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strong guy posingAsaxanthin is a carotenoid that is found naturally occurring primarily in algae, certain fish, and crustaceans. This carotenoid does not convert to vitamin A as other carotenoids do, so toxicity is not much of an issue with higher doses of astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is a powerful anti-oxidant, and it may also have anti-aging benefits, boost immune system function, act as an anti-inflammatory, improve endurance performance, and reduce body fat.

Astaxanthin is a special anti-oxidant, as unlike most other anti-oxidants it can cross the blood-retina barrier and the blood-brain barrier. Because of this, astaxanthin is able to exert its anti-oxidant effects in the eyes and nervous system. Astaxanthin may have use not only as a general anti-oxidant, but also in the treatment and prevention of eye and neurodegenerative diseases. Astaxanthin has been found to protect against UVA damage through its anti-oxidant effects, making it a potential anti-aging supplement to protect against UVA induced aging of the skin.

Astaxanthin has been found to boost immune system function in human studies. It has also been shown to act as an anti-inflammatory, making it of possible benefit as a long term treatment method for chronic inflammatory diseases. In mice, Astaxanthin supplementation was found to increase fat utilization and lower blood lactate during endurance exercise, leading to more fat burned during exercise and extended time to exhastion. Astaxanthin has also been found to increase insulin sensitivity in rats when taken at a high dose (25-200 mg/kg), but it is unknown if this benefit is significant in humans at a more reasonable dose.

While the typical use of astaxanthin is as an anti-oxidant, it clearly has many other benefits associated with its use. Astaxanthin is a component of krill oil supplements, and it may also be purchased by itself as either synthetically produced astaxanthin or extracted from natural sources such as algae.

References

1. Aoi W, Naito Y, Takanami Y, Ishii T, Kawai Y, Akagiri S, Kato Y, Osawa T, & Yoshikawa T. (2008). Astaxanthin improves muscle lipid metabolism in exercise via inhibitory effect of oxidative CPT I modification. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. 366(4), 892-7.

2. Ikeuchi M, Koyama T, Takahashi J, & Yazawa K. (2006). Effects of astaxanthin supplementation on exercise-induced fatigue in mice. Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 29(10), 2106-10.

3. Aoi W, Naito Y, Sakuma K, Kuchide M, Tokuda H, Maoka T, Toyokuni S, Oka S, Yasuhara M, & Yoshikawa T. (2003). Astaxanthin limits exercise-induced skeletal and cardiac muscle damage in mice. Antioxidants & Redox Signaling. 5(1), 139-44.

4. Preuss HG, Echard B, Yamashita E, & Perricone NV. (2011). High dose astaxanthin lowers blood pressure and increases insulin sensitivity in rats: are these effects interdependent? International Journal of Medical Sciences. 8(2), 126-38.

5. Yuan JP, Peng J, Yin K, & Wang JH. (2011). Potential health-promoting effects of astaxanthin: a high-value carotenoid mostly from microalgae. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 55(1), 150-65.

6. Park JS, Chyun JH, Kim YK, Line LL, & Chew BP. (2010). Astaxanthin decreased oxidative stress and inflammation and enhanced immune response in humans. Nutrition & Metabolism. 7, 18.

7. Suganuma K, Nakajima H, Ohtsuki M, & Imokawa G. (2010). Astaxanthin attenuates the UVA-induced up-regulation of matrix-metalloproteinase-1 and skin fibroblast elastase in human dermal fibroblasts. Journal of Dermatological Science. 58(2), 136-42.

8. Pashkow FJ, Watumull DG, & Campbell CL. (2008). Astaxanthin: a novel potential treatment for oxidative stress and inflammation in cardiovascular disease. The American Journal of Cardiology. 101(10A), 58D-68D.

9. Hussein G, Sankawa U, Goto H, Matsumoto K, & Watanabe H. (2006). Astaxanthin, a carotenoid with potential in human health and nutrition. Journal of Natural Products. 69(3), 443-9.

10. Santocono M, Zurria M, Berrettini M, Fedeli D, & Falcioni G. (2006). Influence of astaxanthin, zeaxanthin and lutein on DNA damage and repair in UVA-irradiated cells. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology. B, Biology. 85(3), 205-15.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cassie is a chemistry major and national level bodybuilder. Questions or comments? Talk to Cassie on the FORUM or on FACEBOOK.

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