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Fucoxanthin is a brown seaweed pigment that is found in most brown seaweeds, as well as a few other marine sources. It is a xanthophyll, which is a molecule structurally similar to beta-carotene and vitamin A; yet fucoxanthin does not possess vitamin-like activity in the body.
Fucoxanthin, via its metabolites, seems to be stored in fat cells for a prolonged period of time and can induce fat loss while inhibiting fat cell differentiation and proliferation. Although only one human study has been published, it appears to be a promising non-stimulatory fat loss agent but requires time to work (5-16 weeks).
It also possesses other health benefits, such as correcting abnormalities in glucose metabolism in muscle tissue which can help diabetics and might reduce cholesterol levels and triglycerides by currenty unverified mechanisms. Reductions in blood pressure and reductions in both liver fat stores and liver enzyme values have been noted with fucoxanthin supplementation in humans.
Fucoxanthin, although usage as a supplement is preliminary, appears to be a very promising joint fat loss and health boosting agent.
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Seaweed Extract, Undaria Pinnatifida, fuco, fucothin
Fucoxanthin is non-stimulatory
Fucoxanthin does not appear to induce fat loss acutely, but may take up to 5-16 weeks of 5mg or more in order for fat burning effects to occur. This is probably due to saturating fat mass with fucoxanthin
If buying fucoxanthin, a daily dose between 2.4-8mg has been shown to be beneficial over a period of time for inducing fat loss and increasing health paramters. More is better, but the benefits are not so much dose-dependent as they are diminishing returns.
If buying a seaweed extract such as Undaria Pinnatifida, look for the amount of standardized fucoxanthin and try to aim for 2.4-8mg daily. For example, 300mg of Undaria at 1% fucoxanthin is 3mg fucoxanthin.
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A good example of what a 'faith' buy is. It takes a while for fucoxanthin to work, so it would take a few weeks of compliance and not seeing any benefit in order for the benefit to kick in later.
Be sure to take with fatty acids, or just with a meal, to enhance absorption or fucoxanthin.
The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (excluding animal/petri-dish studies) to tell you what effect Fucoxanthin has in your body, and how strong these effects are.
|Grade||Level of Evidence|
|A||Robust research conducted with repeated double blind clinical trials|
|B||Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled|
|C||Single double blind study or multiple cohort studies|
|D||Uncontrolled or observational studies only|
|Level of Evidence ||Effect||Change||Magnitude of Effect Size ||Scientific Consensus||Comments|
The lone study in obese menopausal women noted a large degree of weight loss over time relative to control, which was though to be due to increasing the metabolic rate... show
In a model of liver fat in obese premenopausal women, fucoxanthin was fairly effective at reducing liver enzymes after prolonged usage
The decrease in liver fat seen with fucoxanthin tends to be greater than that seen with other supplements, although insufficient evidence exists to suggest reliability of results
A decrease in C-reactive protein is noted with fucoxanthin ingestion
A decrease in circulating triglycerides is noted with fucoxanthine
In obese menopausal women, fucoxanthin may lower blood pressure; this is confounded with overall weight loss, however
The lone study in obese premenopausal women noted a fairly remarkable increase in metabolic rate (the highest estimate being around 450kcal daily); this study requires... show
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Fucoxanthin is a carotenoid structure that is usually deemed to be one of the brown pigments associated with seaweed. Sources of seaweed that contain fucoxanthin include:
Perhaps most interestingly is that, upon feeding hens fucoxanthin, no fucoxanthin is found in the yolks of the eggs yet metabolites such as fucoxanthinal are found.
Fucoxanthin shares similar structural properties to the carotenoid class of nutrients like beta-carotene (the standard comparison) and more interesting derivatives like Astaxanthin. However, fucoxanthin tends to be more interested in due to it's allenic bond and 5,6-monoepoxide aspects which are fairly unique. It also contains a conjugated carbonyl group with anti-oxidant properties.
