Fucoidan: A marine compound with potential to limit viral lung damage

The past 12 months have seen the world grapple with one of the greatest health threats of our generation. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the global community, directly impacting diets and behaviors and heightening consumer interest in immune health. Nutritional strategies to help promote immune competence have become more relevant than ever before and are of particular interest to new product innovators.

More specifically, ingredients targeting immune function are in high demand. None more so than those that are naturally sourced, certified organic and supported by independent scientific evidence. One such example is fucoidan, a bioactive polysaccharide that occurs naturally in brown seaweeds.

A new Australian review discusses recent research into the potential for fucoidan to assist in limiting lung damage that is often caused by respiratory viral infections. Respiratory viral infections, including the SARS-CoV-2 virus, can cause both acute and chronic damage to the lungs and other major organs. Chronic lung damage caused by respiratory viral infections, and ensuing bacterial infections, often takes considerable time to heal. It can also result in permanent lung scarring and difficulties in the rebuilding of damaged lung architecture.

Fucoidan preparations have potential as supplementary dietary agents – they present an opportunity to limit the damage caused by respiratory viral infections by restoring innate immune function and inhibiting inflammation. The new review summarizes the current research on fucoidan in this area, noting that the marine compound has been shown to increase innate immunity and decrease inflammation in both clinical and animal studies. In addition, dietary fucoidan has been shown to attenuate pulmonary damage in an animal model of acute viral infection.

This article is available in full in the February-March 2021 issue of Nutraceuticals Now

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