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Online Wellness Community Natural Health and Anti-Aging News
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Astaxanthin

BENEFITS: HEART/IMMUNE/SKIN/EYE/ ANTI-AGING/ ANTI-INFLAMMATORY/ANTI-OXIDANT/BRAIN/MUSCLES

SUMMARY: 

Astaxanthin is the most potent anti-aging anti-oxidant carotenoid yet discovered. It is naturally found in krill oil. Our favorite supplier is Cyanotech in Hawaii. Back in 2006,  4mg of Cyanotech astaxanthin was added to each serving of a high potency wide array pharmaceutical grade daily supplement OWC’s founder co-formulated. This was the first known daily supplement in the world to offer a therapeutic dose level of astaxanthin, and these formulators were the first to add astaxanthin to a topical skin care cream. Astaxanthin provides all kinds of benefits including natural skin protection, brain performance benefits, inflammation control, muscle recovery and increased stamina and endurance. Astaxanthin has been shown to have 100-500 times the antioxidant capacity of Vitamin E, ten times the antioxidant capacity of beta-carotene, and anti-inflammatory properties similar to tumeric/curcumin. Many laboratory studies also indicate astaxanthin is a stronger antioxidant than luteinlycopene and tocotrienols. Current research shows it is beneficial in cardiovascular, immune, anti-inflammatory, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Click here for a summary of astaxanthin research findings.

DISCUSSION:

Astaxanthin, a algae extract, is a fat-soluble, oxygenated pigment called a xanthophyll and a member of the carotenoid family. It may be the most potent carotenoid known and a key nutrient to take regularly for anti-aging benefits. It has a unique molecular structure that gives it powerful antioxidant function.

Astaxanthin has been shown to have many times the antioxidant capacity of Vitamin C, E, and beta-carotene. Astaxanthin is a stronger antioxidant than lutein, lycopene and tocotrienols.

Research shows that due to astaxanthin’s potent antioxidant activity, it is beneficial to and supports:

  • cardiovascular health,
  • immune system strength and response,
  • anti-inflammatory capacity,
  • neuro-degenerative disorder avoidance,
  • cardio0vascular health, and
  • eye health
  • muscle health
  • endurance

Something nearly unique about astaxanthin is its natural sun UV protective characteristics (although research is showing other plants such as some in the fern family have such characteristics – read Dr. Joyal’s article). As a result, since 2008 it has appeared as an ingredient in high end skin care formulations.

A recent study in Korea indicated astaxanthin stimulates proliferation of NSCs (Nueral Stem Cells) suggesting the trend in finding more beneficial effects of this potent algae extract are sure to come. Research has shown it improves cognitive function from attention span to memory.

Evidence is mounting indicating astaxanthin also helps athletic performance, ranging from muscle recovery, to strength gains and endurance.

It has also shown to improve eye health.

Essentially research from around the world confirms 4mg or more per day of astaxanthin, in a relatively short period of time, measurably strengthen cells throughout the body, protecting them from oxidative and inflammatory stress and enhancing their functional performance. Increasing recommended use for all manner of maladies should be anticipated. Fortunately there seems little risk of toxic affect of continued use of even 8mg daily. More research is however indicated for 8mg to 12 mg dose levels taken by some performance athletes and others as there may be some safe assimilation issues yet discovered at continued use at these levels.

Here is an excerpt published November 23, 2010 by Dr. Mercola:

“Astaxanthin is in a League of its Own

There are many properties that make this carotenoid special. Here are the main differences:

  • Astaxanthin is by far the most powerful carotenoid antioxidant when it comes to free radical scavenging: it is 65 times more powerful than vitamin C, 54 times more powerful than beta-carotene, and 14 times more powerful than vitamin E.
  • Astaxanthin is far more effective than other carotenoids at “singlet oxygen quenching,” which is a particular type of oxidation. The damaging effects of sunlight and various organic materials are caused by this less-stable form of oxygen. Astaxanthin is 550 times more powerful than vitamin E and 11 times more powerful than beta-carotene at neutralizing this singlet oxygen.
  • Astaxanthin crosses the blood-brain barrier AND the blood-retinal barrier (beta carotene and lycopene do not), which has huge implications for the health of your eyes.
  • It is soluble in lipids, so it incorporates into cell membranes.
  • It is a potent UVB absorber.
  • It reduces DNA damage.
  • It is a very powerful natural anti-inflammatory.
  • No adverse reactions have been found for people taking astaxanthin.
  • It is virtually impossible to obtain the recommended daily amount of astaxanthin from diet alone because there are only two prime sources: microalgae and sea creatures that consume the algae (such as salmon, shellfish, and krill).”

On May 25, 2011 Dr. Mercola’s team expanded on there accolades for astaxanthin, first used in a daily serving pack of the most advanced supplement ever manufactured at the time (2007), Cellular Essentials, a product formulated by two of OWC’s founders.

(excerpt from Dr, Mercola’s team on May 25, 2011):

“Astaxanthin is in a League of Its Own

Astaxanthin is produced only by the microalgae Haematoccous pluvialis 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.

It is this “radiation shield” that underlies how astaxanthin can help protect you from similar radiation.

Many carotenoids are easily obtainable through a good diet rich in fresh organic produce. However, this powerful carotenoid is harder to come by. There are only two main sources of astaxanthin—the microalgae that produce it, and the sea creatures that consume the algae (such as salmon, shellfish, and krill).

Astaxanthin is the reason salmon have the strength and endurance to swim up rivers and waterfalls for days on end—their diets are high in this pigment, which concentrates in their muscles and makes them one of the “kings of endurance” of the animal kingdom.

