Astaxanthin – Benefits, Properties and Intake

Astaxanthin – Benefits, Properties and Intake

Most of my readers may not have heard about astaxanthin. This is due to the fact that this substance is mainly gaining more followers in the field of parapharmacy and not as an ergogenic support. So I decided to write a little article explaining its properties and its posology.

What is Astaxanthin?

Even though its name sounds exotic, it is very similar to the carotene from carrots. In fact, it is also used as a color additive since it is responsible for the red color of salmon, shrimps or flamingos.

Purchasing astaxanthin is one of the best ways of getting excellent benefits for our health. You can check some of the supplements available in the HSN online store.

Astaxanthin is produced by different types of microalgae, which are the base of the diet from zooplankton and krill. In turn, these are the favorite food of those that store the pigment in their skin and fatty tissue, which is why they are red.

However, astaxanthin is not used as pro-vitamin A, unlike b-carotene which does increase the levels of said vitamin.

Astaxanthin production

Regarding its synthesis, it naturally happens in seaweed, mainly in Haematococcus pluvialis and Chlorella zofingiensis.

The problem that we have is that its demand has increased since the 90s (Roche laboratory). However, we need to look for other sources due to our inability to get what we need from seaweed and the high cost of the synthetic product.

Astaxanthin: The most powerful antioxidant

It is the the most beneficial antioxidant carotenoid from nature.

Nowadays, there are many studies that prove that it is a substance that provides multiple benefits for our health. In fact, it can protect us against the UV rays, our eyes and heart health, as well as improving our sport performance.

Anyone can take astaxanthin dietary supplements since the its proper intake does not produce harmful side effects.

The most prestigious scientists, health professionals and elite athletes all over the world have supported the growing popularity of these supplements.

Astaxanthin is the most powerful antioxidant:

  • 6000 times more powerful than vitamin C
  • 800 times stronger than COQ10
  • 550 times stronger than the catechins from green tea
  • 550 times stronger than vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
  • 75 times more powerful than alpha lipoic acid
  • 40 times stronger than beta-carotene
  • 17 times stronger than grape seed extract OPC

Astaxanthin provides a deep cell protection

Antioxidants are necessary to protects the cells against unstable atoms. Astaxanthin is the most powerful inhibitor of harmful molecules. On the one hand, this carotenoid receives the output energy of free radicals, breaking itself down in the process. However, that is the way it prevents the surrounding cells from being damaged.

Structure of astaxanthin

Unstable atoms damage the cells by taking away an electron to other molecules from the organism. Consequently, these molecules also become a free radical, creating a chain reaction that leads to the collapse of the living cell. Astaxanthin can neutralize them and stop this chain reaction, avoiding its harmful effects.

Astaxanthin esters

It is important to know that the damage caused by unstable molecules increase with age. That is why it is very important to get a proper antioxidant supply as we grow old.

Why is it superior to other antioxidants?

Unlike other antioxidants, it has a long-chain structure and terminal polar groups that can cover the cell membrane with a double layer and protect it against hsn_link tipo=”post” id=”22378″ anchor=”oxidative stress” title=”Oxidative Stress and Training” target=”_blank” ] more efficiently.

Salmon snack

It can neutralize the unstable atoms both in water and other fat soluble environments. This is the main difference between astaxanthin and other antioxidants which can only act inside the cell membrane (vitamin E and beta-carotene) or outside (vitamin C).

It provides exceptional protection to the mitochondria

Research has proven that astaxanthin:

    • Works 1000 times better against lipid peroxidation in the mitochondria than vitamin E
    • Protects the endogenous antioxidants and prevents premature cell deterioration
    • Reduces the damage to the DNA and premature cell death caused by the reactive oxidation of blood plasma oxygen
    • Crosses the blood-retinal barrier in the brain, producing neuroprotective effects and decreasing ocular fatigue
    • Is an effective anti-inflammatory. Several in-vitro and in-vivo studies have shown how astaxanthin suppresses NF kB nuclear translocation and the inflammatory reaction, which is the main cause for many degenerative diseases.

