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Astaxanthin: The Inflammation Fighter
- Astaxanthin is an organic plant pigment, or carotenoid, that can be found in pink-tinted substances like algae, shrimp, lobster, salmon, and various other sources. It is a pigment that helps to support good health, just like beta-carotene, but it’s approximately 550 times stronger than vitamin E, and 6,000 times stronger than vitamin C!
- In the animal world, astaxanthin helps salmon swim up-stream. In humans, it is a fat-soluble antioxidant capable of improving muscle, joint, and brain function, limiting retina damage, and fighting off the symptoms of various conditions including diabetes, carpal tunnel, and even cancer.
- Astaxanthin can
- Eliminate inflammation and pain
- Improve exercise performance
- Fight muscle fatigue
- Support good eye and heart health
- Clean up cells and enhance fertility
- Ensure younger, more beautiful looking skin
- Protect cells against UV damage
- As a fat-soluble substance, it is often best to take astaxanthin alongside healthy plant-based fats like avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, chia seeds, and flaxseeds. Though most experts recommend starting with small doses, it’s possible to ramp up your consumption over time and see significant benefits.
- Though astaxanthin substances won’t present huge changes over night, they will begin to work on damage within your system instantly, and eventually you’ll begin to feel the benefits. It is important to remember that astaxanthin is not meant to cure bad lifestyle choices or an excuse to eat unhealthy foods.
What is Astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin is a completely natural carotenoid that can be found in shrimp, algae, salmon, lobster, and various other sources. For those who don’t know, carotenoids are pigments that occur organically in nature, and can support good health. For instance, Beta-carotene – one of the most well known anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory substances, and also found in carrots, is orange. On the other hand, astaxanthin – a substance quickly emerging as “king of the carotenoids”, is red. It is the stuff that is responsible for turning shrimp, lobster, and salmon flesh pink!
This unique plant nutrient is synthesized by microalgae known as “Haematococcus” in fresh water. When harvested from the algae, this substance becomes the most powerful antioxidant in the natural world. In terms of potency, it’s 550 times stronger than vitamin E, and 6,000 times better than vitamin C!
In the animal world, astaxanthin can be found in its highest concentrations in the muscles of salmon. Scientists believe that this substance helps these remarkable fish to maintain the endurance they need for up-stream swimming. Farmed fish are often fed algae containing astaxanthin to help give them more color, which is what makes the crab and lobster you eat look so appealing.
In humans, astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant with various health implications. This substance has been commended as a supplement for protecting the joints, central nervous system, and eyes, and some research even suggests that it could be useful for minimizing high LDL cholesterol, reducing muscle weakness, and treating carpal tunnel syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis.
As antioxidants go, astaxanthin is a superhero.
What Makes Astaxanthin So Special?
There are plenty of natural anti-oxidants out there, so what makes astaxanthin so unique? First of all, while it is related to carotenoids like lutein, beta-carotene, and canthaxanthin, it has a unique structure that helps it to work in a very special way. While most antioxidants are depleted after they have transferred their available free electrons, astaxanthin has a huge surplus, which means it remains active within the system for longer.
The benefits get better too. Unlike the majority of inflammation-fighting antioxidants, astaxanthin is a fat-soluble substance, meaning that fat molecules can carry it directly through organs and tissues in your body where it’s needed most – such as the brain, retinas, breast and prostate tissue, and skeletal muscles too! If you need an insight into how valuable this substance is for your muscles, consider the fact that salmon are only average swimmers without it. However, with astaxanthin, farm salmon survival rate shoots up from 17% to 98%!
As an inflammation fighter, astaxanthin acts on five different pathways, maintaining balance within your body’s internal systems. Additionally, it can handle a larger number of free radicals at any given time than most antioxidants. Vitamin C, and E, for instance, can only manage one free radical at a time, but astaxanthin can face numerous substances simultaneously, by producing an electron cloud around the molecule.
