Astaxanthin-tocotrienol intake improves composite and verbal memory: BGG Japan-funded 12-week study

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

The supplementation of astaxanthin and tocotrienol could improve composite and verbal memory in individuals who have exhibited mild forgetfulness, a study by BGG Japan has shown.  ©Getty Images
The supplementation of astaxanthin and tocotrienol could improve composite and verbal memory in individuals who have exhibited mild forgetfulness, a study by BGG Japan has shown. ©Getty Images

Related tags Japan Astaxanthin Tocotrienol Research

The supplementation of astaxanthin and tocotrienol has been shown to improve composite and verbal memory in individuals who have exhibited mild forgetfulness, according to an RCT sponsored by BGG Japan.

By the end of the 12-week trial, the intervention group had a higher score for composite and verbal memory as compared to the placebo group.

The intervention group was also able to remember the names of more people and objects.

The results of the randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition.

The study was also said to be the first to evaluate the effects of astaxanthin and tocotrienol on cognitive function.

Study design

Involving 44 healthy subjects who have experienced mild forgetfulness, the trial was conducted at the Medical Corporation Seishinkai, Takara Clinic between May and September 2018.

The intervention group took a capsule containing astaxanthin and tocotrienol once per day before or after breakfast during the study.

The capsule contains BGG Japan’s trademarked ingredients, including 9mg of H. pluvialis-derived astaxanthin, ​trademarked as AstaZine, and about 50mg of palm tocotrienol, trademarked as TheraPrimE. 

The subjects’ cognitive state was assessed using the Cognitrax test, which evaluates various cognitive function domains, such as processing speed, verbal and visual memory.

For the verbal memory test, subjects were asked to identify 15 words which were previously shown to them but nested among 30 words.

In the visual memory test, the same test procedure is used, but the words were replaced with shapes.

The total number of correct answers were then converted into a score.

The subjects’ subjective view of their cognitive state was also examined.

In this case, subjects were asked questions such as “Over the past week, have you forgotten things often?” and “Have you been concerned about memory loss during the last week?”

Result analysis

Results analysis showed that the astaxanthin and tocotrienol supplementation had improved composite and verbal memory.

The results of 36 subjects, equally chosen from both groups, were analysed.

It was shown that the composite memory score of the intervention group had increased from the baseline of 71.1 ± 10.7 to 91.2 ± 7.7.

The score of the placebo group also improved, but to a smaller extent from 74.6 ± 11.3 to 84.1 ± 17.2.

As for the verbal memory score, it went up from 70.8 ± 13.3 to 94.4 ± 8.8 for the intervention group and from 77.4 ± 15.4 to 89.5 ± 16.0 in the placebo group.

While there was also an improvement in the scores of the placebo group, that of the intervention group had managed to increase and hit the “average” range.

Subjective view

There was also an improvement in the intervention groups’ subjective view of their ability in remembering names of people and objects.

The researchers measured the improvement using a scale-system, the lower the points, the better the subjects’ condition.

In this case, the scale number of “during the last week, have you had trouble remembering people’s names or the names of things” was 4.0 in both groups at the start of the study.

By the end of the study, the scale has dropped to 3.0 for the intervention group while there was no change in the placebo group.

No adverse event was observed in the study.

“This study was the first to evaluate the effects of the simultaneous intake of astaxanthin and tocotrienol on cognitive function.”

“The results demonstrated that taking an astaxanthin-tocotrienols combination improves the composite memory and verbal memory of Japanese adults who feel a memory decline,”​ the researchers concluded.


The researchers acknowledged that the study did not address how astaxanthin and tocotrienol had interacted to improve cognitive and verbal memory.

Also, the amount of astaxanthin and tocotrienol was in the blood serum was not measured.

As such, it was not possible to confirm if the blood serum levels of astaxanthin and tocotrienol had elevated.

The researchers urged for future studies to investigate blood AT levels and cognitive function. The mechanisms by which AT improves cognitive function should be clarified in future studies as well.

Previous research has established synergistic antioxidant performance of a tocotrienol and astaxanthin blend.

“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,” ​lead author Dr Takahiro Sekikawa said.



Source: Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition

Cognitive function improvement with astaxanthin and tocotrienol intake: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study

DOI: 10.3164/jcbn.19-116

Authors: Takahiro Sekikawa, et al


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