene, beta carotene, vitamin E/C components)
- Promote anti-aging (due to vitamin B)
- Fight cellular damage in the skin (due to lycopene and beta carotene)
- Moisturize skin (due to potassium)
These are all hypotheses, however, and there is currently no evidence to support these claims. Additionally, caution should be taken before applying any tomato-based products to the skin as tomatoes are acidic in nature and may induce irritation and erythema.6
A New Look at Anti-aging: Through Food
It is common knowledge that tomato consumption is good for the body’s internal health. However, this study’s findings suggest oral consumption of tomato’s nutrients may also protect the body’s external organs such as the skin from aging as well by influencing how the skin reacts to sun damage.2 Although further research is needed to explore the tomato’s anti-aging effects, this vegetable may influence how we approach skincare in the future.
- Agarwal S, Rao AV. Tomato lycopene and its role in human health and chronic diseases. CMAJ Can Med Assoc J J Assoc Medicale Can. 2000;163(6):739-744.
- Hermoni KL, Raz G. Tomato based supplement protects skin from UV damage and photo-aging processes. FASEB J. 2017;31(S1):635.4-635.4. doi:10.1096/fasebj.31.1_supplement.635.4
- Ji LL. Antioxidant enzyme response to exercise and aging. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1993;25(2):225-231.
- Hoeijmakers JHJ. DNA damage, aging, and cancer. N Engl J Med. 2009;361(15):1475-1485. doi:10.1056/NEJMra0804615
- Beecher GR. Nutrient content of tomatoes and tomato products. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med Soc Exp Biol Med N Y N. 1998;218(2):98-100. doi:10.3181/00379727-218-44282a
- Otang WM, Grierson DS, Afolayan AJ. A survey of plants responsible for causing allergic contact dermatitis in the Amathole District, Eastern Cape, South Africa. South Afr J Bot. 2015;97:32-39. doi:10.1016/j.sajb.2014.12.006