What is Astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin is an increasingly popular carotenoid which belongs to the subclass of xanthophyll. It occurs naturally in certain algae and runs the color gamut from red to pink. Some astaxanthin can also be found in specific seafood types.
In fact, it is what causes the reddish color in lobster, salmon, fish eggs, trout, crabs, and other seafood. This substance is also what is responsible for the pinkish color in the features of flamingo.
Astaxanthin is often referred to as ‘the king of carotenoids’ because of its reputation as one of the most powerful antioxidants found in nature.
The substance is of particular significance because it never converts to become a pro-oxidant. This means that it can never bring destructive oxidation in the body, making it perfect for health-related benefits and performance.
How Does Astaxanthin Work?
Your body cannot produce astaxanthin on its own, which means you have to get it through food or dietary supplements. Those who prefer astaxanthin-rich foods should consume plenty of salmon, shrimp, lobster, rainbow trout, and other seafood.
Seafood, however, might not be a plausible way to get significant amount of astaxanthin. The richest seafood source – sockeye salmon, for instance, has only 4.5mg of the compound per every ounce. That’s not enough to spur the desired health benefits.
That’s why most people go for dietary supplements. Those based on Pluvialis algae have the highest bioavailable amount of astaxanthin. 3 percent of its biomass is pure astaxanthin. In fact, it is the only supplement has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a safe and viable source of dietary astaxanthin.
So, how does astaxanthin actually work? It’s pretty simple and straightforward: it’s an antioxidant.
* Astaxanthin is 550 times more effective as an antioxidant than vitamin E
* Astaxanthin is nearly 6,000 times stronger than vitamin C, one of the most important vitamins when it comes to boosting the immune system
* It’s also 550 times richer as a source of antioxidants than green tea or other Catechins.
Health Benefits of Astaxanthin
Cancer treatment. Owing to its antioxidant properties, a growing number of studies have shown that astaxanthin may help treat several cancers, most notably breast cancer, prostate cancer, and leukemia. Further research is still needed, though.
Skin care and UV protection. A handful of studies have revealed that the antioxidant can slow down the photoaging process and prevent UV-induced cancer damage.
Ulcers. Astaxanthin help control ulcer-causing bacteria, H. pylori. By doing so, it allows ulcer wounds to heal faster and prevent a recurrence.
Heart disease prevention. Astaxanthin plays a role in reducing high cholesterol, increasing blood flow, and relaxing blood vessels. The combination of the three positive effects results in a healthy heart.
On a similar note, astaxanthin helps with heart damage repair. It prevents unwanted changes to the endothelium, protecting the walls and arteries in the heart. It also allows damaged heart cells to regenerate.
It helps curb oxidative stress in the brain. This plays an important role in treating and managing brain-related and neurodegenerative disorders including traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Treating male infertility. Increased sperm oxidative stress has been associated with low fertility or infertility in men. As an antioxidant, astaxanthin helps nib this in the bud.
Helps with exercise-related fatigue. Astaxanthin encourages the body to take advantage of its own supply of fatty lipids, which improves exercise endurance, stamina, and muscle fatigue during and after exercising.
Reduces high cholesterol. Its action on oxidative stress in the blood can help reduce high blood pressure, improve heart health, prevent diabetes, and decrease the risk of brain damage from stroke.
It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. Astaxanthin has been found to possess plenty of anti-inflammatory properties.
This may come in handy as a treatment option for conditions and diseases that involve inflammation, including bacterial inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis, several types of cancer, and carpal tunnel syndrome, just to mention a few.
Carotenoids have a colorful and fascinating history, having been researched since the early 1800s. Astaxanthin belongs to the Xanthophylls subgroup of carotenoids, with the famous carotenes like lycopene, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene being the other subclass.
Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant, which is the overarching property behind its several health benefits. What that means is that it naturally reduces oxidation, a biological process that helps keep many health issues and conditions at bay.