There are some related molecules that are deemed metabolites of fucoxanthin but are not from human metabolism, but rather metabolism by the plant source of fucoxanthin (and thus they appear as co-existing nutrients), such as halocynthiaxanthin.
Fucoxanthin is fat-soluble, thus it's absorption is enhanced in the presence of fatty acids (which has been demonstrated by mixing with medium chain triglycerides at 0.9% of the diet in rats) and may be hindered in the presence of fat-blockers, although this latter part is conjecture.
It appears fucoxanthin has a lesser bioavailability than other carotenoid-class nutrients, while having a greater bioavailability in humans than it does in rats. In comparing two studies on pharmacokinetics in humans and rats the Tmax and AUC followed similar curves in relation to time, but the human Cmax and AUC were 33% and 46% despite being 15% the oral dose.
Fucoxanthin is deacetylated in the intestines to fucoxanthinal, which is distributed through lymphatic tissue after absorption in the same manner as fat-soluble nutrients and fatty acids. and no fucoxanthin nor metabolites around found in the liver prior to first pass metabolism. Fucoxanthinol is the main circulating form of dietary fucoxanthin, insofar that circulating fucoxanthin cannot be determined in some studies due to complete deacetylation.
Paradoxically, fucoxanthin is a molecule which is fat soluble and requires fatty acids in order to be absorbed yet also possesses the ability to inhibit pancreatic lipase and inhibit some degree of fat absorption. The AUC of lymph absorption seems to be comparable between fucoxanthin (2mg/mL in the lumen) and without, suggesting a delayed absorption of triglycerides rather than hindering absorption. No fecal fat test was done in this study. As fucoxanthin is metabolized into fucoxanthinol by a few enzymes, one of which is lipase (the others being cholesterol esterase and carboxylesterase), it is possible that this could be indirect inhibition from competitive antagonism.
Fucoxanthin, via its metabolite fucoxanthinol, is readily taken up in the gut alongside fatty acids
Fucoxanthin is metabolized into predominately fucoxanthinol (deacetylation in the intestines) and Amarouciaxanthin A via the liver(with some other metabolization into Cis-Amarouciaxanthin A and two other unknown compounds). Fucoxanthinol appears to be the compounds responsible for most cardiac and hepatic implications and Amarouciaxanthin A the metabolite responsible for adipocytes (fat cells). Conversion of fucoxanthin into these metabolites has been noted in liver (HepG2) cells and requires NAD(P)+ as a cofactor.
Amarouciaxanthin A has been detected in rats via hepatic conversion after ingestion of Fucoxanthin after 24 hours, but has not been detected in humans in two studies lasting up to 24 hours. It is not know whether or not Amarouciaxanthin A exists in humans or whether it takes longer than 24 hours to be converted.
No fucoxanthin circulates in the blood, as it all gets metabolized to fucoxanthinol; Amarouciaxanthin A has not yet been shown to exist in humans, but it is not known whether this is due to the research conducted being too short or due to inter-species differences
Levels of fucoxanthinol seem to peak in tissues 4 hours after ingestion whereas concentrations of Amarouciaxanthin A peak 24 hours after ingestion. Another study looking at ingestion of 31mg fucoxathin (via Kombu extract dissolved in MCTs), it was found that increases in serum fucoxanthinol were seen until the 4 hour mark, where the next measurement at 8 hours noted a decline and this Tmax was similar in rats at doses of 3.5mg/kg bodyweight. In rats, a serum half-life of 0.92-1.23 days yet an adipose half-life of 2.76-4.81 days.
Fucoxanthinol's serum parameters in humans after 31mg ingestion dissolved in MCTs was a Cmax of 44.2nmol/L, a Tmax of 4 hours or so, a half-life of 7 hours, and an AUC to infinity of 663.7 nmol/l/h.
One other study measured the serum one week after daily ingestion of Wakame at 6.1mg fucoxanthin, and circulating levels of fucoxanthinol were found to be 0.8nmol/L. This study did not actively dissolve the fucoxanthin in fatty acids, and thus this low circulating level may be due to poor absorption.
