The astaxanthin effect: why your health will thank you for it
Astaxanthin (pronounced ‘asta-ZAN-thin’) is a naturally occurring carotenoid that gives salmon its brilliant orange color. It is the strongest antioxidant found to date and is the reason salmon have the strength and endurance to swim up rivers and waterfalls for days at a time. Their diets are high in this pigment, which concentrates in their muscles and makes them one of the 'kings of endurance' of the animal kingdom.
After a famous Japanese study that found astaxanthin to be 550 times stronger than vitamin E at scavenging singlet oxygen, which is one of the worst types of oxidants, scientists became very enthusiastic about it and many studies followed only to prove its flabbergasting qualities as a powerful antioxidant over and over again.
Then another study was done to compare astaxanthin to other types of antioxidants and the results were even more astounding this time. They found that astaxanthin was 6,000 times stronger than vitamin C, 800 times stronger than CoQ10 and 75 times more powerful than alpha lipoic acid in scavenging singlet oxygen.
Wondering What Do We Need Antioxidants for?
Our bodies produce oxidants (singlet oxygen and other types of free radicals) as byproducts of cellular reactions, digestion of foods, breathing and other vital functions. Even exercising results in free radical production and a professional athlete may produce ten times as much free radicals as a sedentary person. Other sources of oxidants that we’re subjected to include tobacco smoke, environmental pollutants, synthetic chemicals, heavy metals, UV light, pesticides and chemicals in processed foods.
The famous antioxidant researcher Lester Packer estimates that each of our cells is attacked by oxidants an average of 10,000X every single day. These oxidants have the potential to damage our DNA, sometimes resulting in mutations that can lead to various diseases, including heart disease and cancer.
The good news is that antioxidants can neutralize these unstable molecules, reducing their risk of damage to prevent the deterioration within our bodies, delay the aging process, and help ward off many diseases.
In the 1990s, research on astaxanthin focused primarily on its role as a singlet oxygen scavenger, so the leading antioxidant and nutritional supplement researcher Dr. Debasis Bagchi, who is highly respected in his field with almost 300 publications and over 12,000 citations by his colleagues, decided to look at astaxanthin from a different angle. The study tested astaxanthin against other well-known antioxidants by measuring their ability to scavenge various other free radicals. The results showed that natural astaxanthin was 14 times stronger than Vitamin E, 21 times stronger than Synthetic Astaxanthin, 54 times stronger than Beta-Carotene and 65 times stronger than Vitamin C.
However, what really sets astaxanthin apart is that, unlike most of the other antioxidants, it has the ability to cross both our blood-brain and blood-retinal barriers to protect our brain from dementia and Alzheimer’s, and our eyes from blue light damage that may result from prolonged exposure to LED lights, computer, mobile and TV screens, as well as UV rays.
Some of the additional characteristics that make astaxanthin superior to other antioxidants include,
- It cannot act as a pro-oxidant, or cause oxidation, like many antioxidants, even at higher doses.
- It can protect both water-soluble and fat-soluble parts of our cells, including our cells’ mitochondria.
- It acts on at least five different inflammation pathways, supporting our body’s already healthy normal inflammatory response.
- It can handle multiple free radicals, sometimes more than 19 at one time, unlike most of the other antioxidants that can typically deal with only one at a time.
How Can Astaxanthin Help You Elevate Your Health1. Supports Healthy Vision
2. Relieves pain and Inflammation
3. Protects skin inside out
4. Improves Brain Health
5. Enhances athletes’ energy, strength, performance and endurance
6. Protects your heart
7. Boosts male fertility
1. Supports Healthy Vision
Astaxanthin is remarkable in protecting the whole retina from oxidation, which may be caused by ROS (reactive oxygen species). However, due to its unique ability to cross the blood eye barrier, astaxanthin is able to deposit onto a specific part in the retina called the macula. The macula's job is to provide support and protection to the cells responsible for vision from the harsh effects of blue light, which is emitted from LED light, and mobile phones, computers and TV screens.
Moreover, studies have shown that astaxanthin supplementation suppressed the abnormal formation of new blood vessels in the eyes of those who suffer from age-related macular degeneration (loss of sight due to aging).
It is worth noting that although astaxanthin works great on its own to protect the eyes, combining it with lutein and zeaxanthin, the only two carotenoids that accumulate in the macula, gives extra support to the eyes. World renowned bio-hacker Dave Asprey said he used astaxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin daily within his protocol to get rid of his reading glasses and restore his vision from 20/80 to 20/15.
