You know about the big-name antioxidants: CoenzymeQ10, vitamin C, green tea, resveratrol—just to name a few.
But there’s another antioxidant that beats out all the others.
It’s called astaxanthin.
If it sounds familiar, that’s because it made a huge splash in the supplement industry a few years ago. And for good reason.
Astaxanthin is a carotenoid pigment responsible for giving salmon and shrimp their pinkish hue. But unlike many other flash-in-the-pan supplement trends, there’s been a tremendous amount of research on astaxanthin. And it’s all overwhelmingly positive.
But let’s start with the proverbial feather in astaxanthin’s cap.
In 2007, a team of Japanese researchers tested astaxanthin head-to-head against some of the most common—and most powerful—antioxidants. And as it turned out, astaxanthin trumped them all. The researchers determined it’s:
- 550 times stronger than green tea (EGCG)
- 800 times stronger than CoQ10.
- 3,000 times stronger than red wine (resveratrol)…and
- 6,000 times stronger than vitamin C (yes, you read that right—6,000)
These researchers singled astaxanthin out among all the antioxidants and concluded that it “obviously plays an important role in promoting quality of life to prevent diseases and maintain a healthy life.”
That’s putting it mildly…
Slam the brakes on the No. 1 cause of vision loss
I’m not even sure which of astaxanthin’s benefits to start with, because there are so many. But I’ll begin with a big one: eye health.
Astaxanthin is unusually good for the eyes because it’s one of the few supplements that actually reach the retina, making it helpful for everything from eyestrain to retinopathy… even macular degeneration. That last one is especially important because age-related macular degeneration is the No. 1 cause of vision loss in people over 50. Experts at the national eye institute estimate the number of people affected will hit 3 million by 2020. And, as I reported recently in my Reality Health Check e-letter, age-related macular degeneration is showing up much earlier than ever before—in patients as young as 35.2
But a number of studies have noted how well astaxanthin improves blood flow to the retina, alleviates eyestrain, and more.
Triple your energy and endurance
Another reason I love astaxanthin is its ability to boost energy and endurance. In one study, researchers divided 40 healthy volunteers into two groups. The first group got 4 mg of astaxanthin per day. The second group got a placebo. The researchers measured several factors associated with exercise endurance at the outset of the study and then again after six months.3
At the end of the study, the placebo group was able to do 9 more knee bends than they could do at the beginning (from 46 to 55). But after six-months, the astaxanthin group was able to do 27 more knee bends (from 49.32 to 76.37).
In other words, the astaxanthin group’s endurance was a whopping three times higher than the placebo group’s.
Now, I know you’re probably not doing 50 squats at a time. But if astaxanthin can help improve THAT level of exercise, imagine how it can help boost your energy and ability to do light regular activity—like that evening walk I’m always begging you to take.
Squelch arthritis pain and sidestep sunburn
Astaxanthin also has significant anti-inflammatory properties, which make it perfect for combatting pain.
In fact, a study published back in 2003 showed that astaxanthin is extremely effective in suppressing the inflammatory agents that drive osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and other forms of acute pain.4 And it helps squelch inflammation without the dangerous side effects of COX-2 inhibitor or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NAIDs).
And speaking of combatting pain…astaxanthin also reduces UV damage caused by the sun.5 It functions as a sort of “internal sunscreen”—but without all the chemicals you’ll find in most regular sunscreens. Even better: astaxanthin protects you from UV damage without actually blocking the UV rays your body needs to produce vitamin D.
And last but certainly not least, astaxanthin also helps you maintain healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
In one study in Korea, 27 overweight or obese adults were randomly assigned into two groups that were given astaxanthin or placebo caplets for 12 weeks.6 The researchers measured the participants’ total cholesterol, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, apolipoprotein A1 (ApoA1), and apolipoprotein B (ApoB) at the outset of the study and again after 12 weeks. (For a refresher on these various lipids, refer back to the article X in the November issue.)
The researchers found LDL cholesterol and ApoB were significantly lower after 12 weeks of treatment with astaxanthin. The placebo group, on the other hand, didn’t experience any changes in their lipid levels.
Powerful protection at the cellular level
How, exactly, does astaxanthin accomplish all this? Well, it has the unique ability to get into every part of a cell. Plus, it makes its way into every cell of the body.
So astaxanthin quite literally improves the health of every system in your body at the cellular level.
You can get astaxanthin from salmon and shrimp (it’s actually the carotenoid pigment that gives them both their pinkish hue). But unless you’re eating seafood every day, you should also consider taking an astaxanthin supplement. They’re widely available online and in natural food and vitamin stores.
And it doesn’t take much to notice a difference. Just 4 mg per day is enough to get all of the benefits this remarkable nutrient has to offer.
1. “Quenching Activities of Common Hydrophilic and Lipophilic Antioxidants against Singlet Oxygen Using Chemiluminescence Detection System.” Carotenoid Science 2007; 11:16-20
2. “Prevalence of age-related macular degeneration in a large European cohort: Results from the population-based Gutenberg Health Study.” Graefe’s Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology 2014; 252(9):1,403-1,411
3. “Dietary Supplementation with Astaxanthin-Rich Algal Meal Improves Strength Endurance. A Double Blind Placebo Controlled Study on Male Students.” Carotenoid Science 2008; 13: 20-22
4. “Astaxanthin inhibits nitric oxide production and inflammatory gene expression by suppressing I(kappa)B kinase-dependent NF-kappaB activation.” Mol Cells. 2003;16(1):97-105.
5. “Astaxanthin, canthaxanthin and beta-carotene differently affect UVA-induced oxidative damage and expression of oxidative stress- responsive enzymes.” Exp Dermatol 2009;18(3):222-31.
6. “Positive effects of astaxanthin on lipid profiles and oxidative stress in overweight subjects.”Plant Foods Hum Nutr 2011; 66(4): 363-369.