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Astaxanthin - The Super Antioxidant?

What is Astaxanthin?

Astaxanthin is a powerful but relatively unknown antioxidant that is produced by the microalgae Haematoccous Pluvialis when stressed by sun and dehydration.

It is also found (in lesser amounts) in sea animals that feed off the microalgae. e.g. krill and shrimp. In turn, as part of the food chain, larger sea life such as salmon pick up Astaxanthin as they feed on the shrimp.

The microalgae contains as much as 1,000 times the concentration of natural Astaxanthin that you'll find in salmon.

Read what our naturopath has to say about this powerful antioxidant on our blog.

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Astaxanthin is a Carotenoid…

Carotenoids are naturally occurring pigments produced by plants and some animals and gives them their vibrant colour e.g. lycopene (found in tomatoes) and beta-carotene (found in carrots). These Carotenoids are responsible for a variety of essential biological functions especially in photosynthesis and protection of the plant/organism from oxygen and sun damage.

Astaxanthin itself has an orange/red pigmentation – this is the reason why salmon flesh is pink, crab/lobster and crayfish have red shells and why pink flamingos are pink (as they eat shellfish that feeds off the microalgae).

Why is Astaxanthin considered a Super Antioxidant?

Some studies have shown Astaxanthin removes free radicals faster than any other antioxidant, offering increased protection from damage to organs and tissues.

It is also unique among the many known Carotenoids, as it is the only one found (so far) that can cross the blood-brain barrier. Therefore it has great protective potential for the brain and central nervous system.

Discover how antioxidants help us to age well and discover how to combat free radical damage in your body.

What health benefits could Astaxanthin offer?

Internationally there have been many papers in scientific and medical journals published on the effectiveness of Astaxanthin as an antioxidant and its claimed health benefits. Some of these benefits are:

Prevention of inflammation

Benefitting those with symptoms from osteo or rheumatoid arthritis and joint/muscle pain

Immune boosting capabilities

Studies have shown Astaxanthin is 65 times more potent than Vitamin C

Eye Health

Astaxanthin may offer protective benefits against a number of vision-related problems e.g.
• Macular degeneration
• Diabetic retinopathy
• Glaucoma

Exercise benefits - strength, stamina and recovery

Improving strength, workout performance, stamina and recovery. Astaxanthin could also be effective in reducing lactic acid build up during intense exercise.

Astaxanthin and skin protection…

Plants and organisms produce Carotenoids to protect themselves from sun and environmental damage. Astaxanthin could help protect human skin from over exposure due to sun-induced free radicals.

Some cosmetic manufacturers have even begun to use Astaxanthin as an ingredient in facial creams to provide additional sun protection and help heal damaged skin.

Other claims about Astaxanthin…

  • Reduces wrinkles and age spots, improving moisture levels, elasticity and smoothness.
  • Diabetes – helping to stabilize blood sugar
  • Improving cardiovascular health - reduces C-Reactive Proteins (CRP), reducing triglycerides, and increases beneficial HDL
  • Reproductive health - Improving fertility by increasing sperm strength and sperm count

Natural Astaxanthin and Synthetic Astaxanthin…

Some fisheries around the world use synthetic Astaxanthin (made from petrochemicals) as fish food so that the salmon and shellfish will have a more appealing orange-red or pink colour.

Research consistently demonstrates that Natural Astaxanthin outperforms Synthetic Astaxanthin in all of its antioxidant and biological functions (by 20 times).

The European Commission categorises synthetic Astaxanthin as a ‘food dye’.

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The Naturopathic Team
Ideal Health

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered and is intended to be used for educational and general information purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice or as a means to diagnose, treat, cure or prescribe for any particular condition or disease. You assume all responsibility for the treatment which may be undertaken as a result of the information on this site, or treatment recommended by any other party. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.

If you need help or advice, please email our naturopathic team with your health question.  Please allow 48 hours for a response.

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