Science looks rosy for astaxanthin and stomach health

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: H. pylori, Helicobacter pylori

The pigment that gives salmon its pink colour may reduce the
symptoms of indigestion and heartburn, says a new study.

A high dose (40 mg) of the carotenoid was found to significantly reduce to heartburn, and the effects were mostly pronounced in people infected with the Helicobacter pylori​ bacterium that causes stomach ulcers, according to research published in the journal Phytomedicine​. "This is the first randomized, prospective, double blind, placebo-controlled study of the antioxidant astaxanthin used for treatment of functionaldyspepsia,"​ wrote lead author Limas Kupcinskas from Kaunas University of Medicine in Lithuania. "We can hypothesize that the stronger response in H. pylori positive patients is due to reduced oxidative stress in the stomach by the astaxanthin treatment and hence also less oxidative stress in oesophagus resulting in ameliorated symptoms,"​ added Kupcinskas. Astaxanthin is most commonly used as a pigment to enhance the pink colouration of fish such as salmon. This market in both natural and synthetic forms is estimated to be worth in the region €190m globally. 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 have an antioxidant payload 500 times that of vitamin E. New study ​ The researchers, from Lithuania, Sweden and Denmark, recruited 132 people with indigestion (dyspepsia) and randomly assigned them to receive 16 or 40 mg per day of astaxanthin (AstaCarox​, AstaReal, Sweden), or placebo for four weeks. The study was a controlled, prospective, randomised, and double blind study design. People were classified as negative or positive for H. pylori​ infection. At the end of four weeks, Kupcinskas and co-workers found no significant differences between the three groups regarding overall measures of abdominal pain, indigestion and reflux syndromes. However, when they focussed on only reflux syndrome, they found a significant benefit in the group receiving the high dose astaxanthin supplement, compared to the other groups. Moreover, the benefits were higher in the people who also tested positive for H. pylori, they added. "These findings are interesting and deserve further studies,"​ wrote the researchers. Regarding their hypothesis that the stronger response in H. pylori positive patients is due to reduced oxidative stress in the stomach should be tested in additional trials, they said. "The findings indicate that particularly studies aiming at assessing efficacy of astaxanthin on​ H. pylori gastritis and associated non-reflux disease would be of interest,"​ they added. Statistics ​ According to the US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, gastroesophageal reflux disease and related oesophageal disorders affects 20 per cent of the US population. The prevalence of H. pylori differs between countries with studies based in Denmark, Ireland, England, Sweden, and Australia reporting a prevalence of ranging from 26 to 43 per cent. Source: Phytomedicine​ Volume 15, Pages 391-399 "Efficacy of the natural antioxidant astaxanthin in the treatment of functional dyspepsia in patients with or without Helicobacter pylori infection: A prospective, randomized, double blind, and placebo-controlled study" ​Authors: L. Kupcinskas, P. Lafolie, A. Lignell, G. Kiudelis, L. Jonaitis, K. Adamonis, L. Percival Andersen, T. Wadstrom

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