They gave 4 mg of astaxanthin daily or placebo to 40 young, trained Serbian soccer players and found via plasma testing better results for the astaxanthin group in inflammation, immune system function and muscle recuperation.
The double-blind trial lasted 90 days and was conducted among players for the Partizan Belgrade football club who agreed to avoid taking other supplements.
The researchers, led by Ivana Baralic of the Sports Medicine Association of Serbia, said the study showed astaxanthin “attenuates muscle damage, thus preventing inflammation induced by rigorous physical training.”
“Our findings also point that astaxanthin could show significant physiologic modulation in individuals with mucosal immunity impairment or under conditions of increased oxidative stress and inflammation.”
The study showed those on astaxanthin recorded higher levels of the salivary IgA (sIgA), an immunoglobulin that is important for muscle function and in maintaining the integrity of the immune system.
“Lowered concentrations of sIgA are associated with an increased frequency of upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) episodes or with reduced protection against certain infections.”
In addition to this immune function, the researchers hypothesised that astaxanthin "protects the cell membranes against free radicals generated during heavy exercise, thus preserving the functionality of muscle cells. The unsaturated polygene chain of astaxanthin could trap radicals in the membrane..."
‘Natural’ astaxanthin is obtained from Haematococcus pluvialis microalgae, which can be grown in a variety of ways, either in open ponds or closed bioreactors.
Astaxanthin has failed to win a positive opinion for these and other types of health benefits under the EU’s strict nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR).
The astaxanthin in the trial was made by Fuji Chemical Industries-owned Astareal in Sweden.
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
“Effect of Astaxanthin Supplementation on Salivary IgA, Oxidative Stress, and Inflammation in Young Soccer Players”
Authors: Ivana Baralic, Marija Andjelkovic, Brizita Djordjevic, et al.