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Astaxanthin and muscle recovery and muscle health

When we do any exercises – or for that matter move any muscles, our body generates Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) – and although this is a totally normal reaction – an over accumulation of ROS (which are free radicals) can cause our body to age faster in the long term, and can also cause degenerative diseases. These ROS can also influence your athletic and general performance, as excessive free radicals will also lead to your muscles taking a longer time to recuperate.

astaxanthin muscle recovery  

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Other pages of interest regarding the effect of astaxanthin:

© Fuji Health Science and various patents (incl. US# 6,245,818 & WO9911251) - clinical reference

Physical endurance and muscle recovery Astaxanthin muscle recovery endurance muscle strenght

Work, sport, leisure – in fact all physical activity will generate reactive oxygen species (ROS); the more intense the activity the greater number of free radicals. ROS are shown to have damaging effects on muscle performance and recovery. Published and on-going research, focused on improving endurance and reducing recovery time, are showing dramatic benefits linked to the potent carotenoid - astaxanthin. These findings are bringing astaxanthin to the forefront as a dietary supplement for professional athletes and physically active people.

Important to physical activity are our mitochondrial cells, often referred to as the “power stations of the cell”, which provide as much as 95% of our body’s pure energy (primarily by the burning of muscle glycogen and fatty acids). Unfortunately, a portion of this energy produces highly reactive and damaging ROS. ROS damage cells by triggering peroxidation of the cell membrane components, and oxidation of DNA and proteins. Furthermore, ROS continue to affect muscles even after the strenuous exercise has ceased. Free radicals activate the inflammation response whereby monocytes migrate into the muscle tissue causing additional cell damage.

Often we will notice the onset of muscle damage during recovery in the form of tiredness and soreness. In addition to improving muscle performance through devised exercise regime, the sports research community is looking at other methods, such as nutrition to fuel and protect the body under extreme physical conditions. In the past, Vitamins E and C helped make the use of antioxidants a popular tool against oxidative damage during intense physical activity. Today, Astaxanthin demonstrated two important physical benefits in clinical trials and supporting studies. Astaxanthin increased endurance and reduced muscle damage in animal models.

Did you know?

An athlete performing endurance exercises at 70% VO2 max (maximum rate of oxygen consumption) may generate over 12 times the rate of internal ROS as found in the same cells during rest or sleep.

Endurance Astaxanthin muscle recovery endurance muscle strenght

In 1998, Malmsten (Karolinska Institute, Sweden) conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study on healthy men supplemented with 4 mg astaxanthin per day for up to 6 months. Standardized exercise tests demonstrated that the average number of knee bends performed increased only in the astaxanthin treated group at three months, and by the six-month significant improvements were observed (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Changes in strength/endurance

muscle strenght increasing muscle endurance

These findings suggest that astaxanthin increases our level of endurance. In addition, Sawaki et al., (2002) of Juntendo University, Japan demonstrated by using 1200-meter track athletes, that a daily dose of 6 mg per day for 4 weeks resulted in their bodies accumulating lower levels of lactic acid (Figure 2).

Under strenuous activity, the formation of lactic acid is a result of anaerobic metabolism or a consequence of insufficient oxygen for muscle demand. Under these conditions, a lower level of lactic acid typically suggests improved endurance ability.

Figure 2. Reduction of Lactic Acid Build-up After Astaxanthin Supplementation in Track Subjects (Group B)

reducing lactic acid less after exercising

The mechanism Astaxanthin muscle recovery endurance muscle strenght

Aoi et al., (2003) of Kyoto Prefecture University used mice models that may partially explain the efficacy of astaxanthin; they compared control, exercise placebo, and astaxanthin treated exercise groups after intense physical activity. Cell staining analyses of the calf (gastrocnemius) muscles and heart (cardiac) muscles revealed significantly lower cell membrane peroxidation damage. Also, biochemical markers indicating the amount of oxidative damage to DNA (8-OHdG) and proteins (4-hydroxy-2-nonenal-modified-proteins) were significantly less in the astaxanthin treated exercise group (Figure 3).

Figure 3. DNA damage

dna damage increases after exercises

At the same time, other muscle damage and inflammation damage indicators showed superior modulation of serum creatine kinase (Figure 4) and myeloperoxidase activity (Figure 5).

Figure 4. Cell membrane damage

cell membranes damaged after exercising

These effects indicate that astaxanthin has a role in helping protect muscle cell components and down modulating the inflammatory processes. Lee et al., (2003) explained that astaxanthin directly modulates inflammation caused by the release of the pro-inflammatory cytokines and mediators. In vivo and in vitro tests demonstrate that astaxanthin inhibits the IkB Kinase (IKK) dependant activation of the Nuclear Factor-kB (NF-kB) pathway, a key step in the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and mediators.

Figure 5. Inflammation

reducing muscle inflammation

Summary Astaxanthin muscle recovery endurance muscle strenght

Astaxanthin for sports nutrition shows great promise for improving endurance and reducing muscle damage particularly in very physically demanding activities and sports. The results suggest that many types of athletes may expect to retain or enhance their competitive level and state of readiness.

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