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You may have heard of beta-carotene, lycopene, zeaxanthin and lutein, but have you heard of astaxanthin? As one of the most potent carotenoids and antioxidants found in nature, astaxanthin benefits many aspects of health, from diminishing wrinkles to upgrading your workout routine.

This powerful pigment provides certain types of seafood a red-orange hue and has been shown to support healthy vision, promote brain and heart health, and even increase male fertility. Best of all, it’s easy to incorporate in your diet and can be easily found in a wide range of nutritious whole food sources. So let’s examine more about astaxanthin and learn how to get the most astaxanthin benefits you can from your diet.

What Is Astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin is a type of carotenoid, which is a natural pigment found in a variety of foods. In particular, this beneficial pigment lends its vibrant red-orange color to foods like krill, algae, salmon and lobster. It can also be found in supplement form and is also approved for use as a food coloring in animal and fish feed. (1)

Often dubbed the “king of carotenoids,” research shows that astaxanthin is one of the most powerful antioxidants in nature. In fact, its ability to fight free radicals has been shown to be 6,000 times higher than vitamin C, 550 times higher than vitamin E and 40 times higher than beta-carotene. (2)

In the body, its antioxidant properties are believed to help protect against certain types of chronic disease, reverse skin aging and alleviate inflammation. Although studies in humans are limited, current research suggests that astaxanthin benefits brain and heart health, endurance and energy levels, and even fertility.

Astaxanthin Benefits and Uses
Improves Brain Health
Protects Your Heart
Keeps Skin Glowing
Eases Inflammation
Enhances Your Workout
Boosts Male Fertility
Supports Healthy Vision

As an antioxidant, astaxanthin is 10 times stronger than zeaxanthin, lutein and beta-carotene, and 100 times stronger than vitamin E (R, R2).

The structure of astaxanthin allows it to span across cell membranes or stay outside of cell membranes, allowing it to protect cell membranes from both inside and outside the cell ®.

1) Astaxanthin Mitigates Oxidative Effects of Diabetes
Generally, high blood sugar causes high levels of oxidative stress in diabetic patients. Astaxanthin can protect pancreatic β-cells (which produce insulin) from oxidative stress caused by high blood sugar ®.

It is also a good agent in the recovery of lymph cell dysfunctions associated with diabetic rats ®.

It also prevents diabetic nerve disorder by reduction of the oxidative stress and renal cell damage ®.

The carotenoid showed a protective effect on high glucose-induced oxidative stress, inflammation and apoptosis in proximal tubular epithelial cells ®.

Astaxanthin improves insulin sensitivity in rats and mice on high fat and high fructose diets (R, R2).

2) Astaxanthin Reduces Risks of Cardiovascular Disease
Astaxanthin can reduce LDL cholesterol, increase HDL cholesterol and adiponectin, and prevent lipid oxidation in the blood vessels (R, R2, R3, R4).

In a mouse model, astaxanthin delays and reduces blood clotting in the blood vessels, and increases blood flow ®.

3) Astaxanthin Reduces Heart Damage from Heart Attacks
In rats, rabbits, and dogs heart attack models, pre-treatment of the animals with a synthetic astaxanthin reduce the damage on the heart that was caused by the heart attacks in a dose-dependent manner (R, R2, R3).

4) Astaxanthin Helps with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Astaxanthin improves insulin sensitivity, liver inflammation, and reduces fatty liver in mice on a high-fat diet. In addition, astaxanthin helps with fatty liver in humans comparing to placebo ®.

5) Astaxanthin Inhibits Cancer
In rats and mice with chemical-induced oral, bladder, colon, and breast cancers, astaxanthin inhibits tumor formation and growth (R, R2, R3, R4).

Astaxanthin inhibits chemical-induced fibrosarcoma by activating the anti-cancer immune system ®.

In cell cultures, astaxanthin inhibits the growth of colon, fibrosarcoma, breast, and prostate cancer cells and embryonic fibroblasts, with activation of tumor-suppressor genes such as p53 ®.

6) Astaxanthin Modulates the Immune Responses
Combined astaxanthin and fish oil supplementation modulates lymphocyte function in rats ®.

Astaxanthin enhanced antibody production and decreased immune response in older animals after dietary supplementation ®.

Supplementation with 2 mg astaxanthin for 8 weeks enhanced immune response and reduced CRP in young healthy females ®.

7) Astaxanthin Protects the Stomach Lining from H. pylori and Ulcers
Mice pretreated with astaxanthin for 1 hour before ulcer induction had significantly decreased gastric ulcers. These results suggest that astaxanthin has antioxidant properties and exerts a protective effect against ulcer formation in murine models ®.

Cell extracts of Haematococcus and Chlorococcum significantly reduced the number of H. pylori (a bacteria that causes stomach ulcer) and stomach inflammation in H. pylori-infected mice (R, R2).

8) Astaxanthin Protects Against UV Damage
It can prevent skin thickening and reduce collagen reduction against UV-induced skin damage (R, R2).

Astaxanthin protects against UVA-induced skin photoaging such as sagging and wrinkles ®.

9) Astaxanthin Reduces Exercise Fatigue
Antioxidant effects of astaxanthin can significantly delay exhaustion in a forced swimming test in rats ®.

10) Astaxanthin Protects the Mitochondria from Oxidative Stress
Astaxanthin is effective at improving mitochondrial function by protecting the mitochondria from oxidative stress ®.

Dietary astaxanthin improves mitochondrial function in white blood cells of dogs, most likely by alleviating oxidative damage to DNA and proteins ®.
I did not know that, thanks!

Works great as a painkiller too, optimal dosage is 12 mg. I've been taking it and I'm more flexible I think as well.
Astaxanthin, is classified as a Super-antioxidant, which means that it is truly outstanding at preventing and slowing down the damage that free radicals cause to joints. Researchers have found that when the joint fluid is taken from an inflamed arthritic joint, it contains significantly increased levels of toxic free radicals when compared to a normal joint (Mahajan et al., Antioxidants and Arthritis. J Indian Rheumatol Assoc 2004: 12: 139-142, see

Secondly, Astaxanthin has been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory properties. A number of studies have shown that Astaxanthin can inhibit a chemical messenger called nuclear factor kappa beta (Nfkb), which is considered to be the ‘master signal’ for turning on the inflammation process. By suppressing this signal, Astaxanthin can stop the destructive chain reaction causing inflammation and pain. In fact the first thing that people notice after taking Astaxanthin is that their pain is vastly improved. This has been validated by a variety of studies including measuring the C-reactive protein (CRP) a blood biomarker used to measure systemic inflammation – Astaxanthin was able to lower the CRP levels by up to 21%.

These are just a couple of the mechanisms of Astaxanthin and arthritis sufferers find that they help it conquer pain:

a) By preventing free radical damage

b) By reducing inflammation and its associated pain.