Properties of Astaxanthin

Even though different studies have found out several benefits (that we are going to see now), there is one that has been deeply studied: its antioxidant power.

Antioxidant Capacity

For those who do not know what an antioxidant is, it is a substance that donates electrons to a free radical. Therefore, it manages to prevent it from causing cell damage. However, this is much more complex, since not all the free radicals are harmful. For example, in the case of physical exercise, it improves both the long and short-term response even if it is an stressor.

Unlike most antioxidants, astaxanthin is both in the external and internal area of the plasma membrane. This is a barrier that separates the inside of the cell from the outside, as we can see in the following image:

Plasma membrane

This could be one of the reasons why astaxanthin has more antioxidant power than lycopene or the remaining carotenes1. In fact, it can be between 10-100 times higher2

Apart from its antioxidant effect, astaxanthin enhances other defense mechanism from our body. For instance, it increases the T cell and antibody production that will fight against antigens. Moreover, it also increases the superoxide dismutase (SOD) or glutathione, which are two of the most important molecules when it comes to fighting against toxins.

Anti-inflammatory Capacity

This is one of the most interesting functions of astaxanthin: its anti-inflammatory effect in the eyes and kidneys4. In addition, it also has anti-bacterial properties against strains like H.Pylori. These bacteria live in our gastrointestinal tract naturally, but sometimes, they can produce gastric irritation and even ulcers. This effect is enhanced by acting as an H pump inhibitor, K ATPase, increasing the amount of mucins3.

Said powerful anti-inflammatory effects can help to treat a series of problems or pathologies such as: joint pain, reduce the risk of arthritis, lower the triglyceride levels and blood pressure, as well as protecting the retina.

Astaxanthin and its effect on the heart

Since 1900, cardiovascular diseases are the most common cause of death in the United States (except in 1928, during the Spanish influenza pandemic).

Every 35 seconds, a person dies due to a cardiovascular disease in the USA. Cardiovascular diseases cause more deaths than the following causes of death altogether: cancer, chronic respiratory disease, accidents and diabetes).

If we managed to beat cardiovascular diseases, our life expectancy could increase around 7 years.

Cardiovascular health

It is good for the blood lipids

Fats (lipids) are the main component of plant and animal cells. In fact, they are vital for our body because they provide energy. Astaxanthin has a higher antioxidant effects than other carotenoids regarding blood lipid protection.

The higher the astaxanthin levels, the higher the production of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) and the lower the LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) caused by free radicals.

The LDL or bad cholesterol caused by unstable molecules damages the blood vessels lining, which can trigger arteriosclerosis.

In fact, those adults who took an astaxanthin supplement had a significantly lower LDL oxidation, reducing the risk of atherosclerosis.

It protects the heart

Researchers from the Kuopio University in Finland analyzed the benefits of astaxanthin as a heart protector in a group of healthy non-smokers.

They carried a double blind study, in which half of the men took 8mg of astaxanthin supplements while the other half took a placebo. The researchers measured the values and its effects during the three months.

They concluded that it was very well tolerated by those who took it. Those who took the dietary supplement increased their astaxanthin levels significantly. More importantly, the fatty acid oxidation during its intake dropped significantly.

During another clinical study, several healthy adults took a dose of 0, 6, 12, or 18mg a day for three months.

Regardless of the dose, all those who took astaxanthin reduced their triglyceride levels and increased their HDL, both contributing to heart health. The dose between 12 and 18mg was particularly effective in reducing the triglyceride levels.

Another important aspect of this study was to confirm that taking a dose of 12 and 18mg increases the adiponectin production.

Fat cells are the ones that produce adiponectin, a hormone with many positive effects on the body. For example, it helps insulin to control the blood sugar levels more effectively.

It lowers the blood pressure

Regarding the circulatory system, astaxanthin produces many positive effects.

Other scientists conducted a study on 20 men who either took astaxanthin or a placebo. Those who took astaxanthin experienced a significant increase in the blood flow of the peripheral capillaries.

In addition, astaxanthin has promising properties to contribute to a proper blood pressure.

In a study conducted on 20 healthy women after menopause, they took astaxanthin for eight-weeks. The results stated that taking astaxanthin for eight weeks lowers the systolic blood pressure considerably.

