So far 20 research articles have been published in peer-reviewed medical journals on the benefits of astaxanthin, a substance extracted from krill, which can be purchased as a supplement without a prescription, in delaying the development of diabetic complications. This substance, which is what makes salmon pink and gives them the energy they need to swim upstream during the mating season, has been studied especially for its ability to retard the deterioration of cognitive function in diabetics. Almost all of the results published so far have just shown positive benefits in rats and mice, but since the full acceptance of astaxanthin as a adjunctive therapy in diabetes will take another twenty years or so, and most of us can’t afford to wait, it seems worth trying, especially since it is not harmful.
Here is the abstract of one study of astaxanthin in delaying the worst complication of diabetes, renal failure:
Eur J Nutr. 2015 Mar;54(2):301-7. doi: 10.1007/s00394-014-0711-2. Epub 2014 May 13.
Astaxanthin from shrimp by-products ameliorates nephropathy in diabetic rats.
Sila A1, Ghlissi Z, Kamoun Z, Makni M, Nasri M, Bougatef A, Sahnoun Z.
This study investigated the hypoglycemic and antioxidant effects of shrimp astaxanthin on the kidney of alloxan-induced diabetic rats.
Animals were distributed into four groups of six rats each: a control group ©, a diabetic group (D), a diabetic group supplemented with Astaxanthin (D+As) dissolved in olive oil and a diabetic group supplemented with olive oil (D+OO). In vitro antidiabetic effect was tested in plasma and kidney tissue.
The group D of rats showed significant (P < 0.05) increase of glycemia, creatinine, urea and uric acid levels compared to those of the control group ©. Moreover, plasma and kidney malondialdehyde (MDA) and protein carbonyl (PCO) levels for the rats of the group D were significantly increased compared to the control group. Contrariwise, antioxidant enzyme activities, such as catalase (EC 220.127.116.11), superoxide dismutase (EC 18.104.22.168) and non-enzymatic levels of reduced glutathione, were significantly (P < 0.05) decreased in the plasma and kidney of diabetic rats compared to the control ones. The astaxanthin supplementation in rats diet improved the antioxidant enzyme activities and significantly decreased the MDA and PCO levels compared to diabetic rats. Indeed, no significant (P ≥ 0.05) improvement was observed for the fourth group (D+OO) compared to the control group ©. Histological analysis of kidney showed glomerular hypertrophy and tubular dilatation for the diabetic rats. For D+As rats, these histopathological changes were less prominent.
Our results suggest that shrimp astaxanthin may play an important role in reduction of oxidative damage and could prevent pathological changes in diabetic rats suggesting promising application of shrimp astaxanthin in diabet treatment.
I have tried it and find that over the short term its main benefit is cognitive, in that it stimulates the formation of new ideas in a dramatic way. It also promotes energy. The downside I have found is that it makes the symptoms of hypoglycemia worse, perhaps by increasing the demand for glucose and oxygen in the brain so that deprivations of glucose have a greater impact.