Higher circulating levels of fucoxanthinol appear to need mixture with fatty acids like Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) for absorption
A study in rats noted that the metabolites of fucoxanthin, fucoxanthinol and Amarouciaxanthin A, appeared to both have affinity for adipose tissue rather than other tissues with 3.13–3.64 μmol/kg parittioned into adipose whereas 1.29–1.80 μmol/kg was recorded for kidneys and liver. In rats, where Amarouciaxanthin A has been recorded, this metabolite appears to be more selective for adipose whereas fucoxanthinol is slightly more evenly distributed.
Beyond the basic metabolites (fucoxanthinol and Amarouciaxanthin A), fucoxanthin can react with nitrate in a sacrifical manner (in protecting receptors from nitrosylation) to form nitrofucoxanthin, which it appears may be anti-cancer in mechanisms.
Additionally, a cis-isomer of fucoxanthinol may exist after ingestion of fucoxanthin.
After metabolism in the liver, Amarouciaxanthin A appears to be deposited and stored for a rather long time in fat cells; this accumulation of Amarouciaxanthin A may be a reason behind it's influences on fat mass being chronic rather than acute.
It has been found that bioaccumulation of fucoxanthin has not occurred in humans at a dose of 0.31mg fucoxanthin over 28 days, which is the average fucoxanthin intake from food sources in Japan.
Bioaccumulation at the level of 100mg/kg bodyweight fucoxanthin in rats is associated with giving the tissue an orange tone, as fucoxanthin and their metabolites do possess pigmentation activity.
A build-up effect occurs over time with sufficiently high (supplemental) dosages of oral fucoxanthin, with no significant toxicity being seen at the lower range of chronic oral intake and a non-toxic coloration of tissue at obscenely high doses
Fucoxanthin primarily works via inducing (increasing) activity of Uncoupling Protein 1 (UCP1) in white adipose tissue which uncouples a step in mitochondrial respiration and indirectly increases Metabolic Rate. Interestingly, higher rates of uncoupling are one of the bioenergetic reasons as to why 'brown' fat is different than white fat. The induction of white adipose UCP1 is important due to low levels of brown adipose in adult humans.
Fucoxanthin has been noted (in rats) to alter various lipid regulating enzymes. It decreases gene expression of the fat-regulating enzymes Malic Enzyme (ME), Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (G6PD), and Fatty acid Synthetase (FAS) in a relatively dose-dependent manner, although the rate of these enzymes is affected less significantly than the genetic signaling. Glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, an enzyme associated with turing glycerol into triglycerides for storage, has also been shown to be decreased with fucoxanthin metabolites at 10uM.
Increased expression of phosphorylated AMPK and phosphorylated forms of ACC have also been noted to be higher in fucoxanthin-treated animals on a high-fat diet relative to animals without fucoxanthin. When incubated with adult adipocytes at 10uM, fucoxanthin activates AMPK in a dose dependent manner and can increase downstream transcription of CPT-1a, the rate limiting enzyme in fatty acid beta-oxidation. Increasing activity of AMPK/ACC has been found by other researchers, and is more potent with Punicic Acid alongside the fucoxanthin.
Fucoxanthin and its metabolites also decrease adipocyte differentiation via downregulation of PPAR-y, a protein that encourages adipocyte differentiation. This has also been noted with Xanthigen, a blend of punicic acid (from Pomegranate) and fucoxanthin. These in vitro effects are also mirrored by the metabolite Amarouciaxanthin A, which is the one most prominent in adipose tissue after ingestion, as well as the circulating metabolite, fucoxanthinol. Amarouciaxanthin A, the metabolite most prominent in fat cells, appears to be the most potent metabolite in suppressing adipocyte differentiation.
Protein content and mRNA levels of beta(3)adrenergic receptors in white adipose tissue have also been shown to be increased after fucoxanthin supplementation for 15 weeks in rats.
