What is Astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin, pronounced "asta-zan-thin," comes from a group of naturally occurring chemicals called carotenoids.
It's a natural pigment found in a number of foods such as algae, salmon and lobster. This vibrant pigment is what makes certain types of seafood a red or orange hue.
Compared to its fellow carotenoids, such as beta-carotene or lycopene, astaxanthin had gone relatively under the radar until recently. As more and more studies published results proving its superpower abilities to reduce wrinkles, protect your heart and improve workout endurance (amongst other benefits), this antioxidant is now considered the king of carotenoids.
Where Does Astaxanthin Come From?
Astaxanthin is commonly found in chlorphyta, otherwise known as algae. While it may have a suspicious name, astaxanthin is actually considered one of the most powerful antioxidants out there. Wild Pacific sockeye salmon holds the highest concentration of astaxanthin, but it can also be found in krill, algae, red trout, shrimp, crab, and lobster.
In comparison to other carotenoids, astaxanthin is considered to be up to 40 to 100 times more powerful.1 Foods containing astaxanthin even contain more antioxidants than other well-known superfoods like blueberries.
What Are the Benefits of Astaxanthin?
The benefits of astaxanthin are no joke. Because astaxanthin is an antioxidant, it works in the body by helping to protect cells against free radical damage. It stands out from other antioxidants because it won't become a pro-oxidant, meaning it won't cause harmful oxidation over time. The major health benefits of astaxanthin include:
- Improved appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
- Improved vision and eye health
- Reduced pain and muscle soreness
- Improved digestion
- Lowered cholesterol
- Increased fertility rates in males
- Reduced menopausal symptoms
It May Make Your Skin Flawless
While vitamin C and E are considered key skin-enhancing ingredients in the beauty industry, astaxanthin knocks both out of the park with its potent anti-aging benefits. One study found the daily ingestion of astaxanthin had a significant benefit in protecting skin against sun damage in the form of wrinkles and sagging.2
In addition to its ability to improve skin elasticity, astaxanthin has also been found to increase skin moisture levels in people who regularly digested the antioxidant.3 Astaxanthin's ability to reverse the effects of UV-induced damage and restore moisture levels means your skin will feel like its glowy, youthful self.
One of the most important benefits of astaxanthin is its ability to actually protect the skin against UV damage. Once this antioxidant has had time to accumulate in the skin, it acts as a protective barrier against sun exposure. Research even showed astaxanthin slowed the time it took for UV light to cause sunburn, basically acting as an internal sunscreen.4 While it's always recommended you apply SPF when dealing with sun exposure, astaxanthin will help boost your protection against UV damage.
It May Improve Your Ability to Work Out
Other than its superior ability to improve your skin, astaxanthin can also benefit your exercise routine. Research has found that astaxanthin's ability to reduce oxidative damage can prevent or reduce muscle soreness acquired from working out.5
If you've ever done a great squat session and found it difficult to walk the next day, then astaxanthin might just be your new best friend. If taken daily, the antioxidant will speed up your muscles recovery time, allowing you to bounce back faster after tough strength-training workouts.
It Helps Protect Your Heart
Another key benefit of astaxanthin is its ability to protect against free radical damage, which is a leading cause of disease. For those unfamiliar, free radicals can cause damage when they start to outnumber the health-boosting antioxidants in your body. Your body will then become overwhelmed, unable to regulate the free radicals, and will eventually endure oxidative stress. This is when free radicals alter lipids, proteins, and DNA, which is ultimately the cause of many serious diseases and health risks.
Research shows that astaxanthin's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can reverse or prevent the effects of oxidative stress.6 Because increased oxidative stress and chronic inflammation are two key features of a cardiovascular disease, astaxanthin works to counteract both and, ultimately, prevent disease.7
It Can Boost Your Brain Health
Astaxanthin is also a power player when it comes to brain health. One study found that astaxanthin helped protect the brain from neurological disorders like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.8 As inflammation in the brain is one of the leading causes of neurological diseases, astaxanthin's anti-inflammatory properties are crucial to your brain's health.
In addition to preventing neurodegenerative diseases, astaxanthin can also improve brain function by reducing PLOOH compounds in red blood cells, which are re