What do you need to know about astaxanthin
Astaxanthin, an excellent antioxidant, is a naturally occurring carotenoid pigment. It is able to protect against these free radicals, thus ensuring many health functions. Focus on this great carotenoid!
What is astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin is a member of the family of xanthophyll carotenoids. It is the main carotenoid found in algae and aquatic animals.
Its reddish colour helps to give these marine animals and plants their intense colour. The European Commission considers natural astaxanthin as a food colouring agent.
Astaxanthin is much more potent than other carotenoids. In addition, it does not turn into a pro-oxidant in the body, as is the case with many other antioxidants. Indeed, in high doses, an antioxidant can become pro-oxidant and give the opposite effect to that desired.
Astaxanthin and health
In addition to its colouring power, this carotenoid pigment also has several benefits for human health.
One of its major properties is its antioxidant power, which far exceeds that of beta-carotene or even alpha-tocopherol. Indeed, astaxanthin can act as a free radical scavenger in the body. It thus protects the cells against oxidative damage and helps to slow down the process of cell senescence.
Studies in animal cell cultures have shown that astaxanthin can:
- protect the skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays
- improve age-related macular degeneration
- protect against chemically induced cancers
- strengthen the immune system
Astaxanthin – Where to find it naturally?
Synthetic astaxanthin dominates the global market, but recent interest in natural sources of pigments has increased considerably.
The most common natural source is the algae Hematococcus pluvialis, on which krill, crustaceans, salmon and flamingos (hence their colour) feed. It is a green microalgae that accumulates a high content of astaxanthin under stressful conditions such as high salinity, nitrogen deficiency, high temperatures and light. Astaxanthin produced from H. pluvialis is a major source of human consumption.
It is also found in red yeast Phaffia rhodozyma, as well as in shellfish by-products.
How to supplement with astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin is a fat-soluble compound. Thus, if you consume it with dietary food oils, you increase its absorption.
According to documented studies, combined with fish oil, it promotes the plasma effects of hypolipidemia / hypocholesterolemia.
Its phagocytic activity of neutrophils is also more active than when you consume astaxanthin or fish oil alone.
In what form should astaxanthin be consumed?
It has an unusual antioxidant property that has caused a surge in the nutraceutical market and encapsulated products. This has led to significant efforts to improve its production from organic rather than synthetic sources.
Astaxanthin products are currently available on the market in different forms: capsule, soft gel, tablet, powder, biomass, cream, energy drink, oil or extract.
According to the experts at santescience it is better to avoid astaxanthin powder, microencapsulated in capsules or tablets and opt for the oily form, more stable and more easily absorbed by the body.
However, they do not recommend vegetable soft capsules, which are generally made of carrageenan, a highly controversial substance for health.
Astaxanthin can also be combined with other carotenoids, multi-vitamins, plant extracts or omega-3,6 fatty acids.
Precautions for use and side effects
To date, no adverse side effects of astaxanthin supplementation have been reported in humans.
In 2010, the US Food and Drug Administration even granted the status “generally recognized as safe (GRAS)” to the astaxanthin extract of H. pluvialis.
The only reported contraindication concerns people allergic to crustaceans.
They should check whether the active ingredient comes from crustaceans, as traces of them can be found accordingly in the preparation.
Humans and other mammals cannot synthesize astaxanthin. Thus, unlike other carotenoids, it must be ingested through diet or supplementation.
The recommended dose is 2 to 4 mg / day. In addition, a study showed that no adverse effects were observed when administered at a dose of 6 mg / day in adult men.