Various studies have found that astaxanthin can even help to enhance brain health and limit the risk of age-related cognitive decline. The reason for this is that when astaxanthin is present within tissue and muscles, it can prevent oxidation where it’s most needed – right at the site of the potential stress. In fact, in animal-based studies, astaxanthin has been used in various ways to enhance the health of subjects. For instance, it can:
- Improve the health and fertility of chickens and salmon
- Reduce the risk of salmonella in chickens
- Boost immune system response in animals
- Enhance cell growth
Throughout a range of studies, we’ve discovered that this unique antioxidant can operate on numerous biochemical levels at once to provide a host of health benefits, including:
- Reduced chances of cancerous tumors
- Protection from Alzheimer’s and dementia
- Reduced risk of joint pain and inflammation
- Limited oxidative damage
- Greatly increasing muscle endurance and recovery
- Enhance blood sugar levels and blood flow
- Eliminating or reducing carpal tunnel
- Promote cardiovascular health
- Boost immune system functioning
- Enhance fertility and sperm quality
- Normalizing histamine levels
5 Reasons to Start Using Astaxanthin Right Now
The more we research astaxanthin, the more we discover that fish oil isn’t the only ocean-based substance that can improve function and health within the human body. This unique antioxidant has been linked to a host of fantastic health benefits, and may have a future in curing some of the most dangerous diseases on the planet.
So, why should you start taking it right now? Here are five great reasons to get you started.
1. Astaxanthin eliminates inflammation and pain
Astaxanthin is perfect for alleviating inflammation and discomfort. It blocks some of the chemicals in your body that make you uncomfortable, and reduces the presence of inflammatory compounds which are responsible for driving numerous chronic diseases. Though its 100% natural, astaxanthin works similarly to some prescription analgesics, without the risk of GI bleeds, addiction, or heartburn.
For instance, astaxanthin can block COX 2 enzymes, similarly to Celebrex, the drug that’s typically prescribed for osteoarthritis, acute pain, and rheumatoid arthritis.
2. Astaxanthin improves performance and fights fatigue
Need something to keep you going strong during your standard workout routines? Astaxanthin is a wonderful solution for improving endurance, muscle recovery after exercise, and limiting feelings of fatigue. Studies conducted on mice found that astaxanthin can boost the way that the body uses fatty acids, which helps to prevent muscle and skeletal damage, while promoting endurance.
Although additional studies have yet to be done on human subjects, many scientists believe that just like the salmon that use astaxanthin in their muscles to access the strength they need to swim upstream, we can use the same antioxidant to enhance our own performance and energy levels.
3. Astaxanthin supports good eye health and heart health
As mentioned above, astaxanthin is a fat-soluble antioxidant, which means that it has the power to pass through the barriers inside of your body and support the function of your retinas. Some clinical trials have shown that astaxanthin is effective at treating diabetic retinopathy, eye strain, macular degeneration, and fatigue.
Researchers are also looking into claims that astaxanthin may promote better heart health too. For instance, a 2006 study found that when used in rats with hypertension, astaxanthin helped to improve arterial wall thickness and elastin levels.
4. Astaxanthin cleans up cells and improves fertility
When it comes to antioxidant coverage, astaxanthin is in a world of its own. When compared to other carotenoids, it’s been found to have the highest antioxidant activity against free radicals. Since it can span the entire cell, it can protect and enhance the performance of your entire body, getting rid of free radicals and clearing the way for better function.
One of the ways that astaxanthin can help to enhance your performance is by boosting fertility. A 2005 study found that astaxanthin improved sperm count and motility.
5. Astaxanthin promotes beautiful skin and Protects against UV Rays
Astaxanthin is effective at protecting the body’s largest organ – the skin. Studies consistently show excellent results when it comes to assisting with skin moisture levels, elasticity, smoothness, and even reducing the presence of wrinkles.
Used topically and orally, one 2012 study found that astaxanthin could smooth out wrinkles, cause age spots to appear smaller, and help to moisturize skin. It also protects you against sun damage, and if you do end up with a sunburn, which causes inflammation, astaxanthin penetrates the cells and reduces the damage.
How to Take Astaxanthin for the Best Results
Because it is a fat-soluble substance, the best way to maximize your consumption of astaxanthinto ensure it reaches all your organs, tissues, and cells, is to consume it in a diet that contains plenty of healthy fats. That means eating plenty of plant-based fats like olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, fish oil, flaxseed oil, and chia seeds. With the help of the right fats, astaxanthin can be efficiently transported throughout the entire body, to the places where your body needs it most.
