Microalgae supplementation may boost athletic measures: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Ryan McVay / Getty Images
© Ryan McVay / Getty Images

Related tags microalgae Sports nutrition soccer Tetraselmis chuii

Thirty days of microalgae supplementation (TetraSOD) may boost cardiovascular and respiratory (ergospirometric) parameters in amateur athletes, suggests a new study from Spain.

The microalgae used is Tetraselmis chuii ​(TC), a unicellular green microalgae discovered in the 1950s, and is commercialized as TetraSOD by Spanish marine biotech company Fitoplancton Marino.

Data published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health​ indicated that a daily 25mg* dose of the ingredient led to decreases in heart rate, and increases in VO2max, oxygen pulse, hemoglobin and mean corpuscular hemoglobin for amateur soccer players.

“The absence of abnormal values in biochemical parameters would indicate that the TC microalgae would not have negative effects on our body,” ​wrote scientists from the University of Extremadura. “Although these are preliminary results, we suggest that TC could be an ergogenic alternative for athletes. The intake of TC significantly improved the values of the hemogram, which would probably be the cause of the ergospirometric changes.”

Tetraselmis chuii

According to the researchers, Tetraselmis chuii​ is part of the diet of mussels, oysters, clams, scallops and corals.

“Proportional to its size, TC has a high concentration of amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals,” ​they explained.

“TetraSOD is a unique commercial product composed of 100% lyophilised TC that is currently marketed for food and nutraceutical applications. In 2017, the European Union gave approval to the company to market its lyophilised TC for use in dietary supplements such as TetraSOD, at levels of up to 250mg/day.**”

Study details

Thirty-two amateur soccer players (average age 22) were recruited to participate in the study. The soccer players were randomly assigned to receive either the microalgae supplements (TetraSOD) or a lactose control for 30 days.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to evaluate the impact of TC supplementation in athletes,” ​wrote the researchers. “TC supplementation during thirty days produced decreases in HR and increased absolute VO2max, relative VO2max, oxygen pulse, hemoglobin and mean corpuscular hemoglobin (p < 0.05).”

Commenting on the heart rate benefits, the researchers noted that this may be due to the presence of bioactives such as potassium and unsaturated fatty acids in TC that may positively affect arterial stiffness. Similar results have been reported for the microalgae chlorella, they said.

The researchers concluded: “Current results need to be confirmed with larger sample sizes, and different populations and concentrations of TC to analyse the potential effects of various doses, and establish a dose–response relationship.

“It would be interesting for future studies to investigate the antioxidant properties of TC as well as the effect on elite athletes, and analyse the intake of micronutrients.”

* - ​As corrected by Fitoplancton Marino as the 200mg dose stated in the study is incorrect.

** - In 2017, the European Union gave approval to Fitoplancton Marino to market its lyophilised TC for use in dietary supplements such as TetraSOD, at levels of up to 250mg/day instead of the 200mg incorrectly stated in the study.

Source: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
2020, 17​(18), 6885; doi: 10.3390/ijerph17186885
“Effects of ​Tetraselmis chuii Microalgae Supplementation on Ergospirometric, Haematological and Biochemical Parameters in Amateur Soccer Players”
Authors: V. Toro et al.

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