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NUTRITION - Astaxanthin

From younger-looking skin to possibly preventing a heart attack,

check out astaxanthin


Astaxanthin is one of the carotenoids, and is found in microalgae, fungi, complex plants, seafood, flamingos and quail. It’s what gives salmon, shrimp, and lobster the distinctive reddish color.


Studies of effects of astaxanthin in humans

There are several types of astaxanthin, but the most common used in dietary supplements is Haematococcus pluvia. Some studies were run using generally healthy humans and among the findings were a reduction of LDL oxidation, safety demonstrated through blood pressure and biochemistry, reduced levels of fatty acids, improved central retinal dysfunction in age related macular degeneration, and others. “No significant side effects have been reported so far in published human studies in which astaxanthin was administered to humans.” The report also states that astaxanthin “warrants consideration for testing in human clinical trials” and “astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant.”


Some of the claimed benefits of astaxanthin are:


Fatigue

The U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, publishes reports on research they have done. There are many available on the use of astaxanthin, but one dated February 28, 2018 titled, “Effects of Dietary Supplementation of Astaxanthin and Sesamin on Daily Fatigue” states that recovery from mental fatigue was “significantly improved” with the use of astaxanthin. It went on to say that astaxanthin “may be a candidate to promote recovery from mental fatigue which is experienced by many healthy people.”


Neurodegenerative Diseases (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc.)

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences website says:

Neurodegenerative diseases affect millions of people worldwide, and Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are the most common types. More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and at least 500,000 Americans live with Parkinson's disease, although some estimates are much higher.


Other neurodegenerative diseases are Huntington’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), motor neuron disease, and schizophrenia. All take terrible tolls on victims’ lives. PubMed’s report, “Astaxanthin protects against kainic acid-induced seizures and pathological consequences” dated February 20, 2018 indicates there may be hope for some so afflicted. That research investigated “the neuroprotective effects of astaxanthin on kainic acid (KA)-induced excitotoxicity in rats and the possible underlying intracellular signaling pathway. . . . These results suggested that astaxanthin can attenuate seizures, mitigate inflammation, augment survival signals, and prevent hippocampal neuronal damage in the animal model of KA-induced excitotoxicity.” (Emphasis added.)


Granted this is only in the research stage, but if you know someone who has been diagnosed with one of the neurodegenerative diseases, you might tell them to ask their doctor about astaxanthin.


Also the article in the April 2015 issue of Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, titled “The treatment combination of vitamins E and C and astaxanthin prevents high-fat diet induced memory deficits in rats.” tells us that a bad diet, particularly one high in fat, can be responsible for poor mental capabilities. The researchers believe that antioxidants can counter those effects. Their research showed that the combination of vitamins C and E and astaxanthin improves mental capabilities.


Antioxidant

An article in Shop Chemistry Applied, Chemistry Department of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan (Pracownia Chemii Stosowanej, Wydział Chemii Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu) discussed carotenoids as natural antioxidents. The following is copied from the article’s Abstract.

Human organisms have many defence mechanisms able to neutralise the harmful effects of the reactive species of oxygen. Antioxidants play an important role in reducing the oxidative damage to the human organism. Carotenoids are among the strongest antioxidants. . . . The carotenoids of the strongest antioxidant properties are lycopene, lutein, astaxanthin and β-carotene. Carotenoids with strong antioxidant properties have found wide application in medical, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. These compounds are highly active against both reactive oxygen species and free radicals. Comparing β-carotene, astaxanthin and lycopene with other antioxidants (e.g. vitamin C and E), it can be concluded that these compounds have higher antioxidant activity, e.g. against singlet oxygen. Astaxanthin is a stronger antioxidant compared to β-carotene, vitamin E and vitamin C, respectively 54, 14 and 65 times. Carotenoids have a salutary effect on our body, making it more resistant and strong to fight chronic diseases.


A PubMed report carried in in the Journal of Food Science and Technology (2018 Mar) identified the potential use of astaxanthin as follows:

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

Astaxanthin is a lipid-soluble pigment and has antioxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory properties and beneficial effects on cardiovascular diseases. (Emphasis added.)


Infertility

A PubMed report dated May 4, 2017 stated “Astaxanthinin, combined with vitamin E, vitamin C, and calorie restriction, was able to ameliorate, in part, infertility in male rats.”


Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)

A not-too-well-known disease, known as NASH, with resistance to insulin has been investigated to see if astaxanthin could help. The PubMed report “Astaxanthin prevents and reverses diet-induced insulin resistance and steatohepatitis in mice: A comparison with vitamin E.” came to the conclusion that “Astaxanthin reversed insulin resistance, as well as hepatic inflammation and fibrosis, in pre-existing NASH. Overall, astaxanthin was more effective at both preventing and treating NASH compared with vitamin E in mice. Furthermore, astaxanthin improved hepatic steatosis and tended to ameliorate the progression of NASH in biopsy-proven human subjects. These results suggest that astaxanthin might be a novel and promising treatment for NASH.” (Emphasis added.)


Cosmetic benefits

There is a PubMed report that gives results of two human clinical studies on various skin conditions. One involved thirty healthy females over a period of eight weeks. They took 6 mg of astaxanthin each day orally, and 2 ml (in solution) used as a topical application on their skin. It says there were “significant improvements.” (Emphasis mine.) What benefits did the Haematococcus pluvia from microalgae provide? Check out this list for results at Week 8:


And by only Week 4, the skin texture of the cheek was improved. The evaluation states (rather understates in my opinion) “It may suggest that astaxanthin derived from H. pluvialis can improve skin condition in all layers such as corneocyte layer, epidermis, basal layer and dermis by combining oral supplementation and topical treatment.”


There was another study using thirty-six males subjects that ran for six weeks. Just as with the skin of females, crow’s feet wrinkles, skin elasticity and the skin’s moisture content “showed strong tendencies for improvement.”


Cardiovascular benefits

While the list of potential advantages of taking astaxanthin is impressive, the U.S. National Library of Medicine has a 2011 report on the use of this substance for cardiovascular disease. They have found no adverse effects, but astaxanthin was effective in fighting free radicals. We humans can’t manufacture carotenoids, and so we have to get them from other sources if we want their benefits. The report states “. . . dietary supplementation with astaxanthin has the potential to provide antioxidant protection of cells and from atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease [49].”


Laboratory studies showed a significant reduction in blood pressure after 14-days of oral astaxanthin administration in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). They also tested it on stroke-prone SHR and found after five weeks of receiving astaxanthin those rats had much lower blood pressure.


Diabetes studies

In studies using mice, it was found that astaxanthin reduced blood glucose. Diabetes is often associated with kidney and liver diseases.


Everything I read indicates that you want to get natural astaxanthin rather than the synthetic variety. One website, supremebiotech.com, stated that “natural astaxanthin possesses 20 times greater antioxidant capacity than its synthetic counterpart.” A manufacturer of astaxanthin products, AstaPure, says that “Studies have shown astaxanthin to be over 500 times

stronger than vitamin E,” and the Nutrex Hawaiian Astaxanthin web page claims its product is:



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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links on the pages of this website are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”