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Pigment Found In Salmon May Boost Immune Health

Researchers from Washington State University recently conducted the first comprehensive human study on astaxanthin, the pigment that gives salmon its pink color. They found that it may boost the immune system and protect DNA from damage.

The study was published in the March 2010 issue of the journal Nutrition & Metabolism.

42 healthy women with an average age of 21 were recruited for the 8 week study. The women were randomly assigned to one of three groups. One group received a daily placebo and the other two groups received 2 and 8 mg of astaxanthin.

At the end of the study the researchers observed a 43% reduction in a marker for DNA damage among the group given the high dose astaxanthin and a 32% reduction among the group given the lower dose.

They also observed a significant reduction in markers of inflammation, an increase in the activity of natural killer cells and increases in the number of T and B cells, which play an important role in the immune system.

It is believed that these benefits derive from the high level of antioxidants present in astaxanthin. Astaxanthin has been reported to have 500 times the antioxidant capacity of vitamin E.

Previous studies have shown that astaxanthin may improve eye, skin and joint health and may even boost nervous system function.

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