Fucoxanthin is a type of carotenoid that can be found organically in edible brown seaweed called wakame and is a popular ingredient used in Asian cuisine. Wakame isn’t the only seaweed that contains fucoxanthin, it is also found—albeit in much smaller amounts—in red seaweed and green seaweed.
Sushi lovers are familiar with red seaweed as it is commonly found in sushi rolls. Scientists soon discovered that fucoxanthin could promote fat burning within fat cells in white adipose tissue by increasing the process of thermogenisis.
The makers of Fucoxanthin claim it has the uncanny knack for targeting fat that accumulates around the body’s organs–especially belly fat. Most of the early studies have been performed on rats and mice at a University in Japan.
How does Fucoxanthin work?
Fucoxanthin is said to target a protein called UCP1, which stimulates a process in the body called thermogenisis. This process heats up fat cells causing these cells to expend energy to metabolize fat. But fucoxanthin is also thought to target a type of fat called visceral fat, which congregates around the body’s organs, especially around the abdominal region. This abdominal fat, otherwise known as adipose tissue, can also be linked to other ailments such as heart disease and diabetes and Fucoxanthin may help the body fight those ailments.
Most of the research appears to come from a couple of studies done at Hokkaido University, a national university in Japan. These studies, performed on mice and rats showed a significant increase of fat burning. The study features two groups of mice. Both underwent the same diet and exercise program, but one group was given the supplement Fucoxanthin and at the conclusion of the study, the group given Fucoxanthin lost 5 to 10% of their body fat. It was especially effective in the abdominal area of the mice, an area difficult to target. It is because of these benefits, Fucoxanthin has become a popular ingredient in dietary supplements.
What else should I know about Fucoxanthin?
The supplement is fairly accessible and is usually ingested in capsule form. You can find it various supplement stores or online. It seems to have the best results when included with other solid ingredients, which allows the supplement to work in synergy with them.
Because of Fucoxanthin’s natural roots, it doesn’t appear at this time to have any negative side effects. But a word of caution: humans shouldn’t consume large portions of wakame or other seaweed as a means of subjecting the body to Fucoxanthin. Seaweed is rich in iodine, and an over exposure to that compound could result iodine poisoning, which could lead to complications of the thyroid gland.