Asaxanthin 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.
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