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Astaxanthin protects cells both inside and outside, hich makes it the most powerful antioxidant. It contributes to enhance youth and beauty, increases mental and physical performance, protects the heart, relieves joint pain, reduces inflammation, strengthens the immune system, improves eyesight, helps fertility problems and acts as a natural sun protector among many other benefits.
Astaxanthin: The most powerful antioxidant
Astaxanthin is a natural pink or red pigment that belongs to the carotenoid family.
Carotenoids are pigments found in nature in vegetable foods and are known for being very effective antioxidants capable to protect our cells from certain free radical attacks.
Astaxanthin is considered to be the most beneficial carotenoid found in nature.
Nowadays, there are many studies that prove that it’s a substance that provides multiple benefits for overall health and sports performance.
Astaxanthin as a dietary supplement can be taken by anyone as the intake does not cause harmful side effects.
The most powerful antioxidant, because:
- 6000 times more powerful than vitamin C
- 800 times stronger than CoQ10
- 550 times stronger than green tea catechins
- 550 times stronger than vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
- 75 times more powerful than alpha lipoic acid
- 40 times stronger than beta-carotene
- 17 times stronger than grape seed extract OPC
What are free radicals?
Free radicals are very reactive elements that are constantly being produced in our body as the result of a natural process in every organism alive. They only provoke problems if the body doesn’t have antioxidants, which are responsible for controlling these aggressive molecules and avoiding their harmful effects in the organism.
That’s to say, antioxidants deactivate dangerous free radicals before they damage cell proteins, lipids and DNA through oxidation. Oxidative damages can provoke early ageing, enhance cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cognitive deterioration and other maladies.
Astaxanthin and cell protection
Antioxidants are necessary to protect cells from free radicals. Astaxanthin is a carotenoid that gets the energy from free radicals and breaks down, preventing surrounding cells from get damaged.
Free radicals damage body cells taking away one electron from the organism molecules. This makes molecules turn into a free radical, triggering a chain reaction that causes the alive cell to crash. Astaxanthin can neutralize free radicals and stop this whole process, avoiding its damaging effects.
It’s important to know that the damaged caused by free radicals increase over time, reason why it’s very important to provide the body with enough amount of antioxidants when we start getting older.
Why is Astaxanthin superior to other antioxidants?
This happens because its long-chain structure and its polarity, which can coat the double-layer membrane and protect cells from oxidative stress.
Astaxanthin can neutralize cellular membrane free radicals both in water or other lipid soluble environments. This is the great difference between astaxanthin and other antioxidants that only act inside of the cellular membrane (vitamin E and beta-carotene) or outside (vitamin E).
Astaxanthin provides an excellent mitochondrial protection
Research has proven that Astaxanthin:
- Works 1,000 times better than vitamin E against lipidic peroxidation in the mitochondria
- Protects endogenous antioxidants and avoid early cellular deterioration
- Reduces DNA damage and early cell death caused by the reactive oxidation of the blood plasma oxygen
- Crosses the hemato retinal barrier in the brain, producing neuroprotective effects and reducing ocular fatigue
- Is an effective anti-inflammatory. Several in-vitro and in-vivo studies have shown that astaxanthin suppresses NF kB translocation to nucleus and the inflammatory reaction, which is the main cause for many degenerative diseases.
- Protects the skin from UV rays, preventing DNA from damaging skin
- Counteracts skin early ageing and avoids wrinkles
- Fights freckles and skin marks
- Improves short term memory and prevents dementia
- Reduces LDL cholesterol and reduces the risk of suffering atherosclerosis
- Increases HDL and reduces triglycerides
- Improves the immune system
- Protects body cells and reduces cancer risk
- Reduces the harmful effects of high blood sugar levels
- Relieves acid reflux, provoked by Helicobacter pylori
- Improves retinal function and protects eyes from UV rays
- Reduces intensity and duration of the carpal tunnel syndrome
- Increases testosterone levels
- Improves sperm quality and mobility
- Can improve sports performance by 55%
Which is the optimal dose of Astaxanthin?
