Many are familiar with the antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E, and coenzyme Q10, but have you ever heard of astaxanthin? Although astaxanthin (pronounced asta-zan-thin) was first produced in supplement form in the early 1990s, many people are still unaware of this super antioxidant and its long list of benefits. Astaxanthin has been found to support eye health, improve cardiovascular fitness, promote immune efficiency, reduce inflammation, and support skin health by reducing wrinkles and age spots. Additionally, many studies have found that astaxanthin, as an antioxidant, is 6,000 times more potent that vitamin C, 550 times more powerful than vitamin E and 800 times more powerful than coenzyme Q10!
So what is the source of this amazing antioxidant? It is extracted from the green algae, Haematococcus pluvialis. With its red hue, astaxanthin helps protect the algae against UV radiation. Small amounts are consumed in seafood such as salmon, shrimp, lobster and trout, however, it can be a challenge to get enough astaxanthin from food sources alone. Therefore, the best way to get the most benefit from this super nutrient is through supplementation.
Here are a few highlights of how supplementing with astaxanthin can be beneficial:
1. Supports eye health - Cataracts form in the lens of the eye from progressive free radical damage over time. As an antioxidant, astaxanthin neutralizes these free radicals so that they cannot damage delicate eye tissue. Research has also shown that astaxanthin is helpful in preventing diabetic retinopathy.
2. Protects brain tissue - Astaxanthin is able to cross the blood brain barrier and is therefore able to provide anti-inflammatory protection to the brain. Supplementing with astaxanthin reduces adverse age-related changes to the key memory processing center of the brain. It is therefore believed to have a therapeutic benefit against the cognitive decline seen in dementia and Alzheimer’s.
3. Boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation - Astaxanthin boosts the immune cells that fight infection while simultaneously calming those that activate inappropriate inflammatory response. Studies show that astaxanthin offsets the immune stress caused by a less than perfect diet, freeing up more immune cells to fight against unwelcome invaders.
4. Supports skin health - Studies performed in which individuals were given 6 mg of oral astaxanthin for eight weeks demonstrated its ability to reduce skin wrinkles, while improving elasticity and moisture content. As we age, our skin elasticity decreases, age spots can begin to occur and the skin’s production of oil decreases, reducing moisture content. Supplementing with astaxanthin may help to delay this decline. Astaxanthin has also been found to reduce the negative effects of UV-A light, offering protection to skin from the sun’s intense rays.
5. Supports cardiovascular health - Astaxanthin is transported through the blood via LDL and HDL cholesterol. Its antioxidant properties allow it to protect these transport substances against any free radical damage. Also benefiting from its antioxidant scavenging abilities are the red blood cells. With less free radical damage, red blood cells are able to deliver oxygen to the tissues more efficiently, improving energy levels. Astaxanthin also improves blood flow, making its components less sticky.
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