One study done on 151 non-diabetic obese females found that Fucoxanthin (both via a blend called 'Xanthigen' with Pomegranate seed oil, as well as by itself) was able to induce fat loss and increase metabolic rate, although due to this being an exploratory study REE was only measured in 41 participants. Metabolic rate was increased by up to 1915+/-246 kJ/day in the group given 8mg fucoxanthin daily (n=4), but interestingly this increase in metabolic rate only appeared after 16 weeks of supplementation with no acute effects on metabolic rate whatsoever when measured at 2 weeks. The higher doses of fucoxanthin were able to be statistically different from placebo at 5 weeks, with lower doses requiring more time to exert significance.
Overall, weight loss over 16 weeks was 5.5+/-1.4kg in the group with more than 11% fat content in the liver, and 4.9+/-1.2kg in the group with less (11% being the border defining 'Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease').
Animal studies suggest that fucoxanthin increases fat loss reliably and at very low doses, easily attainable from daily consumption of brown seaweed. The lone human study appears to reflect results in animal research, and fucoxanthin appears to have a moderately potent but highly delayed effect on inducing fat loss; preliminary research, however
Fuxocanthin, at an oral intake of 0.02% of the diet in rats, has been demonstrated to increase GLUT4 translocation and protein content of the insulin receptor in rat skeletal muscle, and increased Akt phosphorylation in diabetic rats by 1.7-1.8 fold. Skeletal muscle mass appears to mediate many of fucoxanthin's anti-diabetic effects via taking up glucose.
Glucose uptake of skeletal muscle appears to be enhanced when diabetic mice are given fucoxanthin, but the biomarker of this (decreased blood glucose) has been shown to not occur in normal mice. It is possible that fucoxanthin alleviates abnormalities in skeletal muscle function associated with diabetes, but does not indiscriminately enhance glucose uptake (and thus limited usage in healthy individuals for glucose control). More studies would be needed to confirm
A fucoxanthin containing seaweed, Sargassum fusiforme, has been implicated in increasing osteoblast formation while decreasing osteoclast differentiation and theoretically exerting anti-osteoporotic effects.
Fucoxanthin, via inhibiting nF-kB transactivation, has also been implicated in preventing conversion of macrophages to osteoclast-like cells, and also induced apoptosis of these cells. At 2.5uM-5uM, fucoxanthin both reduced conversion to osteoclast-like cells and induced apoptosis in these cells while 10uM reduced cell viability or macrophages.
Fucoxanthin has the basic anti-oxidative abilities, and has been shown to exert these anti-oxidative properties against hydroxyl and superoxide radicals and singlet oxygen as well as DPPH radicals and oxidized fatty acid compounds. Some protection has also been noted from H2O2 and UVB rays.
An in vitro study on mouse liver cells found that fucoxanthin, at 5uM or greater, exerted pro-oxidant effects that increased NRF2 activity on the anti-oxidant response element (ARE) of the genome, which subsequently increased protein levels of HO-1 and NQO1, two anti-oxidant proteins. This mechanism was validated by the rise in HO-1/NQO1 being eliminated when NRF2 activation was inhibited, and this study establishes fucoxanthin's ability to induce anti-oxidative effects via hormesis.
Fucoxanthin appears to possess both general as well as hormetic mechanisms of anti-oxidation
Animal studies on fucoxanthin and triglycerides either show reductions of triglycerides or non-significant fluctuations associated with fucoxanthin supplementation. The only human study conducted noted a decrease in triglycerides from 177mg/dl to 155mg/dl (non-fatty liver group) and 195mg/dl to 158mg/dl (fatty liver group) after 16 weeks of supplementation.
Preliminary evidence suggest that fucoxanthin reduces triglycerides, reliability of this decrease not fully established
One animal study noted higher total cholesterol levels after consumption of Wakame (168+/-5mg/dl in obese control, 185+/-7 and 192+/-10 in wakame fed groups with no dose-dependence) yet lower LDL levels (9 and 7mg/dl relative to 13 in control) and non-significantly higher HDL levels (66 and 71, relative to 65mg/dl).