Another study conducted on a group of 127 adults showed how the systolic blood pressure dropped after taking 4mg of astaxanthin daily just for a month.

Astaxanthin: infertility and testosterone

A ten per cent of men in their reproductive stage suffer infertility or the inability to make their partner pregnant after a trying for a year. The spermatozoa are oxygen reactive species that can be damaged by it.

Astaxanthin increases the testosterone

An increase of free radicals can affect many men and reduce their fertility because the sperm is defenseless against these molecules.

In this regard, it can provide a great support. The studies on men have shown that taking astaxanthin supplements can improve the quality and functioning of their sperm.

This is good news for those couples who are trying to have a baby. In fact, astaxanthin increases the chances of spontaneously becoming pregnant even after intrauterine insemination.

A group of 30 infertile men (with their couples) took fertility treatments (intrauterine insemination). Then, they took 16mg of astaxanthin supplement or a placebo daily for three months.

The group that took astaxanthin experienced a significant increase in sperm motility. Moreover, the cases of pregnancy increased in a 55%, while those who took the placebo increased the pregnancy in a 10% only.

Astaxanthin and testosterone

Hormone changes are part of the natural aging process in men. We could say that menopause lasts for a relatively short period of time. However, andropause is a much slower process because the testosterone levels drop every decade once men turn 40.

Low testosterone levels reduce the muscle mass, libido and energy while increasing the risk of suffering depression. But astaxanthin can help to preserve the natural testosterone levels in old men, proved in a study on 42 healthy men who took a combination of astaxanthin and palmetto extract once or twice a day.

Both groups that took a high and low dose respectively increased their testosterone levels just after three days. Therefore, astaxanthin is still effective even in low doses.

Astaxanthin and the immune system

The immune system is extremely sensitive to the damage from the free radicals. The reason is because the cell membranes have a lot of polyunsaturated fatty acids, an important target for the free radicals.

Antioxidants like astaxanthin provide a strong protection against the free radicals, supporting the functioning of the immune system.

There have been many studies carried out with animals and in laboratories to study the effects of astaxanthin on the immune system. However, it was necessary to conduct more in-depth clinical research on human beings.

The first study, conducted by the Washington State University, analyzed the effects of astaxanthin on the immune system. To do so, they divided 42 women in three groups:

    • placebo
    • 2mg astaxanthin
    • 8mg astaxanthin

After eight weeks, the groups who took astaxanthin increased their levels significantly. Consequently, they improved their cell activity, eliminating the viruses that destroy them.

After taking astaxanthin, the T and B cell levels increased, which are essential cells for the immune system. Moreover, the DNA damage was significantly lower in both groups when compared to the placebo group.

Moreover, the inflammation markers (c-reactive protein) were significantly lower in women who took astaxanthin.

When the free radicals cause inflammation, the reactive oxygen molecule leaves the affected area. Therefore, the surrounding tissue is more vulnerable to the damage from the free radicals.

Said reactive oxygen molecules can worsen those health problems related to inflammation.

Astaxanthin for athletes

Astaxanthin and sport

In a groundbreaking 2008 study about astaxanthin, the scientists discovered that it increases the energy of bodybuilders and elite athletes. In fact, it enhanced their sport performance during competitions significantly. The performance improved in a 55% in those who took a daily dose of 4mg for six months.

The 2008 study about astaxanthin conducted by Curt Malmsten and Ake Lignell assessed the effects of astaxanthin on physical performance, reaching the following conclusions:

Forty students participated in this double-blind study. Twenty of them took capsules containing 4mg of astaxanthin and the other 20 took a placebo for six months.

The physical resistance markers studied were strength/resistance when performing standard exercises.

Results of the Study

The researchers tested the basic strength of each student before taking the astaxanthin supplement. Later on, those who took astaxanthin for six months improved their performance when doing push-ups in a 27 and 54.9% more than the group that took the placebo. Moreover, they also improved their ability to execute squats between 49 and 76% more when compared to those who took the placebo.

