Astaxanthin has been all over the news, touted as the world’s most powerful antioxidant! Let’s dive a little deeper to learn where it comes from and the benefits we think you should know about.
Astaxanthin is a carotenoid pigment that’s found in microalgae, yeast, and shrimp, among other sea creatures. While marine life is where astaxanthin is most commonly found, it is not restricted to water-based plants and animals. For example, a species of yeast called Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous (also known as Phaffia) also contains relatively high levels of astaxanthin. Like the microalgae form of the pigment, Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous is a producer of astaxanthin; it does not absorb it from other organic sources.
As you’re probably aware, antioxidants are good for you. Astaxanthin’s antioxidant properties provide the main source of the health claims and benefits of the supplement, particularly when used to help treat cancer.
It’s been linked to improved blood flow, and lowering oxidative stress in smokers and overweight people. A comparison study of astaxanthin and other carotenoids showed that it displayed the highest antioxidant activity against free radicals.
Benefits of Antioxidants
Antioxidants come up frequently in discussions about good health and preventing diseases. These powerful substances, which mostly come from the fresh fruits and vegetables we eat, prohibit (and in some cases even prevent), the oxidation of other molecules in the body. The benefits of antioxidants are very important to good health, because if free radicals are left unchallenged, they can cause a wide range of illnesses and chronic diseases. An antioxidant, astaxanthin is said to have many health benefits. It’s been linked to healthier skin, endurance, heart health, joint pain, and may even have a future in cancer treatment.
Antioxidants and Free Radicals
The human body naturally produces free radicals and the antioxidants to counteract their damaging effects. However, in most cases, free radicals far outnumber the naturally occurring antioxidants. In order to maintain the balance, a continual supply of external sources of antioxidants is necessary in order to obtain the maximum benefits of antioxidants. Antioxidants benefit the body by neutralizing and removing the free radicals from the bloodstream.
Astaxanthin can be used topically to promote healthy skin. A 2012 study showed that combining topical and oral doses of astaxanthin can help to smooth wrinkles, make age spots smaller, and help maintain skin moisture. There were positive results in both men and women, but more study is needed to confirm these findings.
There has been a lot of study on how astaxanthin can affect endurance, as well as fatigue levels after exercise. Studies on mice show that it can boost the body’s use of fatty acids, which helps endurance, and prevent muscle and skeletal damage. Astaxanthin may also have a future in the treatment of joint pain, including conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, which affects nearly one in every five Americans, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Researchers are also looking into claims that astaxanthin can benefit heart health. A 2006 study examined astaxanthin’s effects on rats with hypertension (high blood pressure), and results indicated that it may help to improve elastin levels and arterial wall thickness.
Studies continue to mount in favor of supplementing your daily diet with Astaxanthin. Living microalgae provides a highly bioavailabe dose that quickly enters the bloodstream, particularly important for people over 40. Aqua Health Labs produces and sells the only live algae with high levels of Astaxanthin for daily supplementation.
- Aoi, W., et al. (2004, July 5). Astaxanthin Limits Exercise-Induced Skeletal and Cardiac Muscle Damage in Mice. Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, 5(1), 139-144. Retrieved from http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/152308603321223630
- Astaxanthin. (2014, September). Retrieved from http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=160132
- Bloomer, R. J., et al. (2005, August). Astaxanthin supplementation does not attenuate muscle injury following eccentric exercise in resistance-trained men. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 15(4), 401-412. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16286671