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Seaweed Component Siphonaxanthin May Fight Fat and Cancer

Seaweed component siphonaxanthin may fight fat

A type of marine algae or seaweed called siphonaxanthin has demonstrated an ability to fight fat as well as provide another potential health benefit. What is special about siphonaxanthin?


Siphonaxanthin is a xanthophyll, which is a type of carotenoid. You may be familiar with other types of carotenoids, including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. While these carotenoids are usually associated with common fruits and vegetables, siphonaxanthin is found in various green algae.

Numerous studies have explored the benefits of siphonaxanthin, and the latest one looked at its antiobesity effects in cell cultures and diabetic mice. A research team from Japan examined the impact of siphonaxanthin and other carotenoids (i.e., beta-carotene, fucoxanthin, and zeaxanthin) on 3T3-L1 cells (cells used to study adipose [fat] tissue) and on male diabetic mice models. Fucoxanthin is found in brown algae and has been associated with weight loss.

The researchers discovered that compared with the other carotenoids:

  • Siphonaxanthin was better at inhibiting fat cell formation and the accumulation of fat in these adipose cells
  • In the mice, siphonaxanthin significantly reduced the total weight of white fat tissue by 13 percent and the mesenteric (tissue that attaches organs to the body wall) white fat tissue by 28 percent

The authors concluded that their findings “provide evidence that siphonaxanthin may effectively regulate adipogenesis [the process by which preadipocytes turn into adipocytes, or fat cells]” in cell cultures and diabetic mice.

Siphonaxanthin is found in green algae such as Codium fragile, Caulerpa lentillifera, and Umbraulva japonica. Its function in algae is to help absorb green and blue green light under water.

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Another siphonaxanthin benefit
Another recent (June 2014) study, published in Marine Drugs, compared the effect of siphonaxanthin and fucoxanthin on human leukemia cells. Generally, siphonaxanthin demonstrated several features that showed it was more potent than fucoxanthin.

For example, siphonaxanthin had better anti-angiogenic activity, which means it was better at preventing the production of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, which is associated with cancer. This study is the most recent of several research endeavors suggesting siphonaxanthin can help in the destruction of human leukemia cells.

If future studies of siphonaxanthin continue to indicate it may be helpful in weight management, it will still be a while before consumers can take advantage of this carotenoid, probably in supplement form. For now, it is one more substance to keep an eye on as a possible aid for weight loss and perhaps even a role in diabetes and cancer.

Read about how fiber in seaweed may help with obesity
Also read about Seaweed Secrets

Sugawara T et al. Siphonaxanthin, a green algal carotenoid, as a novel functional compound. Marine Drugs 2014 Jun 19; 12(6): 3660-68
Zhuo-Si Li et al. The green algal carotenoid siphonaxanthin inhibits adipogenesis in 3T3-Li preadipocytes and the accumulation of lipids in white adipose tissue of KK-Ay mice. Journal of Nutrition 2015 Mar 1

Photo: Wikimedia