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In early 1992, a chance meeting with a man in a bar in Ireland led Marigot Group founder Les Auchincloss on a remarkable journey that uncovered a unique marine plant-based material
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The product, a red seaweed found only in certain global locations, was historically used locally in Ireland to adjust the pH in soil, but proved to have multiple uses for improved health and nutritional well-being for animals and humans.
With his entrepreneurial approach, thirst for knowledge, scientific understanding of natural compounds and huge interest in all natural products, Auchincloss decided to explore the seaweed further while relying on his gut feeling that this product was far more than just a calcium source.
Marine Minerals for Animal and Human Nutrition Applications
Derived from the Lithothamnion seaweed species, the product was relatively unknown for use in any nutritional health-based applications at the time. Although some knowledge was available regarding the raw material’s locations, investigations into the standard physiological and chemical properties still had to be performed to understand what the seaweed’s nutritional composition was.
The market development for the product was pioneered by Cork-based Marigot Ltd, which constantly created awareness and innovated the use and inclusion of the 74 marine minerals derived from the seaweed that are beneficial for animal and human nutrition. During this time, extensive human studies ensued in an effort to fully evaluate the clinical attributes present within the material, including bioavailability, mineral bioactivity, bone integrity, anti-inflammatory and pain reduction, along with optimal absorption criteria and reducing bone mineral loss within ageing populations.
Functional Ingredient for Enhanced Digestive Health
During the last several years, under the close direction of Auchincloss and his growing team of researchers, Marigot has comprehensively expanded the knowledge of this product. By working extensively with both local and international universities, as well as contracted researchers, Marigot has successfully gathered a wealth of understanding about how this sustainably sourced mineral-rich plant material can enhance digestive health, especially for consumers of high-fat diets.
“This work has been truly unique, proving beyond doubt that the natural minerals present in the Lithothamnion seaweed have multiple health benefits and allow for new opportunities to be considered outside of the normal bone and joint health channels,” said Marigot’s Commercial Manager, David O’Leary.” Today, under our Aquamin product range, Marigot promotes the use of this mineral rich complex for use in all food, beverage and dietary supplement product types. Supported by an ever increasing portfolio of peer-reviewed scientific publications, this material has garnered strong credentials for use in any bone joint or digestive health formula.”
The Western Style Diet
In today’s face-paced world, convenience and highly processed foods are often a staple in our diets. This increasingly common and unhealthy way of eating has been dubbed The Western Style Diet, and it is a diet that’s high in saturated fats, processed carbohydrates, sugar and empty calories, and low in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and seafood. Additionally, the intake of many essential minerals is significantly lower in the Western Style Diet than is recommended for good health.
Consequently, this diet is associated with a range of diseases, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, type II diabetes, colorectal cancer, liver cancer and osteoporosis, as well as inflammation and disorders of the digestive system.
Reintroducing the 74 Sea-Derived Minerals
For the past decade, Marigot has worked closely with Professor James Varani and his colleagues at the University of Michigan Medical School, questioning whether the increase in diagnoses of these diseases might be explained as much by what was absent from the Western Style Diet, such as essential minerals, as by the overload of saturated fats and refined carbohydrates present in the diet.
To tackle this question, Professor Varani used Aquamin to determine whether the reintroduction of the 74 sea-derived minerals that the ingredient contains back into the diet would have any effect on some of the serious digestive diseases associated with the Western Style Diet.
These investigations began in vitro, with preliminary observations showing that cultured gut-lining (epithelial) cells showed improved differentiation and proliferation in the presence of Aquamin.1
These initial results proved that the minerals in Aquamin helped to maintain a healthy digestive barrier, which is necessary to prevent chronic inflammation in the gut.
These initial studies were followed by more detailed investigations into the role of Aquamin in digestive health and the role of minerals in the regulation of gastrointestinal (GI) inflammation. When Aquamin was added into a mouse version of the Western Style Diet, it was found to protect mice from generalized inflammation in the gut, colon polyp formation and fatty liver disease.2
This finding was repeated in another trial, in which mined limestone rock was compared with sea-plant-based Aquamin. Again, despite each group of mice consuming the same amount of calcium, the mice fed Aquamin were protected against GI inflammation and resultant polyp formation.3 Professor Varani also observed a high incidence of liver mass formation in mice on the Western Style Diet and noted that those fed Aquamin developed significantly fewer liver masses.4
More Than Just Calcium
Taken together, these results have prompted Marigot, alongside colleagues from the University of Michigan, to ascertain whether these anti-inflammatory effects in vitro and in the digestive tract of mice can also be observed in humans. This FDA approved and regulated trial is currently under way. If these findings can be extrapolated to humans, they have the potential to open up a new avenue for the prevention of digestive injury occurring as a consequence of poor nutrition.
It is equally important to note that no critical nutrient, including calcium, functions in a vacuum; how well calcium or any other mineral performs depends on the presence or absence of other minerals. Furthermore, a diet that is deficient in calcium may well be deficient in other nutrients.
Although calcium is a critical component, it is unlikely that it is responsible for all the activity in the natural marine complex. The level of colon polyp prevention seen with the multiminerals is clearly greater than previously evidenced for calcium alone, which leads to the strong argument that these minerals work more effectively when found together in their inert, natural forms.
Other minerals present in the marine algae, including copper, chromium, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc, have all been shown to reduce tumour formations or suppress other types of tissue injury in the GI tract. It is also thought that each of these elements may exert some level of protection against polyp formation by itself or they may well function synergistically with one another or with calcium.
Minerals Working Together to Reduce Colon Polyp Formation
In summary, Marigot’s digestive health studies prove that the minerals present in the marine algae, Aquamin, are able to reduce colon polyp formation in high-fat and low-fat diets. Calcium alone cannot explain the protective effects of the multimineral complex, and the many other additional minerals present must contribute to colon chemoprevention and be more efficacious than use of just calcium on its own.
The science-based evidence that is emerging goes a long way to re-enforce the strong belief that Marigot’s founder, Auchincloss, had: this mineral algae was always more than just calcium. Researchers at Marigot continuously grow more confident that, with time and further leading research, a greater understanding of the composition of this mineral algae will be available to further enhance the standing and scientific credibility of this material, which is recommended for all age groups.
O’Leary comments on the uniquely scientific and entrepreneurial business approach that Marigot continues to foster: “We are clear about the need for science — the requirement to continuously add value and innovate with this unique ingredient through extensive research thereby enhancing not only our knowledge but ultimately that of our customers. To reach a deep level of understanding and deliver wide ranging consumer-based product opportunities with Aquamin we believe will serve us well into the future.”
1. M.D. Aslam, et al., “Growth-Inhibitory Effects of a Mineralized Extract from the Red Marine Algae, Lithothamnion calcareum, on Ca2+-Sensitive and Ca2+-Resistant Human Colon Carcinoma Cells,” Cancer Letters 283, 186–192 (2009).
2. M.D. Aslam, et al., “A Mineral-Rich Red Algae Extract Inhibits Polyp Formation and Inflammation in the Gastrointestinal Tract of Mice on a High-Fat Diet,” Integrative Cancer Therapies 9(1) 93–99 2010.
3. M.D. Aslam, et al., “A Multimineral Natural Product from Red Marine Algae Reduces Colon Polyp Formation in C57BL/6 Mice,” Nutrition and Cancer 64(7), 1020–1028 (2012).
4. M.D. Aslam, et al., “A Multi-Mineral Natural Product Inhibits Liver Tumor Formation in C57BL/6 Mice,” Biol. Trace Elem. Res. 147, 267–274 (2012).