Somewhere in the far reaches of my mind I had heard of astaxanthin before but had no idea what it was until recently when I read an excellent article written by Dr. Joseph Mercola. It actually sounded too good to be true. Fortunately I have access to a great library through my school where I can look up peer-reviewed articles. Dr. Mercola says this is one of the few supplements that he would advise everybody to take, and after doing my research I agree. As an antioxidant, astaxanthin is 500 times more potent than vitamin E and 6,000 times more than vitamin C. That alone is astonishing!
Interestingly, astaxanthin has a reddish color and is the component that gives the red color to such things as salmon, the shells of lobster and crab, quail retina’s and flamingo feathers. Maybe interesting is an understatement. Algae makes it, then the creatures consume it. Humans cannot make it; they must get it by consuming foods high in astaxanthin or supplementing with astaxanthin capsules. Just to give you an idea, if you ate 6 ounces of wild caught salmon that would provide about 3 mg of astaxanthin. More about amounts further on.
So, back to proclaiming astaxanthin’s virtues. Besides being a powerful antioxidant, it is wonderful in many other ways. According to Kidd (2011), studies have shown it to be anti-inflammatory. It also boosts mitochondria production. This is important because the mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cells in our bodies. Kidd also stated that one 8 week double blind study done with rheumatoid arthritis subjects indicated that the group reported significant improvement in pain. Other studies have shown that it increases physical endurance and speed, increases fertitility by positively affecting the sperm, that it improves anxiety, lowers triglycerides, and increases HDL cholesterol levels (the good ones!).
Moreover, astaxanthin suppresses tumor growth (Jyonouchi, 2000), and Hawkins (2013) reports that it not only lowers the risk of cancer, but also prevents cancerous cell replication, and metastasis. That is not all. Astaxanthin is anti-aging, rejuvenating “the skin from within”, reducing wrinkles, age spots, and increasing elasticity (Hawkins, 2013). Additionally it balances the immune system by suppressing overactive immune responses that are seen in autoimmune diseases and allergic reactions, as well as stimulating white blood cell production and other helpful immune responses. Hawkins also writes that astaxanthin is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and is able to protect brain tissue. Studies have shown it helps with cognitive function, strokes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease. It can improve eye health, helping macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma. It also has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, lower blood glucose, and protect against the ravages of diabetes by improving the microcirculation.
This well-studied supplement has been shown to be safe and non-toxic even in doses as high as 80-120mg daily. From everything I could gather, a good daily dose would be 4-12mg, perhaps starting at 4 mg and working up to 12mg if you desire. (Update 10/20/14, my naturopathic doctor recently advised me to add astaxanthin to my supplement regimen. I told her I already had been for a few weeks and that now I am taking 8 mg. She informed me that 4 mg is adequate. So I cut back, mostly due to the cost.) It should also be noted that it is best utilized by the body if eaten with a meal with adequate fat content since it is fat-soluble. It is a little pricey to say the least, but if it actually does all that it is proported to do, it looks like a good way to spend that money, getting a real bang for your buck.
Again, it almost seems too good to be true. But I purchased some from Amazon, BioAstin, a couple of weeks ago, and Husband and I are putting it to the test. I read that it may take a few weeks to notice any results, but after that you are free to tell us that we look 20 years younger.
Hawkins, L. (2013). Astaxanthin Provides Broad Spectrum Protection. Life Extension, 19(4), 1-8.
Jyonouchi, H., Sun S.,Iijima, K. & Gross M. D. (2000). Antitumor Activity of Astaxanthin and its Mode of Action. Nutrition & Cancer, 36(1), 59-65.
Kidd, P. (2011). Astaxanthin, Cell Membrane Nutrient with Diverse Clinical Benefits and Anti-Aging Potential. Alternative Medicine Review. 16(4), 355-364.
Mercola, J. (2013). Astaxanthin-Nature’s Most Powerful Antioxidant. (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/02/10/cysewki-discloses-astaxanthin-benefits.aspx