This pigment is the most commonly occurring red carotenoid in marine and aquatic animals and is what gives salmon and pink flamingos their characteristic pink color.  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.

Astaxanthin is leaps and bounds more powerful than beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol, lycopene and lutein, other members of its chemical family. It exhibits VERY STRONG free radical scavenging activity and protects your cells, organs and body tissues from oxidative damage.

Astaxanthin’s unique “antioxidative artillery” provides for an impressive array of health benefits, including improving cardiovascular health, stabilizing blood sugar, boosting your immune system, fighting cancer, reducing inflammation, improving eye health—and even improving your athletic abilities.

What Makes Astaxanthin Special?

There are many properties that make this carotenoid unique. Here are the main differences:

  • Astaxanthin is by far the most powerful carotenoid antioxidant when it comes to free radical scavenging: astaxanthin is 65 times more powerful than vitamin C, 54 times more powerful than beta-carotene, and 14 times more powerful than vitamin E.
  • Astaxanthin is far more effective than other carotenoids at “singlet oxygen quenching,” which is a particular type of oxidation. The damaging effects of sunlight and various organic materials are caused by this less-stable form of oxygen. Astaxanthin is 550 times more powerful than vitamin E and 11 times more powerful than beta-carotene at neutralizing singlet oxygen.
  • Astaxanthin crosses the blood-brain barrier AND the blood-retinal barrier (beta carotene and lycopene do not), which brings antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection to your eyes, brain and central nervous system and reduces your risk for cataracts, macular degeneration, blindness, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Astaxanthin is soluble in lipids, so it incorporates into cell membranes.
  • It’s a potent UVB absorber and reduces DNA damage.
  • It’s a powerful natural anti-inflammatory.

And how about some more great news?  There have been no adverse reactions found for people taking astaxanthin.

Sunburn is Inflammation

If you are physically active, you have probably spent a fair amount of time in the sun. The sun offers enormous benefits to you in terms ofvitamin D. But too much of a good thing can be—well, too much of a good thing.

Many athletes complain of feeling ill from overexposure to the sun after long trainings outside. However,  many report astaxanthin has allowed them to stay in the sun for longer periods of time, without feeling ill and without burning. Less burning also means lower skin cancer risk.

How does it do this?

The answer lies in how the Haematoccous pluvialis protects itself from intense ultraviolet radiation by producing astaxanthin as a natural sunscreen. When you consume this pigment, you are creating your own “internal sunscreen.” In other words, the same powerful antioxidants that protect the algae from the sun’s rays can help protect YOU as well.

Sunburn is actually an inflammatory process. Although the exact pathway by which astaxanthin protects your skin from burning is not yet known, it is almost certain that its anti-inflammatory properties are involved.

Dr. Nicholas Perricone and Dr. Robert Childs, a physician in Hawaii, are both fans of astaxanthin.

Dr. Childs, born and raised in Honolulu, was always extremely sensitive to the sun, until he started taking astaxanthin. He now finds he can go out in the midday Hawaiian sun for four hours without burning, whereas he used to burn within a half hour. He also discovered that, within a few weeks of starting astaxanthin, his morning stiffness and soreness had disappeared.

Astaxanthin as an Internal Sunscreen

Besides copious testimonials and anecdotal evidence, scientific studies have substantiated these skin protective effects.

Cyanotech Corporation funded a study through an independent consumer research laboratory to measure the skin’s resistance to both UVA and UVB light, before and after astaxanthin supplementation.

The result was that in only three weeks of taking 4mg per day, subjects showed a significant increase in the amount of time necessary for UV radiation to redden their skin.

Animal studies lend further evidence to astaxanthin’s effects as an internal sunscreen.

Consider the following:

  • In 1995, hairless mice were fed various combinations of astaxanthin, beta-carotene and retinol for four months. After irradiation, astaxanthin alone or in combination with retinol was substantially effective in preventing photoaging of the skin (as measured by markers for skin damage). [Savoure, N., Briand, G., Amory-Touz, M., Combre, A., Maudet, M. (1995). "Vitamin A status and metabolism of cutaneous polyamines in the hairless mouse after UV irradiation: action of beta-carotene and astaxanthin." International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research. 65(2):79-86.]
  • In a 1998 study with rats, astaxanthin was found to be 100 times stronger than beta-carotene and 1000 times stronger than lutein in preventing UVA light-induced oxidative stress.
  • The Journal of Dermatological Science published a study in 2002 finding astaxanthin is able to protect against alterations in human DNA induced by UVA light exposure.

A Topical Paradise: Help in Preventing Collagen Damage, Wrinkles, Freckles and Age Spots

But astaxanthin might not even need to be ingested in order to protect you from the sun. In 2001, Arakane performed a study on hairless mice to explore whether or not astaxanthin offered topical benefits.

The mice were exposed to UVB radiation for 18 weeks to simulate photo-aged skin. The mice that had astaxanthin applied to their skin demonstrated reduced wrinkles when compared to the control group, as well as younger-appearing collagen. In fact, the collagen of the astaxanthin mice looked as if it had never been exposed to radiation.

Researchers concluded that astaxanthin “can significantly prevent UV-induced collagen degradation, wrinkles, lipid peroxidation, sunburn, phototoxicity and photoallergy.”

The same study also discovered that topical astaxanthin can act as an effective “skin whitening agent,” which is a tremendously popular trend in Asia. Astaxanthin was found to reduce melanin by 40 percent, greatly reducing freckles and age spots.

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