|Scott Greenberg, NatureCity author & contributor|
Researchers working from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana released a study showing that the carotenoid astaxanthin may improve performance and increase energy output of competitive cyclists.
The findings were published in the November 2011 issue of the International Journal of Sports Medicine.
The small study included 21 competitive cyclists between the ages of 18 and 39. Half of the cyclists consumed 4 mg/day of an astaxanthin extract and half consumed a placebo over the course of 28 days.
After the 28 day supplementation period, the participants fasted for 10 hours and then completed a 2 hour exhaustion ride, before completing a 20 km time trial. This ensured that their bodies would rely on fat oxidation and not carbohydrates during the time trial.
Only 14 of the bikers completed the study, 7 in each group. The group that received the astaxanthin extract showed a 5% (2 minute) improvement in time and a 15% (20 watt) improvement in power output. The group that received the placebo showed minimal improvements.
The researchers pointed out that the dietary restrictions of this study make it hard to generalize the findings for a broader group. They also noted that the exact mechanism responsible for the positive effects from astaxanthin is unknown at this time.
Astaxanthin has been shown to improve eye, skin and joint health and boost cognitive function. If you’re looking to increase your dietary intake of astaxanthin, consider consuming more salmon and rainbow trout, krill, and red-pigmented vegetables and fruits.