Currently, Astaxanthin (ASX) is a renowned compound for its commercial application in various industries comprising aquaculture, food, cosmetics, nutraceuticals, and pharmaceuticals.
95% of ASX available in the market is produced synthetically using petrochemicals due to cost-efficiency for mass production.
Safety issues have arisen regarding the use of synthetic ASX for human consumption, while the ASX derived from H. pluvialis is the main source for several human applications, including dietary supplements, cosmetics, and food
Astaxanthin possesses an unusual antioxidant activity which has caused a surge in the nutraceutical market for the encapsulated product. Also, health benefits such as cardiovascular disease prevention, immune system boosting, bioactivity against Helycobacter pylori, and cataract prevention, have been associated with astaxanthin consumption
ASX is more bioactive than zeaxanthin, lutein, and β-carotene.
ASX has unique features that support its potential use in promoting human health.
ASX preserves the integrity of cell membranes by inserting itself in their bilayers, protects the redox state and functional integrity of mitochondria, and demonstrates benefits mostly at a very modest dietary intake, since its strongly polar nature optimizes the rate and extent of its absorption. Recently, ASX has attracted considerable interest because of its potential pharmacological effects, including anticancer, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant activities as well as neuro-, cardiovascular, ocular, and skin-protective effects, and achieve effective skin cancer chemoprevention
Astaxanthin decreased oxidative stress and inflammation and enhanced immune response
Immune cells are particularly sensitive to oxidative stress due to a high percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids in their plasma membranes, and they generally produce more oxidative products. Overproduction of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species can tip the oxidant:
antioxidant balance, resulting in the destruction of cell membranes, proteins and DNA. Therefore, under conditions of increased oxidative stress (e.g. during disease states), dietary antioxidants become critical in maintaining a desirable oxidant: antioxidant balance.
This study showed a dietary astaxanthin decreases a DNA damage biomarker and acute phase protein, and enhances immune response in young healthy females.
Promotes Integrated Immune Response
Effects on Metabolic Syndrome
Effects on Circulation.
As people age, their red blood cells (RBCs) can be more susceptible to oxidative attack, resulting in peroxidative damage to the RBC membrane phospholipids,31 impairing its oxygen-carrying capacity.
Preliminary Benefits for Memory and other Higher Brain Functions .Astaxanthin might improve cognitive functions
Effect on Vision and Eye Fatigue .
Astaxanthin has been extensively researched for its benefits for vision, especially in Japan.
Astaxanthin also might relieve eye fatigue in persons using computer monitors. Extended work at computer monitors is linked to eyes strain and to blurred vision, often accompanied by tensing of the muscles of the shoulder and low back.
Muscle Performance and Endurance
Effect on Helicobacter pylori in Functional Dyspepsia
In a 2008 RCT, astaxanthin was evaluated for functional dyspepsia (FD).
Effect on Mitochondrial Function
In a series of experiments with various cultured cell lines astaxanthin improved cell survival under oxidative stress (from the addition of antimycin A, which increases mitochondrial ROS generation). By adding an oxidant-sensitive molecular probe into the mitochondria, the researchers found that astaxanthin reduced the mitochondria’s endogenous production of oxygen radicals and protected the mitochondria against a decline of membrane
function that typically occurs over time in these cultures. Astaxanthin’s positive activity went even further; it increased mitochondrial activity in these cells by increasing oxygen consumption without increasing generation of ROS.
Skin-Protective Mechanisms of Astaxanthin
2.1. Antioxidant Activity
Oxidant events of skin aging involve damage to DNA, the inflammatory response, reduced production of antioxidants, and the generation of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) that degrade collagen and elastin in the dermal skin layer . There are many dietary or exogenous sources that act as antioxidants, including polyphenols and carotenoids.
ASX has recently caught the interest of researchers because of its powerful antioxidant activity and its unique molecular and biochemical messenger properties with implications in treating and preventing skin disease. Comparative studies examining the photoprotective effects of carotenoids have demonstrated that ASX is a superior antioxidant, having greater antioxidant capacity than canthaxanthin and β-carotene in human dermal fibroblasts.
In skin, ASX has been shown to improve dermal health by direct and downstream influences at several different steps of the oxidative stress cascade, while inhibiting inflammatory mediators at the same time . Molecular and morphological changes in aged skin not only compromise its protective role, but also contribute to the appearance of skin symptoms, including excessive dryness and pruritus, as well as increased predisposition to the formation or deepening of wrinkles, dyspigmentation, fragility and difficulty in healing injuries, alteration in skin permeability to drugs, impaired ability to sense and respond to mechanical stimuli, skin irritation, and tumor incidence . The effects of ASX on hyperpigmentation suppression, melanin synthesis and photoaging inhibition, and wrinkle formation reduction have been reported in several clinical studies
2.2. Anti-Inflammatory Properties
2.3. Immune-Enhancing Effects
Activated T cells and NK cells produce interferon-γ (IFN-γ), which is involved in immune regulation and B cell differentiation; Therefore, ASX can enhance immune responses and potentially exert antitumor activity
2.4. Effects on Skin Damage
2.5. Effects on DNA Repair
Astaxanthin ’s bioavailability is substantially affected by meal timing and by smoking.
Astaxanthin produces clinically significant antioxidant benefits in humans, including people vulnerable to oxidative stress, such as smokers, the obese, and the overweight.
Can be ordered here. 100% pure Astaxanthin 17.5 mg/50 g in organic manual pressed olive oil
MSc Clinical Nutritionist, accredited Nutritionist of UK from Association for Nutrition (AfN) London
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Higuera-Ciapara, L. Félix-Valenzuela & F. M. Goycoolea (2006) Astaxanthin: A Review of its Chemistry and Applications, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 46:2, 185-196, DOI: 10.1080/10408690590957188