A rich, red nutrient called Astaxanthin has become increasingly popular due to its myriad of health benefits. Astaxanthin is naturally found within plants and is part of the family of micronutrients known as carotenoids. It is a powerful antioxidant that can support skin, heart, and brain health.
What is astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin belongs to a group of carotenoids known as xanthophylls, which give plants a yellow color. Astaxanthin is often found within algae and provides the red hues seen in lobster, salmon, and crab. Since astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant, it can support cells that are often damaged by harmful oxygen radicals.
Carotenoids are phytochemicals that give fruits and vegetables their characteristic yellow, green, orange, and red hues and provide various benefits for human health. Carotene, a rich source of vitamin A and the nutrient responsible for giving carrots their orange color, is one of the most well-known carotenoids.
What is astaxanthin used for?
The antioxidant properties of astaxanthin contribute to a wide array of health benefits, including:
- Immune health – Studies have shown that astaxanthin can support a healthy immune system by enhancing the production of antibodies in response to harmful stimuli. On the other end of the immune system, oxygen radicals often damage cells and lead to various cancers. Astaxanthin can promote the elimination of these damaging oxygen radicals.
- Brain health – Oxidative damage can lead to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. By supporting protective mechanisms against oxidative stress, astaxanthin can support healthy brain function.
- Heart health – Low HDL levels and high LDL levels can contribute to heart disease. By combating oxidative stress and regulating nitric oxide levels, astaxanthin can support the optimal balancing of cholesterol levels [1,2]. By reducing stiffness in the arteries, it can also promote blood flow.
- Skin health – Ultraviolet (UV)-induced damage to the skin can cause age spots, wrinkles, and reduced skin elasticity. By promoting the skin’s immune response to damaging factors, such as UV radiation, astaxanthin can support healthy skin.
What are the benefits of astaxanthin?
To give some perspective, vitamins that are known for their antioxidant properties are vitamins A, C, and E. Astaxanthin is over 6000 times stronger than vitamin C, 550 times stronger than vitamin E, and over 800 times stronger than another well-known antioxidant, Coenzyme Q10.
Unfortunately, the human body is not able to form astaxanthin naturally. Therefore, if you would like to benefit from the rich antioxidants within astaxanthin, you must either obtain it from your diet or through supplements. Unfortunately, many people find it challenging to get all the nutrients they’d like via their diet. Therefore, supplements have become a popular way to obtain astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin is a part of the diet for farmed animals, chicken, fish, and shrimp. It gives salmon’s meat its distinctive pink color.
1. Kumar R, Salwe KJ, Kumarappan M. Evaluation of Antioxidant, Hypolipidemic, and Antiatherogenic Property of Lycopene and Astaxanthin in Atherosclerosis-induced Rats. Pharmacognosy Res. 2017;9(2):161-167. doi:10.4103/0974-8490.204654
2. Kishimoto Y, Yoshida H, Kondo K. Potential Anti-Atherosclerotic Properties of Astaxanthin. Mar Drugs. 2016;14(2):35. Published 2016 Feb 5. doi:10.3390/md14020035