In human clinical research, Astaxanthin has demonstrated an ability to:
- Improve visual acuity (the ability to see fine detail)
- Prevent macular degeneration (loss of sight due to aging)
- Help with diabetic retinopathy
- Treat or prevent eye fatigue
- Reduce blurred vision
- Increase accommodation amplitude (the adjustment in the lens that allows it to focus)
- Prevent eye strain
- Reduce eye soreness
- Prevent eye dryness
- Improve depth perception
- Prevent double vision
- Increase blood flow to the retina and to the vascular layer of the eye
- Increase blood flow velocity to the eyes
2. Helps Relieve Both Pain and Inflammation
Inflammation is an important part of the body’s immune response. However, chronic inflammation can contribute to conditions like diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disease and heart disease.
In the first comprehensive study to examine astaxanthin’s ability to act on the immune response, inflammation and oxidative damage in humans, healthy young participants received either 0, 2, or 8 mg of astaxanthin. It was found that a dose of as little as 2 mg per day reduced levels of the inflammation marker CRP by 20% in just eight weeks.
Moreover, astaxanthin dramatically decreased one of the DNA damage biomarkers after only four weeks.
Data collected from patient questionnaires in 2002, which included 247 astaxanthin users showed that over 80% of those who are suffering from back pain and other symptoms related to osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis reported an improvement from astaxanthin supplementation.
3. Protects Skin Inside Out
It’s literally like ingesting your sunscreen, but without all the harmful chemicals!
Did you know that a US patent, US Patent #6,433,025, 2002, for the use of astaxanthin as an internal sunscreen was awarded in 2002? The company that holds this patent sponsored a clinical trial to test if natural astaxanthin can increase the amount of time it takes for UV light to cause sunburn. This trial dosed subjects at 4mg per day and lasted for only two weeks. Yet, at the end of this very short supplementation period, subjects taking astaxanthin showed a statistically significant increase in the amount of time it took to cause erythema (reddening of the skin or sunburn).
Moreover, it was found that when ingested, astaxanthin works on a cellular level to protect the skin against oxidation, inflammation, and damage to the DNA and to the cells’ mitochondria that may result from prolonged exposure to UV rays.
Since DNA damage is commonly considered a root cause of carcinogenesis, researchers theorized that astaxanthin may be useful in preventing the formation of skin cancer. In fact, some very promising pre-clinical studies showed that natural astaxanthin was effective in reducing UV-induced tumor incidence in rats by 96% and 88%, while the synthetic form attained only 66% reduction.
Natural astaxanthin does also have several different benefits for skin quality and beauty. In a landmark clinical trial done in the USA in 2006, 49 middle-aged women were divided into two matched groups based on several factors including their skin type, age and measurement of skin parameters such as moisture levels. The subjects in the treatment group took 4mg of natural astaxanthin per day while the other group took a placebo. The study was conducted over six weeks. Skin parameters were measured at the beginning of the study, in the middle (after three weeks) and at the end of the study (after six weeks).
The study found that as an internal beauty pill, natural astaxanthin fights wrinkles, improves skin elasticity, increases skin moisture levels and reduces visible signs of UV-aging within four to six weeks of use.
4. Improves Brain Health
To date, there are a number of clinical studies that highlight Astaxanthin’s positive effect on brain health and the benefits were found to range from helping protect against and improve symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease to helping with depression and mood issues.
In one study, participants who were amateur athletes with an average age of 42 and training for a half marathon race took 12mg per day of astaxanthin over an eight-week period, while the control group took placebos. Final results showed that overall mood state increased by 11%, depression decreased by 57%, mental fatigue decreased by 36%, confusion decreased by 28%, tension decreased by 20% and anger decreased by 12% among the astaxanthin group.
In another study, the Chinese Academy of Sciences found excellent results in regards to memory improvement in mice fed astaxanthin. They fed mice natural astaxanthin for 30 days and tested them in a water maze with the goal of finding a safe place on an insulated platform. The mice were separated into four different groups: three with different dosage levels of astaxanthin and one as a placebo control. The mice fed astaxanthin at each dosage remembered the location of the safe platform, while the mice given the placebo were more likely to forget the original location.