Taking 4mg of astaxanthin for 6 months increased the performance of the group who took this nutritional supplement. In fact, it was three times higher than the placebo group (P = 0.047).

According to the results, the scientists concluded that astaxanthin improved the strength and endurance. In fact, this was extremely interesting, since there is not an obvious mechanism to explain the improved muscle performance and tolerance to lactic acid.

On the other hand, the physical benefits of astaxanthin cannot be explained due to the increase of muscle mass. Mainly because the individuals did not experience a significant weight gain.

That is why the researchers are starting to believe that astaxanthin protects the cell and mitochondrial membranes against oxidative stress during intense workouts. Therefore, astaxanthin possibly ensures the functioning of the muscle cells.

Benefits of Astaxanthin

  • Anti-diabetes: although it has only been tested on rats. It is true that astaxanthin can improve the response to hyperglycemia (high glucose levels). This would prevent the failure of b cells from the pancreas (cells that release insulin), improving the glucose and insulin levels.
  • Renal protection: it prevent diabetic nephropathy by reducing the oxidative stress of renal cells.
  • Cardiovascular diseases: due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capacity, it can prevent heart attacks. Moreover, some studies have shown how it improves the arterial blood flow. Therefore, it reduces the chances of suffering thrombosis.
  • Better immune response: the number of natural killer cells, B and Y lymphocytes increased after 8 weeks of astaxanthin supplementation.

What is the best dose of astaxanthin?

In general, the experts usually recommend a dose of 4-8 mg daily. This dose is also advised for athletes who undergo intense oxidative stress. Moreover, this dose is also good for those who are exposed to excessive sunlight or ionizing radiation like pilots.

If you want to benefit from astaxanthin, you should start with a high dose for a couple of weeks and reduce it progressively. This is due to the fact that astaxanthin is stored in the body.

Nobody has established the highest dose of astaxanthin that our body can absorb. However, you must remember that astaxanthin is not a drug, rather, it is a vital substance that is part of the food humans have eaten for thousands of years.

Several studies have set its beneficial effect on many health problems by taking between 1.8 mg and 10 mg a day, either at once or distributed in several servings.

Those who suffer osteoarthritis, tendinitis or carpal tunnel syndrome could start taking 12mg a day. However, you should start taking 4mg daily if you just want to benefits from its antioxidant effects or to strengthen your immune system.

Tablet supplements

As we previously mentioned, astaxanthin is also present in krill oil. Depending on the brand, the recommended dose of krill oil moves between 0.04 and 1.2mg per dose.

Does Astaxanthin have side effects?

There have been many studies to assess its safety. None of them managed to find any harmful side effects.

Some information available on the internet claims that taking too much astaxanthin can trigger skin reddening (like carrot juice). However, this has been scientifically disproved by other independent studies.

Taking natural astaxanthin from Haematococcus pluvialis does not have side effects such as:

    • Toxicity
    • Negative interactions with drugs, nutritional supplements nor food
    • Allergic reactions

At least 8 clinical studies with more than 180 individuals assessed features like safety, bioavailability, oxidative stress, inflammation and cardiovascular health. The result: astaxanthin has no side effects whatsoever.

One of the studies assessed its safety on 35 healthy adults between the ages of 35-69. 19 participants randomly took 3 capsules a day, 2mg of astaxanthin with safflower oil while the rest took a placebo. After 8 weeks, the researchers concluded that taking 6mg of astaxanthin from Haematocuccus pluvialis extract a day is completely safe for healthy adults.

According to many studies, those people who took natural astaxanthin from several sources and in different doses did not report side effects.

On the other hand, astaxanthin from Phaffia rhodozyma mutant strains has been tested on pet food. However, its use in humans is very limited and it is absolutely forbidden in many countries. The is not enough information about the effects of this strain to list its possible dangers or side effects.

More research confirms the benefits of astaxanthin

The researchers claim that its benefits for the physical performance coincide with previous scientific studies. There was one conducted with laboratory mice during intensive swimming periods, while other confirmed its benefits for muscle fatigue.

Taking 4mg of astaxanthin daily for 6 months enhances the muscle power in a 55%. This was the main conclusion of the first part of the study. Researchers Lignell and Malmstem confirmed these results even before obtaining the relative tests that astaxanthin improves the athletic performance.