Experts usually recommend a dose of 4-8 mg a day. This dose is also recommended for athletes under a significant oxidative stress, as well as for people who are exposed to sunlight or ionizing radiation like pilots.
As astaxanthin is accumulated in the body, if you want to enhance its benefits when taking it regularly, it’s recommended to take a higher dose for two weeks and reduce the dose progressively.
Nobody has established a definite maximum dose assimilable by the organism, but you must remember that astaxanthin is not a drug but a vital substance that is part of the food humans have been eating for thousands of years.
Several studies have set its beneficial effect on many health problems by taking between 1.8 mg and 10 mg a day, either at once or divided into several doses throughout the day.
People suffering from osteoarthritis, tendinitis or carpal tunnel syndrome would start taking 12 mg a day. However, if you just want to enhance your antioxidant function or strengthen your immune system, should start taking 4 mg a day.
As we previously mentioned, astaxanthin is also contained in krill oil. Depending on the krill oil brand, the recommended dose between 0.04 and 1.2 mg.
Astaxanthin, what about side effects?
Several studies have been carried out to assess astaxanthin safety and no side effects were shown.
Despite the available information in the internet saying that taking too much astaxanthin can provoke skin reddening (as it happens with carrots). However, this has been scientifically denied by research.
Taking natural astaxanthin from Haematococcus pluvialis does not have side effects:
- No toxicity signs
- No negative interactions with drugs
- No negative interactions with nutritional supplements
- No negative interactions with food
- No allergic reactions
At least 8 clinical studies were carried out with more than 180 individuals to assess astaxanthin in regard of safety, bioavailability, oxidative stress, inflammation and cardiovascular health. The result: no side effects were detected.
One of the studies assessed astaxanthin safety on 35 healthy adults being 35-69 years. Randomly, 19 participants took 3 capsules a day, 2 mg of astaxanthin in safflower oil and the rest of the participants took a placebo. After 8 weeks, researchers concluded that taking 6 mg of astaxanthin a day is totally safe for healthy adults.
It’s been shown that people who took natural astaxanthin from several sources and in different doses did not present side effects.
On the other hand, astaxanthin derived from Phaffia rhodozyma mutant strains has been proven to work in pets feeding, but its use in humans is very limited and it’s prohibited in many countries. The effects of this strain are not known enough to establish its possible dangers or side effects.
Astaxanthin and the heart
Since 1900, cardiovascular diseases are the most common cause of death in the United States (except in 1928 during the spanish influenza pandemic).
Every 35 seconds, a person dies due to cardiovascular reasons in USA. Cardiovascular diseases have causes more deaths than the following four causes of death in conjunction: cancer, chronic respiratory disease, accidents and diabetes).
If cardiovascular diseases were beaten, life expectancy could increase over 7 years.
Astaxanthin is good for blood lipids
Blood fats (lipids) are the main component of plants and animals and are fundamental for our organism as they work as an energy source. Astaxanthin has a greater antioxidant function than carotenoids regarding blood lipid protection.
The higher the astaxanthin levels, the higher the production of HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) and the lower LDL (the bad cholesterol) levels caused by free radicals.
LDL affects the development of atherosclerosis as it damages blood vessels coating.
It’s been proven that adults who took astaxanthin as a nutritional supplements in comparison to those who didn’t, presented significantly lower LDL oxidation, reducing atherosclerosis risks..
Astaxanthin protects the heart
Researchers in Kuopio University in Finland analysed the benefits of astaxanthin as a health protector in a group of healthy non-smoking individuals.
In this study, half of the men took 8 mg of astaxanthin as a nutritional supplements while the other half took a placebo.
Results after three months were assessed. It was concluded that astaxanthin was very well tolerated and its levels in blood increased and fatty acids oxidation was significantly reduced.
During another clinical study, several healthy adults took a dose of 0, 6, 12, or 18 mg a day for three months.
