Pronounced "asta-ZAN-thin," and found in certain algae, astaxanthin is a food-based nutrient that has been shown in some studies to enhance the whole body. There are two sources of astaxanthin-microalgae and sea creatures who eat the algae (e.g., wild salmon, krill, and shellfish). The carotenoids in astaxanthin are rich in naturally occurring pigments known for their bright pinkish-red hue.
Astaxanthin Does a Body Good
Astaxanthin's varied health benefits are linked by a common, underlying mechanism-inflammation. "Inflammation is the root cause of all major diseases, and astaxanthin is one of Dr. Nature's most powerful anti-inflammatories and natural medicines," says William Sears, MD, who specializes in lifestyle medicine and is the author of Natural Astaxanthin: Hawaii's Supernutrient. A study in California found that, compared to a placebo, Hawaiian astaxanthin reduced chronic inflammation by 20 percent in 8 weeks.
Here are some scientifically supported reasons to take astaxanthin daily:
Astaxanthin is a very strong antioxidant, meaning it helps neutralize harmful free radicals that cause an internal process much like rusting. It manifests as "getting older," whether that means needing a nap despite a good night's rest, or wondering where you put your keys.
People taking astaxanthin have experienced multiple skin benefits, including less sunburn and UV damage (it doesn't replace sunscreen); fewer fine lines and wrinkles; less roughness; and improved moisture and elasticity. Similar skin benefits have been reported with topical use of astaxanthin in creams and serums.
Astaxanthin has been shown to optimize energy producing-components of cells, enabling them to work more efficiently during exercise, even extreme training.
Astaxanthin's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities may help reduce damage during endurance exercise. Athletes also report less soreness after exercise with astaxanthin use.
Astaxanthin helps protect the heart by reducing inflammation and helping to improve the integrity of the lining in blood vessels.
Some research suggests that astaxanthin may help ease pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis, carpal tunnel, tennis elbow, and tendonitis.
Doses of 4 -12 mg daily were shown to improve the ability to see fine detail, as well as ease eye strain, fatigue, dryness, and blurred vision.
Guidelines for Daily Use
Unless you eat wild salmon several times a week and 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, Sears recommends astaxanthin as a daily supplement. Look for astaxanthin from Haematococcus pluvialis algae grown in pure water. "There is scientific evidence that between 4 and 12 milligrams is safe and effective," says Sears, who recommends 12 mg daily for anyone suffering from an inflammatory condition, including those at risk for heart disease. Use 4 mg daily for general health benefits.