Astaxanthin: Is it Hype or Hope?
Do you know what astaxanthin (pronounced a-stə-ˈzan-thən) is? It’s a naturally occuring chemical called a carotenoid that’s found in a special type of algae. It was first isolated in 1983.1 This algae is one of salmon’s favorite foods and gives the fish its distinctive pink color. In fact, it’s often fed to farmed salmon to give them pinker flesh. It’s even used in some cosmetics.
However, it’s got a lot more going for it than just a pretty color. Like all carotenoids, astaxanthin is a powerful free-radical scavenger. There are more than 600 other carotenoids found in nature, including the beta carotene that gives fruits and vegetables such as apricots and carrots their orange color.
Yet astaxanthin is by far the most potent free-radical scanvenger. Is that just hype or should astaxanthin or an astaxanthin supplement be part of your daily routine?
Where Does Astaxanthin Come From?
As I mentioned, astaxanthin is a chemical compound found in a certain type of algae. Fish such as salmon and Arctic char eat these algae and astaxanthin can be found in their flesh. It’s also found in shellfish including shrimp, lobster, crab, and crayfish. In shellfish, it’s surrounded by a protein that is broken down by heat. That’s why shrimp is grey-ish until it’s cooked and why lobster turns bright red when it’s boiled.
A recent study showed that in aquatic animals, the astaxanthin in their diet serves to support growth performance, reproductive capacity, stress tolerance, and disease resistance. It’s also known to optimize immune-related gene expression.2
What Astaxanthin Does
Carotenoids provide protection from sunlight, heat, and toxins in the plants and animals they’re found. They do this by serving as scavengers that capture and subdue free radicals. People can get the same benefits by eating plants and animals that contain carotenoids.
In fact, ingesting carotenoids is the only way to get them because your body doesn’t make them. However, you have to eat them often and in large quantities because they’re very unstable and they degrade quickly.
Astaxanthin as a Free-Radical Scavenger
Astaxanthin’s ability as a free-radical scavenger is greater than all the other carotenoids. That’s including the well-known beta carotene I mentioned above and the canthaxanthin found in some mushrooms and eggs. It’s also more powerful than the lutein and zeaxanthin found in leafy greens, as well as the vitamin C found in oranges and the vitamin E that’s abundant in almonds.
Astaxanthin never breaks down into a pro-oxidant, or an agent that generates organic free radicals and causes oxidative damage.
Unlike those other carotenoids, astaxanthin never breaks down into a pro-oxidant, or an agent that generates organic free radicals that attack proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids and cause oxidative damage. Instead, it can support your body’s proper inflammatory response and reduce oxidation by neutralizing free radicals.
Astaxanthin is particularly good at quenching singlet oxygens.3 These are free radicals that are a major factor in photooxidative stress,4 or the damage caused by light and radiation. Singlet oxygens directly damage biological lipids, proteins, and DNA. Damage of these factors is related to serious health concerns.
5 Astaxanthin Benefits
1. Benefits Optimal Cell Function
Astaxanthin is unique among the carotenoids because of its structure, which allows it to filter into every type of cell where it can lend its electrons to stabilize free radicals. One end of the molecule protects the fat-soluble part of cells. The other protects the water-soluble part of cells. One study even showed it’s 6,000 times stronger than vitamin C!
2. Supports Vision and Eye Health
You probably grew up hearing that carrots are good for your eyes. Carotenoids have long been hailed for boosting eye health. There have been multiple studies done on the connection between astaxanthin and eye function.
It seems to be particularly supportive for those who experience eye strain from blue light or the sun’s UV rays. Astaxanthin has the unique ability to actually reach the retina. There, it can support the health and integrity of the retinal membrane.
3. Improves Skin Appearance
Your skin is your body’s largest organ and your first line of defense against invaders and damaging ultraviolet rays that can cause the growth of cancer cells. Keeping your skin in great shape is an integral part of your best health. Plus, it’s the first thing people notice, so ensuring smooth, clear, wrinkle-free skin not only boosts your health, it can also make you look and feel great.
Oxidative stress plays a crucial role in human skin aging and damage
It speeds degradation of collagen and elastin in the dermal layer. However, astaxanthin optimizes the body’s response to oxidative metabolism and sun ultraviolet (UV) light.
4. Optimizes Muscle Recovery
Athletes love astaxanthin, which supports healthy muscle function in people just like it does in fish. It can assist your body’s recovery process after exercise and muscle damage and is even known to help optimize strength and endurance.
5. Supports a Healthy Inflammatory Response
Astaxanthin impacts the COX 2 pathway. It can support your body in the suppression of serum levels of nitric oxide, interleukin 1B, prostaglandin E2, C Reactive Protein (CRP) and TNF-alpha (tumor necrosis factor alpha.) This helps modulate your immune system response and support your cardiovascular system.
What’s the Right Dose of Astaxanthin?
Remember, I mentioned you have to eat a lot of fish to get astaxanthin’s benefits? In fact, wild arctic salmon has the highest levels of astaxanthin in its muscles. Scientists think this may be because they need to be incredibly strong to swim upstream.
I often advocate including wild-caught salmon in an optimal diet. It has 10 times the amount of astaxanthin that farmed salmon does!5 Even so, you’d need to eat six ounces of wild-caught salmon to yield about three milligrams of astaxanthin.6 That’s just a quarter of the amount I recommend for maximum efficacy!
That’s why adding an astaxanthin supplement to your routine is such a good idea. Each dose of my Astaxanthin contains 12mg — the maxim daily dose that’s been found to be both safe and effective.7 Other supplements often contain a mere 4mg, or just one-third the amount in the Astaxanthin available on my store!
Sources of Astaxanthin
Of course, the source of the astaxanthin is just as important as the dosage. Other companies use synthetic astaxanthin which has raised health concerns. Other dietary supplements containing astaxanthin can even be sourced from gut-damaging yeast or, perhaps even worse, from shrimp waste!
My astaxanthin is sourced exclusively from a marine algae called Haematococcus pluvialis. That’s the same source shrimp, lobsters, and salmon get theirs from!
Why My Astaxanthin is Different
Like all the dietary supplements in my store, my Astaxanthin is gluten-free, dairy-free, and non-GMO. Of course, it’s suitable for an autoimmune diet. My potent, bioavailable formula is an excellent choice for supporting healthy immune function by modulating inflammation caused by oxidative stress.
It also works like nothing else in nature to neutralize the free radicals that can lead to cell oxidation. It’s especially great for those who spend time in the sun because of its ability to support the skin’s health in response to UV light.