Everyone who took any dose of astaxanthin, experienced a reduction in triglyceride levels and an increase of HDL, both contributing to heart health. The astaxanthin dose of 12 and 18 mg was particularly effective in the reduction of triglyceride levels.
Another important aspect of this study was to confirm that a dose of 12 and 18 mg of astaxanthin increases adiponectin production.
Adiponectin is a hormone secreted by fat cells and has many positive effects on the body, as well as it helps insulin control blood sugar levels more effectively.
Astaxanthin reduces blood pressure
Regarding the circulatory system, astaxanthin is really beneficial.
In a group of 20 men, a study was conducted with subjects that were taking astaxanthin or taking a placebo, demonstrating that those who took it showed a significant increase in blood flow in the peripheral capillaries.
Another area in which astaxanthin offers promising results is that it helps maintain proper blood pressure.
In a study of 20 healthy women after menopause, an eight-week administration of astaxanthin has been found to significantly reduce systolic blood pressure.
Another study of a group of 127 adults showed a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure after taking 4 mg of astaxanthin per day for a period of only one month.
Astaxanthin: infertility and testosterone
One of every 10 men in reproductive age suffers from infertility, unable to reach pregnancy after a year having sexual relationships without protection. Sperms are reactive species that are exposed to oxygen and can be damaged by it.
An increase of free radicals influence can affect many men and reduce fertility because sperm cannot defend from free radicals.
In this regard, astaxanthin can be a great support. Studies on men have shown that taking astaxanthin as a nutritional supplement can improve sperm function and quality.
This is good news for those couples who are trying to have a baby as it’s been proven that astaxanthin increases the possibilities of spontaneous pregnancies even after intrauterine insemination.
A group of 30 infertile men (with their couples) were subjected to fertility treatments (intrauterine insemination). They took 16 mg a day for three months as a nutritional supplement and some others took placebo.
The group who took astaxanthin experienced a significant increase of sperm mobility, and pregnancy by 55%, while those who took a placebo only increased pregnancy by 10%.
Astaxanthin and testosterone
Hormonal changes are part of the natural ageing process in men, but unlike it happens with menopause that last for a “short” period of time, andropause is a much slower and long-lasting process because testosterone levels are gradually reduced over the years once over 40.
Low testosterone levels reduce muscle mass, libido and energy, and increase depression risks, but astaxanthin can help preserve natural testosterone levels in older men. 42 healthy men were subjected to take a combination of astaxanthin and palmetto extract once or twice a day.
Both in the group that was taking a low dose and those taking a high one proved to have risen their testosterone levels, within three days, which proves astaxanthin effectiveness even when the dosage is low.
Astaxanthin and the immune system
The immune system is extremely sensitive to free radical damage because cell membranes contain a high amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids, perfect target for free radicals.
Antioxidants like astaxanthin provide a strong protection against free radicals attacks, obtaining the right immunologic defence.
Despite the numerous studies carried out on animals and in laboratories to investigate the effects of astaxanthin on the immune system, it was concluded that more thorough clinical research was needed.
The first study, carried out by the Washington State University, analysed such immune process with astaxanthin on a group of 42 women divided in 3 groups:
- 2 mg astaxanthin
- 8 mg astaxanthin
After eight weeks taking a daily dosage of astaxanthin, the increase of natural astaxanthin was higher in both groups, thus improving cells activity and removing viruses.
T and B cell levels, which are essential cells for the immune system, also increased after taking astaxanthin, as well as DNA damage was significantly lower in both groups, compared to the placebo group.
Also, inflammation indicators (c-reactive protein) was significantly lower in women who took it.
When inflammation is caused by free radicals, the reactive oxygen molecule leaves the inflamed area, making the surrounding tissue to be more sensitive to free radical damage.
Such reactive oxygen molecules can worsen the health problems associated to inflammation.
Astaxanthin and sport
In a groundbreaking study of astaxanthin in 2008, it was discovered that it increases the energy of elite bodybuilders and athletes, who improved significantly in competition. The performance improved by 55% in those who took a daily dose of only 4 mg for six months.
