by bill barber
The next time someone brings up fucoxanthin in conversation; don’t think they are insulting you in a foreign language. Actually, fucoxanthin is a powerful substance found in seaweed that many believe helps in weight loss.
The substance is a carotenoid found in brown seaweed, also known as wakame, which is the seaweed commonly used in miso soup. It is found in smaller concentration levels in red seaweed, which is the variety typically used in sushi rolls, as well as green seaweed.
According to Japanese studies on animals, the naturally-occurring substance promotes the loss of abdominal fat in mice and rats. These studies were conducted at Hokkaido University in 2005 in Sapporo, Japan. The study indicated that the chemical promoted fat burning within white adipose tissue, otherwise known as abdominal fat, by increasing the expression of thermogenin.
In order to obtain the amount of fucoxanthin necessary to replicate the success of the animal studies, people must use supplements. It’s not fully understood how the chemical works to achieve such results, but it’s thought to target a protein called UCP1 which increases the rate at which abdominal fat is burned. It also appears to stimulate the body’s production of a chemical called DHA; one of the many healthy chemicals found in salmon known as an omega-3 fatty acid.
Because seaweed is high in iodine, moderation should be used when attempting to use seaweed for weight loss benefits. Iodine poisoning and thyroid damage results when a person consumes too much iodine. Also, some people are allergic to iodine.
No human studies have been published relating to fucoxanthin supplements, but the active ingredient is derived from nature. Natural medicine advocates are optimistic that the cure for many known diseases will be found in everyday herbs and plants.
Like many other plant-based natural chemicals, recent studies have found that fucoxanthin may potentially help in the fight against cancer in the future of medicine. Early test tube studies show that the chemical is effective in suppressing the reproduction of cancer cells. However, it is far too early to predict how the chemical will work as a cancer treatment in humans.
In other animal studies, the chemical has been found to help reduce insulin and blood glucose levels. In the future, the carotenoid may manifest as an option for the natural treatment of diabetes after more research shows if the same effect occurs in humans.
An unpublished human study conducted in Russia using double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled clinical studies found that weight loss was much more dramatic for the people taking the supplements than the control group. In fact, the study involved 150 obese Russian women, and the group that took the supplement lost an average of 14.5 pounds over 16 weeks, while the control group lost an average of 4 pounds in the same time frame. Both groups of women were given a calorie-controlled diet of 1,800 calories a day. The study also showed that the women taking the supplement lost much more body fat than the control group.
Because the Russian study is unpublished, the medical community is unable to analyze the research methods and data obtained in the study. Therefore, the credibility of its findings cannot be verified. However, if a naturally-occurring substance like fucoxanthin can reduce abdominal fat in humans, it will help to prevent numerous other weight-related illnesses. Here’s hoping this compound helps people to fight the battle of the bulge.