The underestimated ergogenic potential of Ecklonia cava
Why don't athletes use Ecklonia cava en masse? This question occurred to us when we realized that a. how cheap supplements with Ecklonia are, b. the ergogenic effects of Ecklonia have been demonstrated in human studies, c. Ecklonia has been found safe by the EFSA for human use and d. Ecklonia enhances sports performance in relatively modest dosages.
Ecklonia cava is an edible algae that grows in the oceans around Japan and South Korea. The supplement industry Ecklonia extracts that contain polyphenols such as floroglucinol, eckol, floroeckol, dieckol and bieckol.
These phenols are also called phlorotannins. The industry applies phlorotannins in slimming supplements, products that should improve insulin management and pre-workout formulas.
In 2017, the European Food Safety Authority [EFSA] decided that supplements with florotannins from Ecklonia cava are safe for human use and can be placed on the market. [EFSA Journal 2017;15(10):5003.] According to the EFSA, adults can consume a maximum of 263 milligrams per day, teenagers 163 milligrams per day.
Ten years ago, Korean scientists experimented with florotannins on 20 recreational active male students. On two occasions the researchers determined the students' endurance by letting the students run on a treadmill.
One time the students were given a placebo half an hour time before the test, the other time a supplement with 72 milligrams of Ecklonia cava extract.
The supplement improved the time that the students could keep running by more than 25 percent. The supplement did not significantly increase oxygen uptake.
After the session, the researchers found more glucose and less lactate in the blood for students if they had received Ecklonia cava extract. The Koreans suspect that the supplement stimulates the burning of fatty acids, or speeds up the removal of lactate.
"This study demonstrated the effect of Ecklonia cava polyphenol on enhanced endurance performance for the first time", write the researchers.
The article does not mention sponsorship. However, the authors are involved with the Seanol Institute, [seanolinstitute.org] an organization that not only studies the tested Ecklonia cava extract in detail, but also produces and markets it.
Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2010;20(1):72-9.
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