Marine phytoplankton, the microscopic plants that form the foundation of the ocean's food web, offer more than just ecological significance. Increasingly, they are being recognised for their potential health benefits. This article aims to shed light on the various ways marine phytoplankton can contribute to your well-being, from providing essential nutrients to potentially supporting immune function. Whether you're already familiar with these oceanic microorganisms or are curious about their health-promoting properties, read on to discover the science-backed benefits of marine phytoplankton.
What are the Benefits of Marine Phytoplankton?
(1) Rich in Nutrients
Marine phytoplankton is a nutrient-dense microorganism, containing a wide array of vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids. These micronutrients play various roles in cellular function and overall health. For instance, vitamins like B12 are crucial for metabolic processes, while minerals like magnesium and zinc contribute to enzyme function and immune response.
(2) The Best Omega-3 Source
One of the most prominent health benefits of marine phytoplankton is its Omega-3 fatty acid content, specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Omega-3s are essential polyunsaturated fatty acids that have been shown to improve heart health by reducing inflammation and lowering triglyceride levels. The EPA form found in marine phytoplankton is readily utilised by the body, making it an effective plant-based source of this essential nutrient.
(3) Antioxidant Properties
Marine phytoplankton is rich in antioxidants, which are compounds that help combat oxidative stress by neutralising free radicals. Oxidative stress is linked to a range of health issues, including aging, inflammation, and chronic diseases like cancer. The antioxidants in marine phytoplankton, such as chlorophyll and Superoxide Dismutase (SOD), can contribute to cellular health and longevity.
(4) Supports Immune System
There is growing evidence to suggest that marine phytoplankton may bolster the immune system. Some studies indicate that the microalgae can stimulate the activity of macrophages, the cells responsible for detecting and destroying pathogens. This could potentially enhance the body's natural defence mechanisms, making it more resilient to infections and diseases.
(5) Energy Boost
Marine phytoplankton is often cited for its potential to increase energy levels. The nutrient-dense composition provides essential compounds needed for cellular energy production, like amino acids and magnesium. These elements play a role in the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the molecule that stores and transfers energy within cells. As a result, marine phytoplankton could offer a natural way to enhance physical and mental energy levels.
(6) Mood Enhancement
Marine phytoplankton contains Omega-3 fatty acids, notably EPA, which have been linked to improved mental health. Scientific studies suggest that Omega-3s can modulate neurotransmitter activity, including serotonin and dopamine, which play crucial roles in mood regulation. This could potentially help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.
(7) Skin Health
The antioxidants and essential fatty acids in marine phytoplankton contribute to healthier skin. Antioxidants like chlorophyll can combat oxidative stress, a contributing factor to skin aging and conditions like acne. Essential fatty acids, including Omega-3s, support skin hydration and may reduce inflammation, leading to improved skin texture and appearance.
While more research is needed in this area, some proponents claim that marine phytoplankton aids in detoxification. The theory is that the chlorophyll and other nutrients in phytoplankton can help flush toxins from the body, thus aiding in liver function and overall detoxification processes.
(9) Digestive Health
Marine phytoplankton contains fiber and essential nutrients that can promote a healthier digestive system. Fiber aids in digestion by providing bulk to stools and promoting regular bowel movements. The various vitamins and minerals in marine phytoplankton can also support gut health by nourishing the intestinal lining and potentially fostering a healthy gut microbiome.
(10) Cardiovascular Benefits
The Omega-3 fatty acids in marine phytoplankton can have significant cardiovascular benefits. Research has shown that Omega-3s can help lower bad cholesterol levels and elevate good cholesterol, thus improving the overall lipid profile. They are also known to reduce arterial inflammation and lower blood pressure, contributing to better heart health.
Study Proves Benefits of Marine Phytoplankton for Exercise recovery and Muscle Damage
A recent study published in Nutrients investigated the effects of antioxidant-rich marine phytoplankton supplementation (Oceanix) on exercise recovery and muscle damage. The researchers found several notable benefits:
- Lowered muscle damage: Phytoplankton supplementation reduced levels of creatine kinase, a marker of muscle damage, compared to placebo after a strenuous cross-training workout.
- Sustained power output: Squat jump power declined more in the placebo group than the phytoplankton group at 24 hours after the workout, indicating supplementation helped sustain power.
- Prevented strength declines: Losses in maximal isometric strength from pre to post-workout were lesser in the phytoplankton versus placebo group.
- Enhanced antioxidant capacity: In an animal model, phytoplankton supplementation improved antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase compared to exercise alone. This suggests enhanced antioxidant protection.
- Reduced oxidative stress: Biomarkers of oxidative stress and muscle damage were lowered in exercised rats supplemented with phytoplankton versus exercise alone.
In summary, phytoplankton supplementation was able to reduce muscle damage, better sustain power and strength, and enhance antioxidant status compared to placebo. This indicates it may improve recovery from strenuous exercise involving endurance, power and strength components. The researchers concluded marine phytoplankton could be an effective aid for high-performance athletes.
Sharp, M., Sahin, K., Stefan, M., Orhan, C., Gheith, R., Reber, D., Sahin, N., Tuzcu, M., Lowery, R., Durkee, S., & Wilson, J. (2020). Phytoplankton Supplementation Lowers Muscle Damage and Sustains Performance across Repeated Exercise Bouts in Humans and Improves Antioxidant Capacity in a Mechanistic Animal. Nutrients, 12(7). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12071990