Astaxanthin has been around a long, long time, but it has only recently begun to be recognized as the super-antioxidant that it truly is. It's reddish-colored pigment is produced by microalgae and ingested by several different forms of marine life, including salmon, lobster, shrimp and caviar. This pigment is what gives these aquatic animals, as well as pink flamingos, their characteristic pink colour. Most people don't realize that baby flamingos are actually white and don't turn pink until they receive astaxanthin, primarily from shrimp and algae.
Often regarded as the 'King of Carotenoids' (plant pigments responsible for bright red, yellow, and orange hues in many fruits and vegetables), astaxanthin is 10 to 100 times more powerful than other carotenoids like beta-carotene and lycopene. Furthermore, when it comes to eliminating free radicals, several studies have shown that astaxanthin can be as much as 550 times stronger than vitamin E, 800 times more powerful than CoQ10, 6000 times more potent than vitamin C!
Astaxanthin and Skin Health
As we age, our cells change and can more easily become damaged through oxidation. Our skin elasticity decreases, becomes less supple, and age spots can begin to occur. The skin’s production of oil decreases as well as the moisture content, especially in those with dry skin. As a result, we tend to look tired and not as vibrant as in our younger years. But with astaxanthin, we find this decline is delayed and improved as it protects your cells from oxidation so your cells stay younger and free from damage.
Furthermore, Astaxanthin has powerful UV-blocking properties that help protect the fish eggs from sun-related damage. Astaxanthin is produced only by the microalgae when its water supply dries up, forcing it to protect itself from ultraviolet radiation. It's the algae's survival mechanism—astaxanthin serves as a "force field" to protect the algae from lack of nutrition and/or intense sunlight. As a source of antioxidants and vitamin A, carotenoids are critical to the photosynthetic process and protect a plant or organism from damage by light and oxygen. By consuming plants or organism that naturally contain these pigments, or better still, by supplementing with astaxanthin directly, we gain a similar protective benefit.
Endurance and Excercise Recovery
Astaxanthin is also the reason salmon have the strength and endurance for their arduous upstream voyages each year - their diets are high in this pigment, which concentrates in their muscles and makes them one of the top endurance athletes of the animal kingdom. Exercise is a known producer of free radicals. The greater the body’s ability to quench free radicals, the quicker an athlete can recover from a workout session. Supplementing with natural forms of astaxanthin can provide us with increased strength, while also offering increased recovery from exercise.
Other Astaxanthin benefits include:
- Reduce wrinkles and age spots
- Improve vision
- Increase energy
- Support joint health
- Reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
- Improve focus and ADHD