The benefits of astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is an antioxidant, so it naturally reduces free radicals in the body. But in addition to that, it also significantly reduces the oxidative load in the body by protecting cells from oxidation.

Due to the unique molecular structure of astaxanthin, this red pigment is an extremely powerful antioxidant that is very effective against singlet oxygen. It has a powerful free radical and lipid scavenging ability, and effectively breaks down peroxide chain reactions.

Astaxanthin and health

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The immune system

Astaxanthin has been shown to reduce induced swelling in rats, while vitamin E has no effect. It also helps fight the symptoms of ulcer disease related to Helicobacter pylori. It reduces the symptoms of gastric inflammation and is also associated with an altered response to inflammation.

The antioxidant properties of astaxanthin may explain its role in inflammation.

A number of in vitro and in vivo assays in animal models have shown that astaxanthin significantly influences immune function. In vitro, astaxanthin stimulates antibody production by mouse spleen cells stimulated by sheep red blood cells. This action is at least partly exerted on T cells and, more particularly, on T helper cells. In aged mice, astaxanthin can partially restore the impaired humoral immune response. In vitro studies on human blood cells have shown that astaxanthin stimulates immunoglobulin production in response to T cell-dependent stimuli.

Eye health

There is ample evidence that certain carotenoids may be involved in protecting the retina from oxidative damage. A study on rats shows that astaxanthin effectively attenuates retinal damage while protecting photoreceptors from degeneration.

The results of this study suggest that astaxanthin may be beneficial in the prevention and treatment of neuronal damage associated with age-related macular degeneration.

The photoreceptors of astaxanthin-fed animals were less damaged by UV attack and healed faster than those of non-astaxanthin-fed rats.

Astaxanthin is structurally similar to lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that have been shown to reduce the risk of nuclear cataracts. But, although similar, astaxanthin has greater antioxidant activity and UV protective effect, making it an excellent supplement for maintaining eye health.  It increases retinal capillary blood flow and the rate of blood flow to the eyes while improving depth perception.

Joint health

Astaxanthin has natural anti-inflammatory properties, but unlike prescription painkillers, it does not pose a risk of addiction, heartburn or gastrointestinal ulcers. Specifically, natural forms of astaxanthin block COX2 inflammatory enzymes, while suppressing serum levels of nitric oxide, interleukin 1B, prostaglandin E2, C-reactive protein (CRP) and TNF-alpha (tumor necrosis factor alpha).

A double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study was conducted and showed excellent results with astaxanthin.  Astaxanthin painlessly improved grip strength by 93% in 8 weeks in people with tendonitis.

Heart health

In humans, astaxanthin is carried by VLDL, LDL and HDL. In an in vitro test and a human study, daily ingestion of 3.6 mg of astaxanthin for two consecutive weeks protected LDL cholesterol from in vitro-induced oxidation. In an animal model study, astaxanthin supplementation increased blood levels of HDL cholesterol, the form of blood cholesterol inversely associated with cardiovascular disease.

Astaxanthin could therefore have a beneficial effect on heart health by modifying LDL and HDL cholesterol levels, but also by reducing the inflammation supposedly associated with the development of cardiovascular disease.

Skin health

One of the reasons salmon is red in color is because of the high levels of astaxanthin it contains. Astaxanthin has powerful UV-blocking properties that help protect fish eggs from sun damage.

Taking astaxanthin may also provide similar health benefits to humans. In addition, this antioxidant has been shown to improve skin hydration, elasticity and smoothness, while reducing wrinkles, freckles and pimples.

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Sockeye salmon has some of the highest levels of astaxanthin in nature, except for the purest form of the pigment. This is the reason why the flesh of the fish is bright red.

Astaxanthin is also considered the main reason why salmon have the energy to make their arduous journeys upstream each year. Natural forms of this antioxidant also provide humans with increased strength, while also providing better recovery after exercise.  It promotes rapid recovery after exercise, improves endurance and strength, decreases lactic acid levels, and prevents muscle fatigue as well as joint and muscle pain after exercise.

Astaxanthin's antioxidant properties have also been shown to help improve heart health, cellular health, brain health and the immune system, and protect cells and the nervous system from oxidative damage.

Astaxanthin supplements

The sources of astaxanthin found in nature are not where the highest concentrations of this antioxidant come from, in terms of human consumption. While humans can enjoy the benefits of astaxanthin by including plenty of salmon, seaweed and shellfish in their diet, the highest concentration for humans is found in the form of all-natural astaxanthin supplements, such as those manufactured by Gandalf Astaxanthin in Canada.