Previous studies about astaxanthin:

Before Malmsten and Lignell performed their trial on endurance, the scientist Sawaki had already tested astaxanthin on the athletic performance.

In this study, he confirmed that astaxanthin improves the sight sight and decreases the muscle fatigue in humans. This was assessed by checking a blood creatine kinase (CK) marker that was significantly lower in athletes who had taken it.

Moreover, taking astaxanthin reduced the blood lactic acid (a tiredness biomarker) in athletes. Therefore, Sawaki concluded that astaxanthin significantly reduces the muscle fatigue in humans.

Reducing muscle fatigue

Experiments on animals carried out by the scientist Aoi proved that astaxanthin reduces the muscle fatigue in mice exposed to a maximum performance.

He also concluded that astaxanthin metabolizes muscle fat during physical exercise. Consequently, it improves the protection of mitochondrial carnitine before the oxidation.

Astaxanthin enhances the sport performance

Benefits of astaxanthin for physical exercise and fitness

Its effects on the sport performance has been measured according to the maximum tension until we reach a constant heartbeat. The workout consisted of climbing 32cm steps, at 25 steps per minute until completion.

Each person carried an oxygen bottle that weighed 17 kg.

We reach constant heart rate if the pulse change per minute is lower than 3. Actually, everyone reached it after six and nine minutes.

The effects of astaxanthin on strength/endurance were measured by the number of squats. But first, the students warmed up for three minutes in a bicycle.

This exercise consisted of bending their knees 90º, with an adjustable chair where the students lifted 42.5kg.

Its effects on strength/endurance were measured for 30 seconds. The students warmed up for 3 minutes on a bicycle, with an individual load according to their body weight.

This test measured the maximum power they could reach in 5 seconds and a break of 60 seconds cycling slowly. This was followed by a maximum speed that lasted another sixty seconds, and they assessed the effects on the last thirty.

Conclusions of the study about astaxanthin

There were some differences between the group that took astaxanthin and the placebo group. For example, weight difference was very significant.

Likewise, there was a difference in the heart rate at rest. The average heart rate dropped 1.31 per minute in the placebo group and 1.75 in the astaxanthin group.

The impact on strength was also significant, as it dropped 5.81 on average in the placebo group and 4.13 in the astaxanthin group.

The main conclusion of this study is that there was a significant and positive change in strength/endurance in the group that took astaxanthin. The placebo group increased the number of squats to 9 after six months (6.28% approx.).

However, the other group increased the number of squats to 27.05 (6.12%) when compared to results before taking astaxanthin supplements. The scientists are convinced of this results due to a p-value of 0.047.

These results were published in the Journal of Carotenoid Science, vol.13,2008 ISSN from 1880 until 5671 21.

Astaxanthin and sight

Macular degeneration is a progressive disease that is related to aging. It mainly affects the central area of the retina, called macula. In fact, it is one of the main causes for blindness.

There is evidence that two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, have a direct impact on this disease.

These are the most important carotenoids responsible for the pigment of the macula. Moreover, they protect the retina against the damage caused by the light, which triggers macular degeneration. These carotenoids protect the eyes even against the damage of the free radicals produced by UV rays.

Surprisingly, the structure of astaxanthin is similar to that of lutein and zeaxanthin. Therefore, it has a more powerful antioxidant effects than these two carotenoids, even on UV ray protection.

Astaxanthin can cross the blood-brain barrier and protect the retina of mammals. The studies conducted on animals have shown that taking an astaxanthin supplement increases the protection of the retina photoreceptors. Consequently, they are less affected by UV rays while recovering faster than animals who did not take astaxanthin.

This protection is partially achieved by avoiding the photoreceptor breakdown in the eye.

Study on Macular Degeneration

A group of Italian researchers performed a very positive clinical trial in human beings to test astaxanthin as a treatment for age-related macular degeneration.

In this study, 27 patients with this disease took 4mg either as a supplement or combined with other supplements that improve the sight such as: vitamin C and E, zinc, copper, lutein and zeaxanthin.