When administered to humans at varying dosages, fucoxanthin was able to reduce blood pressure from 138/91mmHG (systolic/diastolic) to 119/79mmHG in persons with fatty liver. In persons without fatty liver, blood pressure dropped from 128/93mmHG to 112/77mmHG.
Fucoxanthin, at 0.02% of the diet in rats, can significantly reduce blood glucose levels from 389.2+/-23.3mg/dl in diet-induced obese mice to 176.4+/-15.8mg/dl after 2 weeks of supplementation; via increasing GLUT4 translocation and skeletal muscle uptake of glucose. This reduction of blood sugar is unique to diabetic mice, as it does not affect control mice with impaired glucose metabolism.
Interestingly, fucoxanthin can increase the levels of DHA (a component of Fish Oil) in the liver tissue independent of fish oil supplementation; some anti-diabetic effects of fish oil pertaining to the liver (such as reduction of fatty liver build-up secondary to PPARs) may apply to fucoxanthin. The combination of both these nutraceuticals has been shown to reduce the weight gain and blood glucose associated with diabetic mice as well.
Fucoxanthin appears to have anti-diabetic effects by normalizing the function of skeletal muscle in diabetes; this effect of normalization does not affect non-diabetic animals
When macrophages are stimulated with LPS, fucoxanthin is able to reduce NO production from macrophages and subsequent PGE(2) production, iNOS induction, and COX-2 expression when coincubated at 15uM, and increased in anti-inflammatory potential in a relatively dose-dependent manner up to 60uM (highest tested dose). mRNA levels of iNOS and COX-2 were also reduced with fucoxanthin, as well as both mRNA and protein content of TNF-a. Interestingly, the anti-inflammatory effects of brown seaweed are highly correlated with fucoxanthin content and the seaweed Myagropsis myagroides possesses the greatest anti-inflammatory activity (of 9 tested seaweeds). All of these effects have been confirmed in vivo when injected into rats at a gram per gram potency similar to prednisone, and dose-dependence still exists in vivo.
Fucoxanthin has also been shown to inhibit degradation of IκB-α, a negative regulatory of nF-kB, which could ultimately result in anti-inflammatory effects of fucoxanthin. It is possible the effects mentioned above (regarding cytokines and mRNA levels) are due to inhibition of nF-kB translocation. This mechanism carries over to fucoxanthinol, the circulating metabolite of fucoxanthin, and may be the direct mechanism of action for fucoxanthin's anti-inflammatory effects.
These anti-inflammatory effects seem to carry over to two naturally occurring metabolites of fucoxanthin found in the seaweed Sargassum siliquastrum and are the causative nutrients behind the anti-inflammatory properties of Laminaria japonica.
Fucoxanthin and fucoxanthinol have been shown to inhibit proliferation of CD4(+) T-cells in response of IL-17 stimulation, which shows promise in treating disease states associated with TGF(b) and IF-17 related inflammation. This effect on T-cells was not seen with related compounds lutein, lycopene, nor Astaxanthin and was not as effective as the research standard of all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) and these effects were hypothesized to be secondary to Treg cell development via the retinoic acid receptor.
Fucoxanthin has been shown to reduce the release if inflammatory cytokines such as IL-6, MCP-1 and TNF-a from adipose tissue of diabetic rats with apparently no effect on non-diabetic rats; suggesting a conditional anti-inflammatory effect which may precede its anti-diabetic effects as MCP-1 and TNF-a are known to be pro-diabetic.
Fucoxanthin, at 1-10uM, has been shown to reduce the changes in CYP3A4 and MRP1 mRNA (-55%) (and CYP3A4 protein content) by rifampin in HepG2 cells; rifampin increases activity of these two proteins, and this attentuation of an increase may play a beneficial role in multidrug resistance associated with cancer treatment. This effect appears to be mechanistically related to the CYP3A4 promoter and MRP1, as it also inhibits hCAR induction of CYP3A4 (88% attentuation) and does not influence PXR nor hCAR activity.