The astaxanthin study conducted in 2008 by Curt Malmsten and Ake Lignell evaluated the effects of astaxanthin on physical performance, reaching the following conclusions:
Forty students participated in this double-blind study. Twenty students received capsules containing 4 mg of astaxanthin and the other 20 were given a placebo for six months.
The indicators of physical resistance investigated were strength/resistance in the performance of standard exercises.
The basic strength of each student was tested before taking the astaxanthin dietary supplement. The study showed that students who took it for six months increased the performance of their push-ups by 27 and 54.9% more than the group taking a placebo. They also improved their ability to perform squats between 49 and 76% more compared to those who took a placebo.
Taking 4mg of Astaxanthin for a 6 months period. The increase in the performance of the group who took this nutritional supplement was three times greater than the placebo group (P = 0,047).
On the basis of the research, scientists concluded that astaxanthin improves strength and endurance during sports performance. Actually, researchers found this aspect very interesting as there isn’t an obvious mechanism to explain the best muscle performance and a greater lactic acid tolerance.
On the other hand, astaxanthin physical benefits cannot be explained by the increase of muscle mass because the individuals did not experience a significant weight gain.
For this reason, researchers are starting to figure that astaxanthin protects cellular and mitochondrial membranes against the oxidative stress during intensive trainings. Therefore, it’s quite possible that this excellent ingredient ensures muscle cells functionality.
More research supporting Astaxanthin benefits
Researchers indicate that the benefits found in astaxanthin on physical performance coincide with scientific studies carried out with laboratory mouses during intensive swimming periods, as well as another study that confirmed astaxanthin benefits on people with muscle fatigue.
Astaxanthin increases muscle power by 55% by taking 4mg daily for 6 months. This was the main conclusion of the study. Therefore, it can be confirmed that it does increases and improves athletic performance.
Previous studies on Astaxanthin:
Before Malmsten and Lignell carried out their trial on endurance, Sawaki has already tested astaxanthin on athletic performance.
In his research he could confirm that astaxanthin improves eyesight and reduces muscle fatigue in humans. Likewise, fatigue reduction was proven through a blood creatine kinase (CK) indicator that was significantly lower in athletes who had taken it.
In addition, taking astaxanthin reduced blood lactic acid in sportsmen, reason why Sawaki could confirmed that indeed it reduces muscle fatigue in humans.
Muscle fatigue reduction
Experiments on animals carried out by Aoi proved that astaxanthin reduces muscle fatigue in mouses that are exposed to a limited performance.
He could also conclude that astaxanthin metabolises muscle fat during physical exercise, improving mitochondrial carnitine protection before oxidation.
Astaxanthin for sports and fitness
Astaxanthin effects in sports has been measured in relation to the maximum tension to reach a constant heart rate. Training consisted of climbing 32 cm steps, at 25 steps per minute until completion.
Every person was equipped with an oxygen bottle, weighing 17 kg.
A constant heart rate is reached if pulse change per minute is smaller than 3, in fact everyone reached it after 6 - 9 minutes.
Astaxanthin effects on strength/endurance were measured by the number or squats repetitions. Students warmed up for 3 minutes on a static bicycle with a weight load proportional to their individual body weight.
This exercise consisted of blending their knees 90º, adjusted by a chair. Students carried out the training weightlifting 42.5 kg.
Astaxanthin effects on strength/endurance were determined during 30 seconds. The students warmed up during 3 minutes on bycicle, with an individual load calculated according to their body weight.
This test analysed the maximum power in 5 seconds and a break on a slow cycling of 60 seconds, following a maximum speed period of 60 seconds, assessing the last 30 seconds.
Astaxanthin study: conclusions
The groups that had taken astaxanthin showed some differences to the placebo group. Weight difference was very significant.
Likewise, there was a difference in the heart rate among the students who took either astaxanthin or placebo. The average heart rate decreased 1.31 per minute in the placebo group and 1.75 in the astaxanthin group.