They took this dietary supplement for 12 months. In the end, they proved that its intake does improve the functioning of the central retina.

Astaxanthin improves our sight

Cataracts are another important cause of blindness and sight problems in adults. Those factors that can delay or prevent cataracts could considerably improve their quality of life.

For a long time, nutritionists have recommended to take nutritional supplements to prevent and treat cataracts. Their main purpose is to slow down the effects of the free radicals, which are one of the main triggers for cataracts.

A study carried conducted on athletes (handball players) proved that taking astaxanthin improves the visual acuity, specially in depth perception.

Another study, this time conducted on office employees who stare at a screen all day, concluded that astaxanthin improved their sight significantly.

Astaxanthin helps to improve heartburn

A great number of people suffer from stomach acidity and a bad digestive health in general.

The symptoms of dyspepsia include: indigestion, stomach acidity or stomach discomfort. These are very common and they affect one of every four adults. Most of the symptoms are related to a Helicobacter pylori infection.

The bad functioning of the stomach is usually due to an infection of common bacteria in harmful foods and drinks.

H. pylori originates in the stomach. It is believed that around a 20% of people under 40 and 50% of people over 60 are infected by H. pylori.

This infection increases the production of reactive oxygen species. Therefore, it triggers oxidative stress on the stomach walls and its inflammation.

A pilot study conducted on ten participants with H. pylori infection, showed that taking astaxanthin relieves the symptoms like acid reflux.

This positive result was confirmed with another random double blind controlled trial. In it, 132 adults who suffered dyspepsia took different doses of astaxanthin (16mg or 40mg). There was also another group that took a placebo.

In the end, those who took astaxanthin reduced the symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn significantly, specially on those who were infected with H.pylori.

An additional trial conducted on patients who suffered dyspepsia confirmed the benefits of astaxanthin (40mg per day). It reduced the stomach inflammation in those who were infected by H. pylori.

Natural astaxanthin

There are a few differences between natural and synthetic astaxanthin:

On the one hand, the natural one comes from wild salmon. Then, it is organically biosynthesized in green microalgae (Haematococcus pluvialis).

Most of the studies that have proven its benefits for human health had used natural astaxanthin.

On the other hand, synthetic astaxanthin is used to feed several animals: salmon, crabs, shrimps, chicken and eggs.

Synthetic astaxanthin is not meant for human consumption. It is chemically produced and only intended for animal feeding. For instance, farmed salmon is fed with synthetic astaxanthin to increase the red color of its meat. Otherwise, it would be a pale grey, which is not a very attractive color. Whenever we eat farmed salmon, we are eating synthetic astaxanthin, even if it is not allowed as a nutritional supplement for human beings.

Astaxanthin from Phaffia rhodozyma yeast

Astaxanthin can also be obtained from mutant strains of Phaffia rhodozyma. Although its structure is completely different from natural astaxanthin. The manufacturers use UV light, gamma radiation or chemical mutagens to produce the mutations.

What is esterified astaxanthin?

The astaxanthin that comes from marine animals like krill, shrimps, lobsters and wild salmon, is esterified most of the time. This means that it is combined with one or more fatty acids such as natural astaxanthin from Haematococcus microalgae.

The astaxanthin from Phaffia rhodozyma and the synthetic one are not esterified. Natural astaxanthin is always combined with fatty acids, which produces a esterified astaxanthin molecule.

This one has more stability and a better biological function than non-esterified astaxanthin (synthetic and Phaffia astaxantina) called “free astaxanthin”.

Sources of Astaxanthin

Sources of astaxanthin

Natural astaxanthin is also available in nutritional supplements and some foods and dietary supplements like krill and salmon oils. Some manufacturers add astaxanthin to fish oil to enhance its antioxidant properties.

Astaxanthin in food

This powerful antioxidant is present in:

    • Prawns
    • Crabs
    • Trout
    • Redfish
    • Salmon
    • Caviar
    • Carrots
    • Red pepper
    • Vegetables and red fruit peel

Red salmon Sockeye has the highest astaxanthin content of all salmon species, around 30-58mg/kg.