Wondering where your body needs healthy fat? Well, the answer is pretty much everywhere. For instance, your brain is made up of around 60% fat, so protecting it with antioxidants that can cross through the blood-brain barrier is essential! Most experts recommend that if you want to give it a try, you start with a dose of around 2mg each day, then work your way up to 4mg, or more depending on your specific needs. Some people who suffer from chronic inflammation find that it is helpful to take far higher doses on a regular basis. The supplement called krill also contains astaxanthin.
One of the best foods to consume astaxanthin with is wild pacific salmon. Salmon naturally has the highest astaxanthin content, but you may need to eat around six ounces every day just to get a dose of around 3.6 milligrams. Since most studies suggest taking a higher dose to get the best anti-inflammatory benefits, it is suggested to take a supplement when you don’t eat salmon.
A few things to remember when you start taking astaxanthin include:
- It is not going to work instantly overnight – you need to give it some time to kick into your system. Just like you wouldn’t expect to lose weight the same second you start dieting, it’s important to remember that you might not feel much of a difference for the first few days when you start taking astaxanthin. It takes a while for the carotenoids you’re introducing into your system to find their way into the muscles and surrounding tissues. However, once you do begin to feel the benefits, you will often find that they continue to increase for several weeks, which means that the longer you continue taking your supplement, the better you will feel. Eventually, the impact of the anti-inflammatory substance will level off, and you will simply stay at a certain point, enjoying the advantages for as long as you take astaxanthin.
- It is not going to counteract bad habits – although astaxanthin can help to eliminate some of the dangerous substances in your body, and prevent additional damage, it’s not going to counteract unhealthy habits if you continue to live a certain kind of lifestyle. Smoking cigarettes, eating fried foods, and consuming fat-laden substances will still have the same negative impact on your body regardless of whether you’re taking astaxanthin or not. If you really want to see the benefits, then you should be taking this supplement alongside a positive diet and exercise routine. Do not simply use astaxanthin as an excuse to pursue unhealthy lifestyle choices.
- Do not “over do” exercise – although exercise is always good for you, it is important to make sure that you don’t push yourself to accomplish too much too fast. Remember to work alongside a qualified health practitioner when making changes to your diet and exercise habits, and ease into your lifestyle improvements at a pace that is slow and careful. After all, it is always better to slowly grow more accustomed to exercise, than to injure yourself because you pushed further than you can reasonably manage.
- Try to take your astaxanthin with healthy fats like avocados and coconut oil, these healthy fats will help the antioxidant to hitch a ride into your body’s cells, making the absorption of nutritional benefits easier for you.
- Remember that if you eat a lot of unhealthy and fried foods, then you will instantly start to use up many of the antioxidant powers that are found in astaxanthin, which means that less is left behind to assist the rest of your body. Unhealthy foods are highly oxidizing, so if you must eat fried foods, make sure that you keep your amounts to a minimum, and take the right amount of astaxanthin accordingly.
- Remember, though it has many potent medical benefits, this substance is not a drug – it is simply something that has been a natural part of our food supply over millions of years of evolution and organic development.
One of the Safest Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Substances
Worried about potential toxicity? Good news. Unlike some of the other antioxidants available – particularly synthetic carotenoids – astaxanthin cannot turn pro-oxidant, even at high levels. The molecular structure of the substance simply does not allow for it.
Usually, astaxanthin is extracted from algae and other substances using supercritical CO2 extraction, which utilizes the use of compressed CO2 for removing key nutrients. After the nutrients have been extracted, the CO2 simply evaporates harmlessly into the atmosphere, introducing no new chemicals into the environment, and leaving nothing behind in the resulting product. This means that astaxanthin contains no toxic chemicals at all. In fact, astaxanthin actually protects beta cells against toxicity from glucose in diabetics!
It’s no wonder that many experts consider astaxanthin to be one of the most amazing supplements available in the natural world today – challenged only by the immune-system boosting superhero – vitamin D. Though the jury is still out on some of the health claims that astaxanthin supporters are now touting, you can be sure that as an anti-oxidant, astaxanthin is undoubtedly good for you.