Even without the PXR inducer, fucoxanthin was able to suppress CYP3A4 activity by 21% at 10uM in a concentration dependent manner and reduce protein content by 33% over 24 hours, by decreasing mRNA transcription rates.
May reduce activity of CYP3A4, which is an enzyme that metabolizes more than 50% of pharmaceuticals in existence. Would be prudent to ask a medical doctor about possible interactions.
In the intervention on humans, it was found that Xanthigen-600 (contributing 2.4mg fucoxanthin daily) reduced ALT from 48+/-7 to 26+/-7 U/l, AST from 51+/-5 to 29+/-6 U/l, and GGT levels from 47+/-7 to 31+/-5 U/l. 2 weeks after the trial ended, these changes were maintained.
Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, or NAFLD, is increased deposition of triglycerides and fatty acids in the liver which adversely influences a variety of health parameters. In the intervention on humans, it was found that Xanthigen-600 (contributing 2.4mg fucoxanthin daily) had no effect on liver fat for 8 weeks of supplementation, but then by week 16 reduced liver fat by 15.3+/-4.1% in the group with baseline liver fat over 11% (the study's definition of NAFLD), and by 9.4+/-3.1% in the group with less than 11% baseline liver fat. These effects correlate well with fucoxanthin's effects on adipose tissue, and may be secondary to general fat burning.
Fucoxanthin shows synergism with Fish Oil, in which 6.9% of fish oil with 0.1% fucoxanthin in the diet is as potent as 0.2% fucoxanthin. This may be due to increased bioavailability, as the inclusion of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) has also been shown to increase the efficacy of fucoxanthin via increased absorption. Conjugated Linoleic Acid has also been shown to aid fucoxanthin's anti-obesity effects in rats.
Fucoxanthin can also increase hepatic stores of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the liver independent of fish oil supplementation.
Coingestion of fucoxanthin with fatty acids, via increasing intestinal absorption of fucoxanthin and fucoxanthinol (a metabolite) increases the effects of fucoxanthin in the body since more gets into your body
Punicic Acid is a conjugated linoleic acid (structurally different from the standard Conjugated Linoleic Acid known as CLA) derived from Pomegranate. The two molecules have been shown to be synergistic in regards to suppressing adipocyte differentiation and related biomarkers such as: PPARy and C/EBPs, FOXO1 and FOXO3a, SIRT1, Fatty Acid Synthase, and AMPK/ACC phosphorylation. All effects seen were conducive to either suppressing differentation or otherwise preventing lipid accumulation in adipocytes and the synergism was towards anti-obesity. These results were seen in vitro, and are unrelated to increased bioavailability of fucoxanthin.
As assessed by the lone human study on the matter, there is benefit to combining Pomegranate Seed Oil and Fucoxanthin as this study used Xanthigen. Fucoxanthin at 2.4mg raised metabolic rate by 6.39+/-0.17kJ/min at the end of the study while the same dose with Pomegranate extract (300mg) increased it by 7.03+/-0.33kJ/min (a 10% increase) while Pomegranate even at 1500mg had no effect on metabolic rate.
Neither study disclosed interaction with companies invested in Xanthigen.
A relatively weak synergism, but a synergism none-the-less. Pomegranate Seed Oil and possibly Punicic Acid appear to increase the fat loss effects of Fucoxanthin
Despite being stored in the body for long periods (which may lead to overload symptoms in some molecules), toxicity has not been noted in mouse models. When tested for its mutagenicity (ability to produce mutations in DNA), fucoxanthinol (the circulating metabolite of fucoxanthin) came back negative in all in vitro tests and oral dosages of 2,000mg/kg bodyweight were unable to cause short-term adverse effects.
(Common misspellings for Fucoxanthin include Fucoxanthine, fucoxantene)
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