Fucoxanthin / Fucoidan – Eye Nutrients of the Future?

seaweed2Chinese scientists have identified nutrients that come from marine algae that may prove to provide even better support for vision health problems due to computer eye syndrome than the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. Fucoxanthin1 comes from a brown seaweed where it is the primary part of the light-absorbing mechanism of the plant.  It is what gives seaweed a brown or olive-green color.

It is known that blue light emitted from many types of computer, mobile and hand-held devices damages vision.  As a type of carotenoid known as a xanthophyll,  fucoxanthin is important — it absorbs blue-green to yellow-green colors of visible light and so helps protect your vision. It is found in seaweeds such as wakame, hijiki, kombu and bladderwrack.

Fucoidan also comes from brown algae and is a sulfated polysaccharide, a macro-molecule with a repeating structure.   Fucoidan is found in the same seaweeds that carry fucoxanthin.

While plenty of on-going research is looking at both nutrients with respect to their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer, and pain-fighting properties2 , we are most interested in their potential in supporting vision.


Small in-vivo and in-vitro studies using simulations of blue-light induced retinal damage concluded that  fucoxanthin “exhibits better bioactivities than lutein, zeaxanthin and blueberry” in accomplishing several important tasks:

  • It inhibited growth of extra blood vessels – important in the delicate retina where these extra blood vessels distort and damage neighboring retinal cells.
  • It resisted premature cell aging and cellular death.
  • It supported functioning of phagocytes which are the cells critical for the immune system which help to remove waste and invading cells (hence the potential anti-cancer property).
  • It removed oxidizing free radicals from retinal cells.


  • Researchers found that fucoidan may be effective against age-related macular degeneration because it reduces extraneous blood vessel growth (neovascularization) where cells have not been receiving enough oxygen. 3
  • Like fucoxanthin, fucoidan has been found to help resist premature cell aging and death.4
  • In lab animals fucoidan has been found to reduce neovascularization that causes diabetic retinopathy.5

We’re keeping an eye on these important nutrients for their vision-supportive effects.

Next: Here’s a great tangy recipe for seaweed salad that takes advantage of the benefits of fucoxanthin and fucoidan.


  1. Y. Liu, et al, Protective Effect of Fucoxanthin Isolated from Laminaria japonica against Visible Light-Induced Retinal Damage Both in Vitro and in Vivo, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, January, 2016.
  2. Soheil Z. Moghadamtousi, et al, Anticancer and Antitumor Potential of Fucoidan and Fucoxanthin, Two Main Metabolites Isolated from Brown Algae, The Scientific World Journal, 2014
  3. M. Dithmer, Fucoidan reduces secretion and expression of vascular endothelial growth factor in the retinal pigment epithelium and reduces angiogenesis in vitro, PLoS One, February, 2014.
  4. ibid.
  5. W. Yang, et al., Attenuation of streptozotocin-induced diabetic retinopathy with low molecular weight fucoidan via inhibition of vascular endothelial growth factor, Experimental Eye Research, October, 2013.