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Nutrient - Astaxanthin may help protect diabetics from harmful complications

By Holly Taylor BSc (Hons) DipCNM MBANT

Astaxanthin, the pigment that gives salmon its pink colour, is an incredibly powerful antioxidant. Its main health benefits are eye and skin health, although it has also been linked to joint health and central nervous system health and is said to be many times more powerful than vitamin E. What’s more, a new study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, suggests astaxanthin may also help protect diabetics from developing kidney problems.

In diabetes, cells are exposed to very high glucose concentrations, which create a lot of free radicals and oxidative stress. Such high blood sugar levels, and the oxidative stress that goes along with them, are linked to many diabetic complications, including kidney disease.

Consequently, Korean and Japanese researchers were interested in investigating whether astaxanthin could help protect against the damaging effects of oxidative stress, associated with elevated blood glucose levels. They took some kidney cells and treated them with a high-glucose mix to mimic high blood sugar levels and then exposed the cells to astaxanthin. According to their findings, the astaxanthin was very effective at suppressing the formation of damaging free radicals, as well as reducing the levels of biological substances that indicate inflammation.

The researchers concluded their study by saying: “On the basis of all the evidence, we propose that the modulation of oxidative stress, inflammation, and apoptosis is the likely mechanism underlying the beneficial role of astaxanthin on diabetic nephropathy [kidney disease]”. “Consequently, we conclude from these studies that astaxanthin could be an effective, functional supplement as an anti-diabetic phytochemical,” they added. 

Article References

Source: Y.J. Kim et al. (2009) “Protection against Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Apoptosis of High-Glucose-Exposed Proximal Tubular Epithelial Cells by Astaxanthin” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Epub ahead of print.

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