The food industry began crossing over into cosmetic territory several years ago with the creation of beauty enhancing dietary supplements but today the market includes everything from tea to marshmallows. Now the ingredients suppliers are offering sun protection from within as well as beauty from within. Sun care from the inside Israel-based LycoRed has just been granted a patent from IP Australia for its natural ingredient which combines lycopene, phytoene and phytofluene and, optionally, vitamin E. The carotenoid filled ingredient may be added to food products, drinks and dietary supplements to help protect the skin from UV radiation. In fact the antioxidants in the carotenoid family such as lycopene boast both anti-ageing and sun care properties as they improve the firmness of the skin as well as providing protection against UV rays. Tomato-based Lycopene is the key element in the new formulation and is more effective than synthetic alternatives in protecting the skin from UV damage, according to LycoRed. The company also claims lycopene's efficacy is improved when it is combined with the other antioxidant ingredients; phytoene, phytofluene and vitamin E. LycoRed's vice president of product development, Zohar Nir, said: "While up until now, the dominant means for supplementing the diet with important nutrients was via capsules, what we offer here, is quite unique." "This is a natural lycopene composition that can be either encapsulated in a soft gel or easily added to a beverage to create a year round fortified sun protection drink. "While it does not replace topical sunscreen, when taken daily, it provides a degree of both UVA and UVB protection even during months of the year when one is not likely to apply a topical lotion." Which foods? LycoRed's new skin care ingredient can be added to many fortified foods and drinks although it is most likely to be used in products associated with healthy living. Diary products have so far proved popular as carriers of beauty ingredients and fruit juice has also been mentioned as a strong candidate in the market because of its established health benefits. Nir added: Flexibility is key - we need to meet the needs of today's consumers, and while the convenience of a capsule may work for some, others will welcome these sun protection ingredients in a more traditional food form, like a juice drink. "LycoRed can supply a variety of ingredient options to support the new cosmeceutical concept."