This was also reflected in strength, as it decreased 5.81 on average in the placebo group and 4.13 in the astaxanthin one.
The main conclusion of this clinical trial is that there was a significant and positive change in strength/endurance in the student group who took astaxanthin. The placebo group increased the number of squats after six months to 9 (6.28% approx.).
However the other group increased the number of positions to 27,05 (6.12%) compared to the previous results before taking astaxanthin supplements. Researches are convinced of this results as the study has a p-value 0.047.
These results were published in the Journal of Carotenoid Science, vol.13,2008 ISSN 1880 5671 21.
Astaxanthin on eye health
Macular degeneration is a progressive that is related to ageing that affects the central area of the retina, called macula. In fact, this is one of the main causes for blindness.
There are numerous signs that: lutein and zeaxanthin have a direct impact on this disease’s path.
These are the most important carotenoids that influence the macula pigment, protecting the retina from light damage, which causes the macular degeneration. This carotenoids provide protection even from the damage if UV rays free radicals.
Surprisingly, astaxanthin structure is similar to lutein and zeaxanthin, which means that it has an antioxidant activity more powerful than these two carotenoids, even on UV rays protection.
Astaxanthin can cross the blood-brain barrier and protects mammalian’s retina. Studies carried out with animals have shown that taking astaxanthin as a nutritional supplement increases retina photoreceptors protection, they are less affected by UV rays, and recovery is faster than animals who didn’t take astaxanthin.
This protection of the retina is partially reached, avoiding degradation of photoreceptors.
A group of italian researchers carried out a clinical trial very positive in human beings to test astaxanthin as a treatment for macular degeneration.
In this study, 27 patients with this disease took 4 mg as a nutritional supplement or in combination with other ingredients that improve eyesight like vitamin C and E, zinc, copper, lutein and zeaxanthin).
The trial treatment lasted 12 months, finally proving that astaxanthin does improve the central retina.
Cataracts are another important cause of blindness and sight problems in older people. The factors that can delay or prevent cataracts could considerably improve life quality of many elderly people.
Nutrition specialists, for a long time they have advised to take nutritional supplements to prevent and treat cataracts to slow down free radical effects, one of the main reasons for cataracts formation.
A study carried out in athletes (handball players) proved that astaxanthin intake improves visual acuity, specially in depth perception.
Another study, now on office employees who are all day staring at the computer screen, concluded that taking astaxanthin produces a significant improve in eyesight.
Astaxanthin on digestion
A great number of people suffer from stomach acid reflux and poor digestive health in general.
Dyspepsia symptoms (indigestion, abdominal fullness, heartburn, nausea, belching, or upper abdominal pain) are very common and affect one of every four adults. Most of the symptoms are associated to Helicobacter pylori infection.
The bad functioning of the stomach is normally due to the infection of common bacteria in harmful foods and drinks.
H. pylori originates in the stomach. It’s believed that 20% of people under 40 and 50% of people over 60 are infected by H. pylori.
This infection increases the production of reactive species of oxygen, resulting in oxidative stress on the stomach walls and inflammation.
A pilot experiment carried out on 10 participants with H. pylori infection, showed that taking astaxanthin relieves the infection symptoms like acid reflux.
This positive result was confirmed with another randomised double blind controlled trial in which the results of a group of 132 adults infected treated with astaxanthin (16 mg or 40 mg) were compared to a placebo group results.
This concluded in the astaxanthin group significantly reducing acid reflux and heartburn symptoms, as well as stomach inflammation was reduced on the ones who took 40 mg.
An additional trial carried out with patients who suffered from dyspepsia, confirmed the benefits of astaxanthin (40 mg per day) to reduce the inflammation of the stomach in people who had a positive result when tested for H. pylori infection.
There are a few differences between natural and synthetic astaxanthin:
On one hand, natural astaxanthin comes from wild salmon and it’s organically biosynthesised in green microalgae (Haematococcus pluvialis).
