Daily supplements containing astaxanthin, the pink pigment that gives salmon its color, may boost the body’s antioxidants defenses in obese people, says a new study from South Korea.
Researchers from Seoul National University report that daily doses of 5 or 20 milligrams of astaxanthin for three weeks were associated with increases in levels of the body’s own antioxidant defenses, as well as decreases in levels of oxidative species.
“Although these data show that astaxanthin is protective against obesity‐induced oxidative stress, a longer term study with a larger sample size should be conducted to establish whether astaxanthin supplementation can consistently and permanently reduce oxidative stress levels,” wrote the researchers in Phytotherapy Research.
“Also, this intervention should be performed to provide additional data with regard to the effect of astaxanthin in an additional group of subjects with oxidative‐stress‐related disease, such as metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.”
A rosy future for the pink pigment?
The global astaxanthin market is estimated to be worth about $200 million by 2015, most of which is used as a pigment to enhance the pink coloration of fish such as salmon. The human uses market is growing and estimated at about $35-60 million, according to 2008 data from Frost & Sullivan.
Its main health benefits are eye and skin health although it has also been linked to joint health and central nervous system health and is said to have an antioxidant payload 500 times that of vitamin E. Most astaxanthin is derived from the algae, Haematococcus pluvialis, which is commonly consumed by fish and crustaceans and is responsible for their pink coloration.
The researchers recruited 23 overweight twenty somethings to participate in their prospective, randomized, double‐blind study. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either 5 or 20 milligrams per day of astaxanthin (Marine Product Tech. Inc., South Korea) for three weeks. The study did not include a placebo group.
At the end of the study, results showed a decrease in levels of malondialdehyde (MDA - a reactive carbonyl compound and a well-established marker of oxidative stress) of about 35 percent in both dosage groups, compared to levels at the start of the study. In addition, isoprostane levels (another oxidative stress marker) were reduced after supplementation, by about 65 percent in both groups.
The researchers also observed an increase in levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD), an antioxidant enzyme, of 193 percent, as well as an increased of about 123 percent in the total antioxidant capacity of the blood.
“The plasma concentration of astaxanthin in the 20 mg group was significantly higher than that in the 5 mg group over 3 weeks,” said the researchers. “However, none of the biomarkers were significantly different between the two groups during the 3 week intervention. This indicates that the plasma concentration and the clinical effect of astaxanthin are not proportional. Therefore, the recommended daily dose of astaxanthin is 5 mg, to reduce the elevated oxidative stress in overweight and obese individuals.”
Source: Phytotherapy Research