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Fucoxanthin, properties, benefits and warnings

June 25, 2023
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Fucoxanthin, properties, benefits and warnings

Fucoxanthin is a carotenoid with high antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and hepatoprotective properties, useful for combating overweight, obesity and accumulation of visceral fat

Fucoxanthin is a very powerful substance to protect our health. Naturally contained in some types of seaweed, fucoxanthin is a valuable antioxidant whose benefits are the subject of today's article.

Fucoxanthin, what it is

Fucoxanthin is an antioxidant of the carotenoid family and represents the orange pigment most present in brown marine algae, such as fucus, wakame and laminaria, also called kombu, seaweeds. Fucoxanthin absorbs blue and green light and gives the algae a dark olive color. The molecular structure of fucoxanthin is practically unique and this is the characteristic that makes this substance a powerful remedy with anti-free radical, anti-diabetic, anti-obesity and neuroprotective properties (Mumu et al, Front Pharmacol, 2022).

Fucoxanthin against free radicals

Fucoxanthin is, first and foremost, a powerful antioxidant, capable of counteracting aging processes, damage from free radicals and sunlight and cellular degeneration (Mumu et al, Front Pharmacol, 2022). In the latter case, fucoxanthin has been shown to induce life cycle arrest and apoptosis, which is the programmed death of diseased cells, with a particularly powerful action on some types of tumors affecting the liver, lungs, brain, colon, stomach and prostate (Mumu et al, Front Pharmacol, 2022 - Moghadamtousi et al, ScientificWorldJournal, 2014 - Meresse et al, Int J Mol Sci, 2020).

Fucoxanthin and inflammation

Fucoxanthin is also a substance with an anti-inflammatory action comparable to the effects of the antioxidant epigallocatechin 3 gallate of green tea. Indeed, studies have shown that fucoxanthin is able to control various diseases related to inflammation, such as colitis and ulcerative colitis, but also erythema, atopic dermatitis and asthma (Mumu et al, Front Pharmacol, 2022). The anti-inflammatory action of fucoxanthin is believed to be attributable to its prebiotic ability to support the good bacteria of the intestinal microbiota (Mumu et al, Front Pharmacol, 2022).

Fucoxanthin against diabetes and obesity

Fucoxanthin, even in low doses, helps to fight obesity, helping to reduce body weight and the accumulation of fat, especially around the waist, which is also the most dangerous fat (Mumu et al, Front Pharmacol, 2022 (Mumu et al, Front Pharmacol, 2022 - Gammone et al, Mar Drugs, 2015). Not only that, fucoxanthin is also an ally against diabetes, since it is able to reduce insulin resistance and blood sugar (Mumu et al, Front Pharmacol, 2022).

Fucoxanthin for liver health

Studies have shown that fucoxanthin protects the liver. In particular, this substance helps to counteract fatty liver disease caused by a high fat diet, liver inflammation and possible liver damage caused by excessive alcohol consumption (Mumu et al, Front Pharmacol, 2022). Not only that, in the presence of fatty liver resulting from an unbalanced diet, fucoxanthin counteracts fibrosis and a possible evolution of fatty liver into steatohepatitis, a disease characterized by inflammation and loss of function of the liver (Winarto et al, Int J Mol Sci, 2023).

Fucoxanthin for the brain

Fucoxanthin is considered a promising ally against neuroinflammation, which is a condition that increases the risk of depression but also, in the long run, of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's (Mumu et al, Front Pharmacol, 2022 ).

Fucoxanthin and bone health

Fucoxanthin improves the mineral content in bones and therefore demonstrates an action against osteoporosis (Mumu et al, Front Pharmacol, 2022).

Fucoxanthin, how to take it and warnings

As mentioned, fucoxanthin is a carotenoid present in brown algae. However, this substance is not easily assimilated by the body when the whole seaweed is taken, it is thought due to an interference of the fibers contained in the seaweed itself. However, studies have shown that the combination of seaweed and fish oil or medium-chain fatty acids, such as those found in cow's, sheep's, goat's and coconut milk, is able to increase the availability of fucoxanthin ( Peng et al, Marine drugs, 2011). In this case, however, keep in mind that the seaweeds that contain fucoxanthin, such as kombu and wakame, also provide iodine and therefore it is important not to exceed their consumption and to follow the instructions on the package. This is especially true for kombu seaweed, among the richest in iodine, while wakame seaweed provides it in low quantities. For the same reason, ask your doctor for advice if you suffer from thyroid dysfunction.

Alternatively, you can use fucoxanthin in capsules, which, due to its association with maltodextrins, oils or gum arabic, is assimilated more easily (Mumu et al, Front Pharmacol, 2022). Fucoxanthin in capsules generally contains very limited doses of iodine. Fucoxanthin is considered safe but the advice is to avoid it during pregnancy and breastfeeding as there are still no results that confirm its safety in these phases (Zhang et al, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med., 2015).

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