Almost every study that proves that astaxanthin provide effective benefits in humans have been carried out with natural astaxanthin.
Synthetic astaxanthin, on the other hand, is used for animal feeding: salmon, crabs, shrimps, chicken and eggs.
It is not intended for human consumption. It’s produced chemically and only intended for animal feeding. Farmed salmon, for instance, is fed with synthetic astaxanthin to provide red colour to the muscle meat of fish, otherwise, they would be pale grey, being not very eye-catching. Whenever we eat farmed salmon, we’re eating synthetic astaxanthin, which is not allowed as a nutritional supplement for human beings.
Phaffia Rhodozyma yeast Astaxanthin
Astaxanthin can be obtained through mutant strains of Phaffia rhodozyma, even though its structure is completely different from natural astaxanthin. Manufacturers use UV light, gamma radiation or chemical mutagens to produce mutations.
What is esterified Astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin that comes from marine animals like krill, shrimps, lobsters and wild salmon, is almost always esterified, which means that it’s combined with one or more fatty acids like it’s the case of natural astaxanthin of Haematococcus microalgae natural astaxanthin.
Phaffia rhodozyma astaxanthin and synthetic are not esterified. Natural astaxanthin is always combined with fatty acids, which produces a esterified astaxanthin molecule.
This one shows a greater stability and a greater biological function than non-esterified astaxanthin (synthetic and Phaffia astaxantina) called “free astaxanthin”.
Natural astaxanthin is also available as a nutritional supplements and contained in some foods and dietary supplements like krill and salmon oils. Some manufacturers add astaxanthin to fish oil to enhance its antioxidant properties.
Astaxanthin in food
It’s a powerful antioxidant found in some foods, such as:
- Red pepper
- Vegetables and red fruit peel
Red salmon Sockeye has the highest amount of astaxanthin of all salmon species, currently known to be 30-58 mg/kg.
White salmon, 9-29 mg por kilogramo. Even wild salmon normally consumed contains astaxanthin up to 20 mg of astaxanthin per kg.
However you should take into account that it’s necessary to eat 165g of salmon everyday to provide the body with 3.3 mg of astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin, the super antioxidant
A prawn turns red when it gets cooked. This red colour is due to astaxanthin.
The growing popularity of astaxanthin as a nutritional supplement and effective anti-ageing has been confirmed by the most prestigious health professionals and professional athletes all over the world.
But, why is this special molecule the most effective anti-ageing ever provided by nature?
Astaxanthin is the most powerful singlet oxygen remover
- 6000 times more powerful than vitamin C
- 800 times more powerful than CoQ10
- 550 times more powerful than green tea catechins
- 550 times more powerful than vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
- 75 times more powerful than alpha lipoic acid
- 40 times more powerful than beta-carotene
- 17 times more powerful than grape seed extract OPC
The highest ORAC value
Astaxanthin has the highest ORAC value. This method is used to measure the antioxidant power against peroxyl radicals, hydroxyl radicals, peroxynitrite radicals, superoxide radicals and singlet oxygen.
A pure antioxidant
Astaxanthin is a pure antioxidant molecule because it does not have pro-oxidant properties when it’s subjected to stressful factors or free radicals.
Cell total protection
This ingredient provides long-term cellular protection as its terminal polar groups cover the double-layer cell membrane, which protects cells against oxidative stress.
Astaxanthin can neutralize free radicals of the cell membrane both in water or in lipid soluble environments.
This is the great difference between this ingredient and other antioxidants, astaxanthin works both inside the cell like vitamin E and beta-carotene, and outside like vitamin C.
Excellent mitochondrial protection
Astaxanthin provides an excellent protection to the mitochondria. Research has proven it to be 1,000 times more effective than vitamin E against lipidic oxidation.
Astaxanthin, an endogenous antioxidant protection against early ageing
Astaxanthin reduces DNA damage and early cell death, provoked by an oxidation in blood plasma. Astaxanthin crosses the hemato-retinal barrier in the brain, which produces neuroprotective effects and reduces ocular fatigue.
