May Never Have Heard of
Many people have never heard of Astaxanthin,
which is unfortunate. This extremely safe substance has a host of probable health benefits along with an excellent
safety profile. I’ll discuss some of these benefits here to help you decide if this is a supplement that you want
to add to your program. Let’s begin with what Astaxanthin is, where it comes from and what it does.
Astaxanthin is a member of a group of compounds named carotenoids, compounds that usually led
an orange or reddish color to foods they are in. For example, carotenoids give carrots their characteristic
color. They also, by the way, are why pink flamingos are pink.
While many carotenoids occur in plants, astaxanthin naturally
occurs most abundantly in microalgae, crustaceans, and some fish.
Carotenoids are excellent anti oxidants and astaxanthin is no
exception. In fact, it’s one of the most powerful antioxidants in this category. But its beneficial actions don’t
Astaxanthin moderates the inflammatory response, boosts the
immune system, and appears to protect DNA from damage. These effects have many mechanisms that researchers are
currently exploring. They translate into several real-world benefits benefits we should take advantage of
Astaxanthin lowers blood sugar levels and improves
sensitivity to insulin. It also raises levels of HDL while reducing triglyceride levels. These effects suggest it
could help both metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes.
Animal studies show that astaxanthin reduces the rate of
colon and breast cancer in several animal models. The probable mechanism is by preventing free radical damage to
DNA and reducing the levels of circulating inflammatory mediators.
Human studies demonstrate that astaxanthin does indeed reduce
DNA damage while at the same time boosting immune performance. For example, it increases the activity of natural
killer cells, cells which play a role in protecting the body from cancer.
Astaxanthin doesn't only prevent disease. It also significant
improves healthy exercise performance. It reduces the stressful effects of strenuous exercise and also helps the
muscle cells more effectively use fat as an energy source. The end result is improved endurance and exercise
Some of the most important benefits of astaxanthin are its
effects on eye health. It protects against ultraviolet damage which helps reduce the risk of cataract development.
It's antioxidant effects help protect the retina, reducing the risk of macular degeneration, one of the more common
causes of loss of vision.
That same UV protection seems to apply to the skin.
Astaxanthin accumulates in skin cells and appears to reduce their sensitivity to ultraviolet induced damage. It
also appears reduced the activity of enzymes that ultimately lead to wrinkles.
Perhaps best of all, no side effects have been reported
associated with astaxanthin, even at relatively high doses.
All in all, I think it's worth considering supplementing with
astaxanthin. A reasonable dose for most purposes is 4 to 10 mg per day. Someone struggling with metabolic syndrome
could try more, perhaps up to 20 mg per day.
Again, it appears to be a safe supplement. Even doses as high
as 40 mg had not been associated with any side effects.
If you're interested, here are just a few of the recent
research studies looking at astaxanthin:
Chew BP, Park JS. Carotenoid action on the
immune response. J Nutr. 2004 Jan;134(1):257S-61S.
Suganuma K, Nakajima H, Ohtsuki M, Imokawa G.
Astaxanthin attenuates the UVA-induced up-regulation of matrix-metalloproteinase-1 and skin fibroblast elastase in
human dermal fibroblasts. J Dermatol Sci. 2010 May;58(2):136-42.
Hussein G, Sankawa U, Goto H, Matsumoto K,
Watanabe H. Astaxanthin, a carotenoid with potential in human health and nutrition. J Nat Prod. 2006
Higuera-Ciapara I, Felix-Valenzuela L,
Goycoolea FM. Astaxanthin: a review of its chemistry and applications. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr.
Park JS, Chyun JH, Kim YK, Line LL, Chew BP.
Astaxanthin decreased oxidative stress and inflammation and enhanced immune response in humans. Nutr Metab (Lond).
Aoi W, Naito Y, Sakuma K, et al. Astaxanthin
limits exercise-induced skeletal and cardiac muscle damage in mice. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2003
Ikeuchi M, Koyama T, Takahashi J, Yazawa K.
Effects of astaxanthin supplementation on exercise-induced fatigue in mice. Biol Pharm Bull. 2006
Aoi W, Naito Y, Takanami Y, et al. Astaxanthin
improves muscle lipid metabolism in exercise via inhibitory effect of oxidative CPT I modification. Biochem Biophys
Res Commun. 2008 Feb 22;366(4):892-7.
Yuan JP, Peng J, Yin K, Wang JH. Potential
health-promoting effects of astaxanthin: a high-value carotenoid mostly from microalgae. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2011
Nakajima Y, Inokuchi Y, Shimazawa M, Otsubo K,
Ishibashi T, Hara H. Astaxanthin, a dietary carotenoid, protects retinal cells against oxidative stress in-vitro
and in mice in-vivo. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2008 Oct;60(10):1365-74.
Suzuki Y, Ohgami K, Shiratori K, et al.
Suppressive effects of astaxanthin against rat endotoxin-induced uveitis by inhibiting the NF-kappaB signaling
pathway. Exp Eye Res. 2006 Feb;82(2):275-81.
Izumi-Nagai K, Nagai N, Ohgami K, et al.
Inhibition of choroidal neovascularization with an anti-inflammatory carotenoid astaxanthin. Invest Ophthalmol Vis
Sci. 2008 Apr;49(4):1679-85.
Parisi V, Tedeschi M, Gallinaro G, Varano M,
Saviano S, Piermarocchi S. Carotenoids and antioxidants in age-related maculopathy italian study: multifocal
electroretinogram modifications after 1 year. Ophthalmology. 2008 Feb;115(2):324-33.
Cort A, Ozturk N, Akpinar D, et al.
Suppressive effect of astaxanthin on retinal injury induced by elevated intraocular pressure. Regul Toxicol
Pharmacol. 2010 Oct;58(1):121-30.