What is Astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin is an incredible natural carotenoid found in pink birds like flamingos well as many pink marine animals such as: salmon, trout, shrimp and lobster.
Astaxanthin in Nature
Natural Astaxanthin, like a miracle of nature, emerges to protect animals in the peak of their struggle against harsh environmental conditions, including UV radiation and attack by reactive oxygen species (free radicals). The alga, microalga Haematococcus pluvialis is an organism that can produce the highest amount of astaxanthin. When the alga experiences harsh conditions it creates Astaxanthin whuch acts like a force field that protects the alga’s nuclear DNA and lipids against UV-induced oxidation.
When was Astaxanthin Discovered?
Although the alga Haematococcus pluvialis was discovered in the 18th century, its pigment, Astaxanthin, wasn’t identified until two centuries later in 1944. At the time it was named ‘haematochrom’, and only recently has its potent antioxidant action been appreciated. Today Astaxanthin and its antioxidant properties are being widely researched around the world throwing new light on the many ways that Astaxanthin can contribute to our overall health.
Astaxanthin Works on a Cellular Level
Cell membranes are not only the gates to cells but also to ageing because they balance intercellular communication, facilitate cell nutrition, and protect DNA from damage. Unfortunately, membranes are also the first target of free radicals.
Natural Astaxanthin, with its unique molecular structure, stretches through the bilayer membrane, providing resilient protection against oxidative stress. Astaxanthin can quench free radicals in both the inner and outer layers of the membrane, unlike most antioxidants, which work either in the inner (e.g., vitamin E and beta carotene) or the outer side of the membrane (e.g., vitamin C).
Mitochondria are tiny organelles within the cell that serve as ‘power plants’ because they produce most of the cell’s energy. They are also active generators of free radicals, which are by products of the energy producing process. When mitochondrial membranes are damaged by excessive free radical attack, premature cellular senescence and loss of cellular vitality occur. Research has shown that natural Astaxanthin promotes healthy functioning of the mitochondria because it inhibits oxidation by scavenging free radicals along the membrane structure.
Natural Astaxanthin Enhances Blood Antioxidant Capacity
The level of antioxidant capacity in blood can be considered an indicator for assessing the strength of the body to combat degenerative ageing and premature senescence. In fact, long-term disruption of the blood antioxidant balance is associated with cardiovascular and circulatory system diseases, neurodegenerative conditions, early signs of skin deterioration, and renal failure. Clinical studies have shown that natural Astaxanthin enhances blood antioxidant capacity by preventing depletion of the body’s inner antioxidant defences, such as catalase, glutathione, and superoxide dismutase.
No Pro-Oxidant Activity
Pro-oxidants are chemicals that induce oxidative stress, either by generating reactive oxygen species or by inhibiting antioxidant systems. The oxidative stress produced by these chemicals can seriously damage cells and tissues, for example an overdose of the analgesic paracetamol can fatally damage the liver, partly through its production of reactive oxygen species.
Many antioxidant molecules, including vitamin C, can become pro-oxidants especially when under intense free radical attack due to smoking or intense UV radiation. Several studies have shown that natural astaxanthin safely quenches free radicals without any pro-oxidant activity; therefore, astaxanthin is classified as a pure antioxidant.
Potent Anti-Inflammatory Action
Chronic inflammation is believed to be the silent disease at the heart of most degenerative conditions and lifestyle-related diseases. Natural astaxanthin quenches inflammation by inhibiting nuclear translocation of NF-kB, a major inducer of the inflammatory cascade. Clinical studies have shown that astaxanthin lowers inflammation in the gastrointestinal and vascular systems, as well as in muscles after intense exercise. Emerging studies also show that astaxanthin can reduce inflammation in the eyes, kidneys, and brain.
Reduction of DNA Damage
Free radicals cause DNA damage and mutation, which can lead to premature cell death and cancer. Immune cells in particular are highly exposed and vulnerable to free radicals.
A recent clinical trial measured the effects of natural Astaxanthin on the damage to one of the nucleotide bases (building blocks) of DNA, called guanine. This molecule is degraded by reactive oxygen species in the body to form a substance 8-oxodG in blood plasma. Ingestion of only 2mg of natural Astaxanthin per day for eight weeks showed a significant decrease in the formation of 8-oxodG, indicating that natural Astaxanthin can significantly reduce oxidative DNA damage in humans.
Your Skin’s ‘Natural’ Beauty with Astaxanthin
When wrinkles or skin problems arise, most women reach for cosmetic products, like creams, gels, ointments and makeup. Applying these products to the surface of the skin may temporarily conceal the problem, but their effect is superficial and doesn?t tackle the underlying causes. The skin is an extremely complex organ, consisting of multiple layers that each have unique and important functions. For a product to truly improve the skin’s health and beauty, it must provide protection and support to all layers of the skin.
Our skin is under constant attack from free radicals produced by UV rays, pollution, stress and poor nutrition. The damage caused by free radicals is a major cause of skin ageing and problems such as wrinkles and age spots. This free radical damage affects all layers of the skin, from the visible surface to the delicate deep layers where new skin is formed.
Natural Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant with potent anti-inflammatory effects. Its unique molecular structure allows it to reside in the cell membrane and to protect the inside and outside of cells from free radical attack. Research shows that Astaxanthin taken as an oral supplement is active in each of the skin’s layers, providing protection from UV damage, shrinking wrinkles and making age spots lighter. Natural Astaxanthin can help your reveal your skin’s natural beauty from the inside out.
Performance and Muscle Function
During physical activity, we require energy to move our body. All energy we need is generated by mitochondrial cells, often referred to as the ‘power stations of the cell’, which provide as much as 95% of our body’s pure energy (primarily by the burning of muscle glycogen and fatty acids). Unfortunately, a portion of this energy produces highly reactive and damaging reactive oxygen species (free radicals) which is the one of major factors to deteriorate our body. Free radicals lead the cause of cell damage by peroxidation of the cell membrane components, and oxidation of DNA and proteins.
Regular exercise is widely acknowledged as a good way to stay fit and healthy, providing it continues into later life. But for many people the aches and pains that come with regular exercise are enough to thwart their best intentions. For people of all ages exercising muscles that haven?t been regularly used can take its toll. For example, after a hard day in the garden straightening up and stretching can be an agonising experience, and the next day can be sheer hell.
For the more accomplished and serious athlete, muscle and joint pain is an uncomfortable yet often accepted side effect of heavy training. Without this pain, which leads to a longer recovery time, training could be stepped up, meaning an increase in performance levels. In addition to the constant search for an aid to help reduce this type of pain and discomfort, serious athletes are continuously on the lookout for products to help with their strength and endurance levels. An increase in these levels can mean more efficient training, making the difference between winning and losing.
Natural Astaxanthin has been shown to help ease sore muscles and increase both strength and endurance levels, making it an effective training tool.
We have detailed above just a few of the amazing benefits of Astaxanthin, while other benefits such as improving brain function or eye health we discuss in different blogs. However it is clear that Astaxanthin is an amazing antioxidant which is why we include it in all our supplements. In summery a natural Astaxanthin supplement can:
- improve skin condition
- protect against UV damage
- help protect the body from ill health and disease
- enhance performance in athletes
- improve eye health
- boost brain function