It’s a great anti-inflammatory as it gradually suppresses the translocation of NF kB, an inflammatory reaction that is the main cause of most degenerative diseases.
Astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant
Free radicals are found in pollution, cigarettes smoke, UV rays and fat.
They can appear as a subproduct of some necessary processes in the organism like the inspiration of oxygen and food wasting process to produce energy.
Fortunately, the body has a sophisticated system to combat free radicals, which is needed in every organism alive to fight oxidative processes.
Antioxidants help neutralize the most dangerous free radicals before they have the chance to damage proteins, fats and cell genetics because this process enhances ageing and favours the appearance of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, cognitive deterioration and diabetes.
Singlet oxygen, is precisely a very reactive oxygen form that could damage lipids proteins and DNA if astaxanthin or any other antioxidant didn’t take action.
Astaxanthin, a carotenoid
Carotenoids sacrifice themselves to protect body cells. The different algaes, yeasts and bacillus produced by astaxanthin get advantage of its antioxidant properties to protect themselves from intense sunlight.
Fish and seafood like antarctic krill consume this microorganisms, thus absorbing astaxanthin in their bodies and using it for sun and stress protection.
People who take astaxanthin also benefit from a powerful and efficient antioxidant protection.
Carotenoids like astaxanthin register the energy emitted by singlet oxygen, which means the carotenoid breaks down but prevents surrounding cells from damaging.
Protects against light and stress.
People who use astaxanthin also benefit from effective antioxidant protection.
Another way in which astaxanthin and other carotenoids protect against free radicals is by deactivating the chain reaction of the production of free radicals, as sometimes these free radical can interact with polyunsaturated fatty acids from cell membranes.
Thus, astaxanthin is a particularly useful antioxidant to protect the health of phospholipids in cell membranes.
What is oxidation?
Oxidation is a natural process that occurs in every life being and it’s essential to live.
This process is naturally produced in the cells through the enzymes contained in food. The problem comes when oxidation causes damage through free radicals.
If this whole process is not stopped, DNA can be damaged and provoke macular degeneration, which can end up in blindness.
Oxidation is also a cause of aging and carcinogenesis (cancer cells formation).
Antioxidants like astaxanthin contain a powerful potential to neutralise free radicals from damaging DNA, which happens when a cell loses and electron.
This process can be triggered by pollution factors, radiation, weedkillers or smoking.
How do free radicals work?
Free radical activity can be triggered also by eating too many simple sugars.
They are unstable molecules that try to take the electron they’re missing away from other compounds in order to become stable.
The molecule that has been stolen an electron becomes a free radical, which ends up being a chain reaction that can cause cell death. This process increases over time as we get older.
There are at least 8 clinical trials on humans to test astaxanthin safety, bioavailability and beneficial effects to avoid oxidative stress consequences and inflammation, as well as the cardiovascular system protection.
The National Library of Medicine has revealed 139 studies on astaxanthin and humans. Besides lutein and zeaxanthin are usually recommended as the ocular health ideal ingredients, there is a growing number of trials that prove that astaxanthin is much more effective. It’s a carotenoid like beta-carotene, but enhanced and boosted, that protects against the damaging effect of UV rays.
Astaxanthin fights free radicals associated to macular degeneration caused by ageing, crosses the hemato-retinal barrier and focuses its benefits on the retina macula.
Researchers also pondered the possibility of a synergistic reaction between astaxanthin and phospholipids, which could both act in a similar way to astaxanthin on its own.
This combination is expected to have a great influence in cholesterol control to improve cardiovascular health.
In april 2010, a japanese group of researchers found astaxanthin in a clinically controlled environment to significantly increase HDL cholesterol and adiponectin, a protein hormone that regulates many important metabolic processes like fatty acids degradation and blood sugar levels regulation.
Finally, after another clinical trial on 30 middle-aged or older people, researchers could concluded that astaxanthin can even prevent dementia.