5. Enhances Athletes’ Energy, Strength, Performance and Endurance
The following are 12 ways natural astaxanthin can help athletes perform better:1, Prevent muscle (physical) fatigue
2. Reduce mental fatigue
3. Improve recovery after exercise
4. Increase strength and power output
5. Improve performance in timed racing events
6. Decrease heart rate during endurance training
7. Reduce joint and muscle soreness after exercise
8. Enhance energy metabolism
9. Improve endurance
10. Reduce lactic acid levels after exercise
11. Help prevent muscle damage and inflammation
12. Reduce exercise-induced free radical production
In a clinical study that was sponsored by Gatorade, one of the leading USA sports' drinks manufacturers, competitive cyclists got 5% faster and increased their power output by 15% on average in just one month at the lowest commonly recommended dose of 4mg per day. Could you imagine what a 5% advantage means in the Olympics?
6. Protects Your Heart
A few years ago, the American Heart Association made headlines by saying that testing C-reactive protein levels (abbreviated as CRP) may be a better indicator of potential heart disease than testing cholesterol levels. This was based on extensive research from prestigious institutions such as Harvard University (Perry, 2006). As stated above, studies have shown that astaxanthin was able to reduce CRP levels, which happens to be a silent marker of inflammation.
A placebo-controlled human clinical study including 61 volunteers with mild hyperlipidemia showed that astaxanthin improved blood lipid profiles at all doses with significantly increased levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and significantly decreased triglyceride levels. Various dosage levels were used in different treatment groups, 6mg, 12mg and 18mg per day, over a 12-week supplementation period.
In another human clinical trial done in Eastern Europe, men with high cholesterol were given 4mg of astaxanthin per day for one month. They showed an average of 24% decrease in triglycerides, 16% decrease in total cholesterol, and 17% decrease in LDL.
7. Boosts Male Fertility
It’s estimated that infertility affects about 15 percent of couples worldwide, with male infertility contributing to up to 50 percent of cases. Promising research has found that astaxanthin benefits male fertility and may help improve sperm quality.
In a study that involved 30 couples that have been trying to conceive for over 12 months, the men were diagnosed as being infertile according to the WHO guidelines while the women showed no signs of infertility. All 30 couples received conventional infertility treatment, again according to the WHO standards. The men in the study were divided into two groups where one group received 16mg per day of natural astaxanthin, while the men in the control group received placebos. While only 11% of the placebo couples got pregnant, 55% of the astaxanthin-treated couples got pregnant in the first three months of the trial.
Safety and Dosage
In over 300 scientific studies using doses ranging from 2mg to 100mg per day, natural Astaxanthin (not synthetically produced astaxanthin from petrochemicals, which has many potential safety concerns) has proven safe for human consumption with no side effects (aside from a rosy glow to the skin when taken in high doses of 50+ mg).
When is the Best Time to Take Astaxanthin
Studies have shown that taking astaxanthin with a meal or directly after a meal increases its absorption by 2.4 times. Astaxanthin’s absorption is optimized when taken with fat.
What is the Best Source of Astaxanthin
Salmon have the highest quantity of astaxanthin in any animal. However, you have to consider the source of the salmon. If it’s wild you’re eating natural astaxanthin, but if it’s farmed salmon there’s about 98% chance you’re eating synthetic astaxanthin, which is derived from petrochemicals. Additionally, you'll need to eat 170 grams of sockeye salmon each day to get the equivalent of 3.6mg of natural astaxanthin.
The other source of naturally occurring astaxanthin is a very unique type of microalgae called Haematococcus Pluvialis. This is how sea creatures like salmon and krill get their red pigmentation – by eating this microalgae.
To save you the hassle, we searched high and low to find one of the best astaxanthin brands on the market and bring it to you.
Our Organic Astaxanthin is certified organic and contains only two ingredients, organic astaxanthin from the marine microalgae H. pluvialis and organic extra virgin olive oil.
It is grown in a European state-of-the-art facility located on a protected national park territory with its own source of mountain spring water.
It is non-GMO, free of pollutants, fertilizers, pesticides and solvents.
Thing to Remember from this Article
- Astaxanthin is the strongest antioxidant found to date
- Astaxanthin is 6,000 times stronger than vitamin C, 800 times stronger than CoQ10 and 75 times more powerful than alpha lipoic acid in scavenging singlet oxygen
- Astaxanthin can help elevate your health through:
1. Supporting Healthy Vision
2. Relieving pain and Inflammation
3. Protecting skin inside out
4. Improving Brain Health
5. Enhancing athletes’ energy, strength, performance and endurance
6. Protecting your heart
7. Boosting male fertility