The company, which launched its Zeaxanthin 5% TG on the US market in 2001, says it is the first data on bioavailability in humans.
Writing in the March issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (vol 79, no 3, 410-417), Wolfgang Schalch and colleagues at the University of Witten/Herdecke in Germany show that people taking 1g daily of the nature-identical zeaxanthin for four weeks increased blood levels of the carotenoid by four times the previous levels.
A parallel group of 10 volunteers taking 10mg of the supplement saw a 20-fold increase in plasma levels at the end of the study period.
The study also provides important information on the dosage regimen. On average, it takes about four weeks of continued daily dosing to reach steady plateau plasma concentrations, said researchers.
In addition, the research added new information on zeaxanthin metabolism showing that it did not affect concentrations of other carotenoids present in the blood.
Zeaxanthin is thought to benefit eye health and reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, a common, progressive eye disease in older people, and the leading cause of irreversible visual impairment and blindness for people over the age of 50 in the Western world. It is estimated to affect approximately 25-30 million people.
Sales of zeaxanthin have been growing with consumer awareness of dietary prevention of disease. DSM marketing manager for the product Christoph Stoller told NutraIngredients.com that the company has seen 'double-digit growth' in sales of the ingredient since its launch in the US.
He added: "Bioavailability is always the first question from our customers and this study is a crucial first step. The next trials will look at efficacy on eye health."
DSM is currently in the process of registering the ingredient for use in Europe but would not speculate when this process will be completed.
The company, which has inherited a strong carotenoids portfolio from Roche, will present further trials looking at the uptake of zeaxanthin by the eye at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Opthalmology in Florida in April.