White salmon has 9-29 mg per kg.

Even the wild salmon that we usually eat has up to 20mg of astaxanthin per kg. However, you would have to eat 165g of salmon every day to get 3.3mg of astaxanthin.

Astaxanthin, the super antioxidant

A prawn turns red when we cook it. This red color is due to its astaxanthin content. This carotenoid is found in salmon, shrimps, crustaceans and prawns with a bright red color.

The growing popularity of this super antioxidant and effective anti-aging supplement has been supported by the most prestigious researchers, health professionals and elite athletes all around the world.

But, why is this molecule the most effective anti-aging element from nature?

Astaxanthin is the most powerful oxygen singlet molecule remover:

    • 6000 times more powerful than vitamin C
    • 800 times more powerful than CoQ10
    • 550 times more powerful than the catechins from green tea
    • 550 times more powerful than vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
    • 75 times more powerful than alpha lipoic acid
    • 40 times more powerful than beta-carotene
    • 17 times more powerful than OPC grape seed extract

Supplement softgels

It has the highest ORAC score

Astaxanthin has the highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity). This method is used to assess the antioxidant power against peroxyl radicals, hydroxyl radicals, peroxynitrite radicals, superoxide radicals and singlet oxygen.

It is a pure antioxidant

Astaxanthin is a pure antioxidant molecule because it does not have pro-oxidant properties when it is subjected to stress or unstable atoms.

Total cell protection

It provides a unique type of cell protection due to its long chain structure and polar groups. It cover the cell membrane with a double layer, protecting the cells against oxidative stress more effectively.

Moreover, astaxanthin can neutralize free radicals of the cell membrane both in water or in lipid soluble environments.

This is the main difference between this ingredient and other antioxidants. Astaxanthin works both inside the cell membrane (like vitamin E and beta-carotene), and outside (like vitamin C).

Astaxanthin, excellent mitochondrial protection

This antioxidant provides an excellent protection for the mitochondria. The researchers have proven that it is 1000 times more effective than vitamin E against lipid peroxidation.

Endogenous antioxidant protection to prevent the premature breakdown

Astaxanthin reduces the damage to the DNA and premature cell death, triggered by the reactive oxidation in the blood plasma. It crosses the blood-brain barrier, producing neuroprotective effects and decreasing ocular fatigue.

It is a great anti-inflammatory. Several in vitro and in vivo studies have proven that it gradually suppresses the NF kB translocation. This is an inflammatory reaction and the main cause of most degenerative diseases.

It has a powerful antioxidant activity

The free radicals are present in environmental in pollution, the smoke of cigarettes, UV light and fat.

However, they are also the result of some necessary processes in the organism such as breathing and the energy production.

If we do not control them, they can end up damaging the healthy cells from the body.

Astaxanthin and aging

Fortunately, the body has a sophisticated system to combat the free radicals. In fact, all living organisms need these systems to combat against the natural oxidation process.

Antioxidants neutralize the most dangerous unstable atoms before they damage proteins, fats and cell genetic material. On the contrary, these factors will contribute to the aging process and trigger many diseases like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, cognitive deterioration and diabetes.

The oxygen singlet is a very reactive oxygen form that could damage lipids, proteins and DNA if it is not stopped by an antioxidant.

It is a carotenoid

Astaxanthin and other carotenoids sacrifice themselves to protect the body cells. Many seaweeds, yeasts and bacillus that produce astaxanthin take advantage of its antioxidant properties to protect themselves against intense sunlight.

Fish and seafood like antarctic krill consume these microorganisms. Consequently, they absorb astaxanthin in their bodies and use to protect themselves against the sunlight and stress.

Those who take astaxanthin will also benefit from an effective antioxidant protection.

Carotenoids like astaxanthin register the energy emitted by the oxygen singlet. In the end, the carotenoid breaks down but it prevents the surrounding cells from being damaged.

It protects against light and stress.

Another way in which astaxanthin and other carotenoids can protect against the free radicals consists of deactivating the chain reaction the free radical production.
Because, sometimes, these free radicals can interact with polyunsaturated fatty acids that are frequently produced by cell membranes.

