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Astaxanthin reduces muscle damage markers in athletes

Astaxanthin is a naturally occurring red carotenoid found in microalgae. It’s what gives shrimp and salmon their pink-reddish color. It may not have the same name recognition as vitamins C and E, but research indicates its power as an antioxidant may surpass these better known nutrients. The beneficial effects of astaxanthin supplementation may translate into diabetes and cardiovascular prevention due to its glucose and lipid lowering effects, immune enhancement, and anti-cancer activity. A large number of animal studies provide compelling evidence for these biological effects, and emerging human studies demonstrate that astaxanthin is biologically available and exerts health-promoting effects in people.

For example, young healthy women who supplemented with capsules of astaxanthin (2 or 8 mg/day) for 8 weeks showed less oxidative stress and inflammation, and an enhanced immune response. Specifically, both doses of astaxanthin decreased measures of DNA damage, and enhanced the immune response as evidenced by increased T cell and B cell proliferation, and NK cell activity.

In a more recent study, astaxanthin was shown to promote similar benefits in the context of exercise-induced stress. Healthy male soccer players were assigned to a placebo or astaxanthin group (4 mg/day). The athletes were involved in training sessions 5 to 7 days per week with a weekly training of 10 to 15 hours. Saliva and blood samples were collected before and after 90 days. Astaxanthin supplementation was shown to significantly increase salivary IgA, indicating an enhanced immune response. The astaxanthin group also showed less accumulation of muscle damage markers, inflammation, and neutrophils, indicating an overall dampening of the inflammatory response.

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