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Salmon Pigment May Help Prevent Dementia

January 31, 2011: 08:18 AM EST

The pigment astaxanthin makes salmon pink, and may also help prevent dementia.  Compounds called phospholipid hydroperoxides (PLOOH) occur in abnormal levels in the red blood cells (erythrocytes) of dementia sufferers. According to a Japanese study, astaxanthin seems to reduce PLOOH accumulation. After 12 weeks (a relatively short time), subjects who received daily supplements of astaxanthin showed significant reduction in PLOOH levels. Researchers found that when astaxanthin is absorbed into the body, it accumulates in red blood cells, at which point it displays antioxidant-like properties, preventing the buildup of PLOOH in those cells. Currently, the pigment’s main health benefits are to the eyes and skin, but it seems to improve joint and central nervous system health as well.

K. Nakagawa, T. Kiko, T. Miyazawa, G. Carpentero Burdeos, F. Kimura, A. Satoh, T. Miyazawa, "Antioxidant effect of astaxanthin on phospholipid peroxidation in human erythrocytes", British Journal of Nutrition, January 31, 2011, © The Authors
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