Astaxanthin is a substance you might have heard of recently. It’s an orange-pink pigment found in trout, yeast, shrimp, salmon, lobster, as well as in vegetables such as carrots, squash, and tomatoes. There is a lot to this pigment compound; It has a plethora of health benefits many of which are provided from its powerful antioxidant properties.
Below we discuss several well researched health benefits of astaxanthin and how you can easily add it to your diet.
Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow the damage to your cells caused by unstable molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are naturally created through your body’s normal processes, though an increase in stress and exposure to pollutants can lead to an increase in free radicals. Free radicals damage cells and are believed to play an important role in age related ailments (cardiovascular issues, skin health, brain health, and immune health). Your body produces antioxidant enzymes, though an increase in external antioxidants, such as astaxanthin, can go a long way to keeping free radicals at bay and improving your wellness outlook.
In two conditions where oxidative stress is high, smoking and overweight, Astaxanthin supplementation has been associated with better blood flow and lower oxidative stress. Compared to other carotenoids such as lycopene and β-carotene, astaxanthin demonstrates the highest antioxidant activity against free radicals.
Free radicals can gather in your skin, which may lead to blemishes, inflammation, age spots, wrinkles, and dryness. Your skin’s condition is a good indication of your overall health. Unhealthy skin can be an indicator that there are some underlying health concerns you need to take care of.
Astaxanthin as a topical ointment, lotion, or cream, can promote healthy skin from the outside while consuming astaxanthin will also provide skin health benefits from the inside. Combining topical and oral doses of astaxanthin may help your body reduce the size of age spots, maintain skin moisture, and smooth out wrinkles, according to a study in 2012. Both men and women benefit from this regimen.
Photoaging occurs as we get older from long-term exposure to UV rays. Photoaging can be accelerated though excess sun exposure leading to wrinkles and blemishes due to the degradation of collagen. Astaxanthin, can help protect your skin from this kind of damage.
Studies have shown astaxanthin can improve your muscles’ endurance during exercise. Research suggests that astaxanthin boosts your body’s utilization of fatty acids (beta oxidation) as an energy source, reducing the breakdown of muscle.
Another study suggests that a functional workout routine combined with astaxanthin can improve mobility, muscle strength, and endurance. A little exercise seems to go a long way with the simple addition of this nutritional powerhouse!
Researchers are currently looking into astaxanthin’s role in heart health. Recent studies have shown this antioxidant can improve blood pressure and cholesterol balance, decrease oxidation of lipids, and lower oxidative stress on the heart and in the blood.
Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. Having a healthy lifestyle is the main contributing factor to good heart health, and a diet filled with astaxanthin can help.
Astaxanthin may slow down the brain’s aging by increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels. One study showed better task performance and an improvement in working memory when astaxanthin was part of a person’s diet.
Cognitive decline is a major worry for elderly people, and the effects of cognitive decline may start earlier in life without any symptoms. A diet with astaxanthin may be able to help your brain stay younger as you age.
Best Ways to Get More Astaxanthin in Your Diet
Concentrated forms of astaxanthin come in supplements which are typically derived from an algae extract of the species H. pluvialis. While astaxanthin can be found in salmon, shellfish etc., H. pluvialis is considered the most abundant and bioavailable form of astaxanthin.
Supplement formulas vary based on the product. Many are in gel caps with 6-10 milligram of astaxanthin combined with other antioxidants such as pomegranate.
Salmon, shrimp, crabs, and crawfish are other good sources of astaxanthin. However, you need to be careful with mercury levels when consuming fish. Sockeye salmon have the lowest amount of mercury in them because of their diet and they can only be caught in the wild. Look for sockeye salmon in your grocer’s freezer or at seafood shops and health food stores.
Yeast is another source of astaxanthin, that is often found in over-the-counter supplements.
While you can find sources of astaxanthin in your food, in this case supplements can be a healthier option, because the best supplements have the impurities removed and consist of much higher concentration.