Thus, astaxanthin is a particularly useful antioxidant to protect the phospholipids from the cell membranes.

What is the oxidation?

The oxidation is a natural process that occurs in every living being and it is indispensable for us to exist.

This process naturally happens in the cells through the enzymes that we eat from food. However, the problem comes when the oxidation causes damage through the unstable atoms.

If this whole process is not stopped, our DNA can be damaged and trigger macular degeneration and even blindness with the passing of time.

In addition, it can also cause aging and carcinogenesis (the process that turns normal cells into cancer cells).

Antioxidants like astaxanthin have a great potential to prevent the free radicals from damaging the DNA. This happens when a cell loses and electron.

These damage is usually caused by the presence of environmental factors such as pollution, radiation, herbicides or smoking.


Both the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of astaxanthin will allow us to treat a wide range of health problems. It is the most powerful antioxidant carotenoid when it comes to dealing with the free radicals. In fact, it is believed that it is even more powerful than vitamin C, beta-carotene and vitamin E.

It has a unique structure and it perform very particular tasks. For example, most antioxidants are spent after transferring their free electrons. However, astaxanthin has a massive surplus, which is why it can remain “active” for longer.

To sum up, even if most of the studies are on mice, there is evidence that astaxanthin can be useful for people with a low immune response or inflammation problems.


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  3. Kamath, B.S.; Srikanta, B.M.; Dharmesh, S.M.; Sarada, R.; Ravishankar, G.A. Ulcer preventive and antioxidative properties of astaxanthin from Haematococcus pluvialis. Eur. J. Pharmacol. 2008, 590, 387–395.
  4. Suzuki, Y.; Ohgami, K.; Shiratori, K.; Jin, X.H.; Llieva, I.; Koyama, Y.; Yazawa, K.; Yoshidia, K.; Kase, S.; Ohno, S. Suppressive effects of astaxanthin against rat endotoxin induced uveitis by inhibiting the NF-kB signaling pathway. Exp. Eye Res. 2006, 82, 275–281.
  5. Uchiyama, K.; Naito, Y.; Hasegawa, G.; Nakamura, N.; Takahashi, J.; Yoshikawa, T. Astaxanthin protects β-cells against glucose toxicity in diabetic db/db mice. Redox Rep. 2002, 7, 290–293.
  6. Kim, Y.J.; Kim, Y.A.; Yokozawa, T. Protection against oxidative stress, inflammation, and apoptosis of high glucose- exposed proximal tubular epithelial cells by astaxanthin. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2009, 57, 8793–8797.
  7. Manabe, E.; Handa, O.; Naito, Y.; Mizushima, K.; Akagiri, S.; Adachi, S.; Takagi, T.; Kokura, S.; Maoka, T.; Yoshikawa, T. Astaxanthin protects mesangial cells from hyperglycemia induced oxidative signaling. J. Cell Biochem. 2008, 103, 1925–1937.
  8. Khan, S.K.; Malinski, T.; Mason, R.P.; Kubant, R.; Jacob, R.F.; Fujioka, K.; Denstaedt, S.J.; King, T.J.; Jackson, H.L.; Hieber, A.D.; et al. Novel astaxanthin prodrug (CDX-085) attenuates thrombosis in a mouse model. Thromb. Res. 2010, 126, 299–305.
  9. Park, J.S.; Chyun, J.H.; Kim, Y.K.; Line, L.L.; Chew, B.P. Astaxanthin decreased oxidative stress and inflammation and enhanced immune response in humans. Nutr. Metab. 2010, 7, 1–10
  10. Spiller, G.A.; Dewell, A. Safety of an astaxanthin rich Haemaotoccu pluvialis algal extract: A randomized clinical trial. J. Med. Food 2003, 6, 51–56.

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Astaxanthin Review

Less joint pain - 92%

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Less tired eyes - 96%

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Better blood pressure - 96%

Better insulin response - 90%

Less colds - 91%


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About Sergio Espinar
Sergio Espinar
Sergio Espinar is a sport nutritionist, specialized in fat loss and health in women. Coach, professor and speaker in the HSN Fitness School.
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