What is astaxanthin?

Astaxanthin is a powerful natural carotenoid pigment found in certain plants and marine animals such as wild sockeye salmon, lobster, shrimp, and crab, which consume large amounts of natural algae-based sources of astaxanthin. Often referred to as the "King of Carotenoids", astaxanthin is recognized as one of the most powerful antioxidants found in nature, capable of protecting our body's cells from free radical attack. It is particularly important because unlike other types of antioxidants, astaxanthin never becomes a pro-oxidant in the body and therefore can never cause harmful oxidation.

It is similar to chlorophyll, found in green plants and vegetables, and beta-carotene, found in orange plants and vegetables. Plants and animals with intense red coloring tend to be very rich in astaxanthin, which is itself the most potent carotenoid in the world.

Where is astaxanthin found in nature?

In addition, this unique nutrient plays an important role in strengthening the body.

For example, scientists have proven that the high concentration of astaxanthin in the body of wild salmon explains its extraordinary resistance and strength.

The molecule plays a protective role for its lipid tissues against peroxidation, an oxidative stress that can damage them.

Additional sources of Astaxanthin

Although astaxanthin is most commonly found in marine life, it is not limited to aquatic plants and animals. For example, a species of yeast called Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous (also known as Phaffia) also contains relatively high levels of astaxanthin. Like the microalgal form of the pigment, Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous is a producer of astaxanthin; it does not absorb it from other organic sources.

Natural vs synthetic astaxanthin

Interestingly, in some cases, commercial fisheries add synthetic astaxanthin to the diet of their fish to make them look like fish caught in the wild. This synthetic astaxanthin is produced from petrochemicals - the same stuff you put in your car. It is chemically completely different from natural astaxanthin and has been shown to be 20 to 50 times less effective as an antioxidant than its natural cousin and is potentially dangerous. Synthetic astaxanthin is produced in a laboratory.

In addition, astaxanthin from a genetically mutated yeast known as Phaffia has not been subjected to sufficient safety standards and is therefore not approved by the U.S. FDA for human consumption above 2 mg per day and is not recommended for long-term use or for children.

Astaxanthin from microalgae is the only form of astaxanthin for which hundreds of medical research experiments have shown health benefits, as well as extensive safety testing and fifteen years of safe use in humans.

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