You should be able to buy it soon: tomatidine, the anabolic in tomatoes
Yesterday we wrote about tomatidine, a steroid-like substance in tomatoes that prevents hardening of the arteries. In-vitro and animal studies that molecular scientists at the University of Iowa published in 2014 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry suggest that tomatidine also has an anabolic effect. Tomatidine makes muscles bigger and stronger, boosts endurance capacity, and inhibits the growth of fat mass.
The researchers carried out in-vitro and animal studies. In most of the animal studies they used feed that contained 0.05 percent tomatidine. The human equivalent of this dose would be about 0.5 g per day. The animal studies lasted nine weeks.
And before we forget: the researchers were financed by their university and the American government, not by the supplements industry.
In in-vitro studies, muscle cells that the researchers exposed to tomatidine formed muscle fibres faster than normal. They also formed more mitochondria and produced more protein structures. Tomatidine activated the anabolic signalling molecules Akt and SK6, and induced the muscle cells to produce more IGF-1 and PGC-1-alpha.
The addition of tomatidine to the feed stimulated muscle growth in both young and older mice. The figure below shows the results for the older lab mice. TA = tibialis anterior.
Tomatidine made the mice a little stronger and boosted their endurance capacity. It's not surprising that tomatidine supplementation resulted in an increase in lean body mass in the lab mice - and at the same time inhibited an increase in fat mass.
Lastly, the researchers discovered that tomatidine inhibits muscle breakdown during fasting.
"If proven to be safe, tomatidine could be investigated as a potential pharmaceutical agent or lead compound for the treatment of skeletal muscle atrophy, either as monotherapy or in combination with other therapeutic agents that may be developed", the researchers concluded.
"Tomatidine and/or alpha-tomatine could also be investigated as possible ingredients in functional foods and nutraceuticals designed to maintain muscle mass and function in persons without muscle atrophy."
By the way, the researchers are optimistic that the results of studies on the safety of tomatidine will be positive. "In humans, dietary tomatidine comes from ingestion of alpha-tomatine, which is abundant in green tomatoes (up to 0.5 g/kg fresh weight), but typically decreases by approximately 99% as tomatoes ripen", they wrote.
"It appears that humans can safely consume green tomatoes as well as tomato cultivars that fail to degrade alpha-tomatine [Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1994 Dec 20;91(26):12877-81.] upon ripening."
"It is also interesting that alpha-tomatine is higher in organically grown tomatoes [J Sci Food Agric. 2013 May;93(7):1537-42.] compared to conventionally grown tomatoes."
If you're thinking of experimenting with tomatidine, you might want to keep an eye on the website of Antaeus Labs. [antaeuslabs.com] After almost three years of work, Antaeus is about to launch a product containing tomatidine.
J Biol Chem. 2014 May 23;289(21):14913-24.
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