Study: Astaxanthin and Vitamin E offer cognitive benefits

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

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getty | pablo k

Related tags Astaxanthin Palm oil

A synergistic combination of tocotrienols and astaxanthin leads to cognitive improvements in subjects with age-related memory decline, according to a newly published trial funded by natural ingredients developer BGG World.

Astaxanthin is a carotenoid which gives certain seafood and algae their reddish colour. It has strong antioxidant properties and plays a role in the protection of oxidative damage​ through a variety of mechanisms, including elimination of singlet oxygen and radicals​, suppression of lipid peroxidation, and regulation of gene expression associated with oxidative stress.

Its main health benefits are eye and skin health although it has also been linked to joint health and central nervous system health. It has also been reported​ to improve cognitive function.

Tocotrienol, a member of the vitamin E family, contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress​ and has been found​ to be able to tackle many aspects of Alzheimer's Disease, such as oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction and abnormal cholesterol synthesis.

Astaxanthin and vitamin E are frequently used together in cosmetics, and as food additives, to prevent oxidative damage.

In order to discover the synergistic benefits of the two on cognitive health, researchers from BGG Japan Co​. conducted a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study involving 44 subjects over 12 weeks.

The study used a combination of BGG's 50mg TheraPrimE Palm Tocotrienols and 9mg Natural Astaxanthin AstaZine (extracted from the Haematococcus pluvialis ​algae species. Subjective user evaluation and the Cognitrax cognitive test were used to measure composite memory domain.   

The reported results indicate that the astaxanthin-tocotrienols group showed a significant improvement in composite memory and verbal memory in Cognitrax at 12 weeks compared with the placebo group.

Additionally, the astaxanthin-tocotrienols group showed a significant improvement in subjective ability to recall memories, compared with the placebo group. 

Lead author and part of BGG Japan Co, Takahiro Sekikawa, PhD, said further studies are needed in order to understand the reason for this synergistic benefit.

Previous research has established synergistic antioxidant performance of a Tocotrienol + Astaxanthin blend, and it would be of great interest to investigate in future studies if this outcome is due to an ameliorated absorption of Astaxanthin or perhaps to increased antioxidant activity due to the addition of tocotrienols.”

Previous studies

US researchers conducted a similar study in 2019​ which focused on psychological mood state. Using a sample of 28 healthy, active, non-depressed adult subjects aged 26 to 63 years, researchers studied the effect of supplementation with AstaZine Natural Astaxanthin, compared to a placebo, over eight weeks. 

Scientists observed significant improvements in three critical markers including feelings of depression, mental fatigue and overall mood state were found at the end of the study. Researchers reported that depression decreased by 57%, mental fatigue dropped by 36%, and 11% reported an increase in mood state.


Source: Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition​  

Sekikawa, T., Kizawa, Y., Li, Y., Takara, T.  

“Cognitive function improvement with astaxanthin and tocotrienol intake: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.” ​ 

doi: 10.3164/jcbn.19-116


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