Science Update

Astaxanthin helps improve dysglycemia and blood pressure in patients with diabetes

Astaxanthin is a red-orange carotenoid and powerful antioxidant mainly produced by microalgae (haematococcus pluvialis) and accumulated in many marine organisms. Astaxanthin’s unique molecular structure provides its unique features such as high antioxidant activity. Previous research suggests that astaxanthin has health-promoting benefits which help with chronic inflammatory diseases, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and exercise-induced fatigue.

New research just published demonstrated that astaxanthin supplementation improves glucose metabolism and decreases blood pressure in patients with type 2 diabetes.

This double blind, randomized, placebo controlled study included 41 patients ranging from 30 to 60 years of age with type 2 diabetes who were not on insulin therapy. Each patient consumed 8 mg of astaxanthin or placebo daily for 8 weeks. As a result, the astaxanthin group demonstrated an increase in adiponectin concentration and reduced visceral body fat, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and systolic blood pressure. Adiponectin is inversely associated with fat loss. An increase in plasma adiponectin as seen in this study correlates with a reduction in body fat. In addition, astaxanthin reduced fructosamine concentration and glucose levels.

Patients with diabetes have more oxidative stress and inflammation; therefore, astaxanthin’s positive effects on these biomarkers are through antioxidant defense mechanisms that scavenge free radicals and provide protective properties.

Previous animal studies have demonstrated that astaxanthin supplementation protects the pancreatic β-cells against glucose toxicity by reducing blood glucose and hyperglycemia-induced oxidative stress. In addition, they have also demonstrated improvements in insulin secretion and sensitivity by improving glucose metabolism and β-cell dysfunction.

Inositol is another nutrient that should also be considered for patients with diabetes.

Inositol acts as second messenger which regulates several hormones such as thyroid stimulating hormone and insulin.

Studies have shown that an inositol deficiency is common in patients with insulin resistance. There appears to be a reduced ability to process, metabolize, and effectively use inositol from foods, which is a distinctive characteristic feature of insulin resistance. As a result, the nutritional requirements of these patients may not be met by a simple change in the diet and that inositol should be viewed as a conditionally essential nutrient in these individuals.


Source: Mashhadi NS, Zakerkish M, et al. Astaxanthin improves glucose metabolism and reduces blood pressure in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Asia Pac J Clin Nutri. 2018;27(2):341-346. doi: 10.6133/apjcn.052017.11.