Astaxanthin Benefits and Dangers

For thousands, if not millions, of years, salmon and krill and lobster have
swum together in the ocean of life.As they float and frolic, each reveling in their resplendent hue of
orange, they are blissfully unaware that the answer to inflammation, heart disease, and even eye health lies deep
within their tissues.If you think you’ve heard this story before—that you know all about
omega-3 fatty acids—think again.  Omega-3s are so yesterday.  We are
talking about is a super-nutrient that been found to be one of the most potent
antioxidants and anti-inflammatories around.Cellular Health from the Sea…Astaxanthin belongs to the carotenoid family, and is a fat-soluble
pigment found in shrimp, crab, lobster, salmon, trout, krill, crayfish,
andmicroalgae, specificallyHaematococus
pluvialis.  It is even found in the feathers of some birds.As you’ve likely noticed, there is one common trait among all of these
sources.  No, it’s not water-related.  It’s the fact these animals are
orange.  That’s the astaxanthin.  And, as you can imagine, the deeper
the color, the higher the astaxanthin concentration.Astaxanthin was first “discovered” by British chemist Basil Weedon around
19701.
He also unveiled several other carotenoids, including canthaxanthin (which gives
flamingos that brilliant pink hue), fucoxanthin (found in seaweed), and
renieratene (found in Japanese sea sponges).But our man Basil wasn’t just a brilliant chemist.  Rumor has it he
also studied antique clocks and was a mean Latin American dancer!The Most Famous Secret in Natural Health…Thanks to this true Renaissance man, natural health experts everywhere
began to study astaxanthin.Mike Adams, author of Natural
News, calls it the “little-known miracle nutrient.” Dr. Joseph Mercola has
declared astaxanthin the “number one supplement you should be taking.” And Dr.
Stephen Sinatra, author of Heart,
Health, & Nutrition, has
touted astaxanthin as an “antioxidant powerhouse.”Across all alternative health channels, experts are
claiming that astaxanthin provides a wide range of health benefits,

Astaxanthin Benefits for health

including:Reducing
inflammation,
Suppressing
free radical damage,
Protecting
against LDL
cholesterol oxidation,
Prevents
UVB-related sun damage,
Increasing
immune function,
Increasing
HDL cholesterol,
Preventing
eye disease (cataracts and macular degeneration),
Reducing cancer risk,
Stabilizing
blood sugar levels,
Improving
fertility in men, and
Easing
symptoms from a wide range of neuro degenerative diseases.Great
“Anti” Properties…According to a meta-analysis of several astaxanthin2 studies, there is definitely
merit to the claims regarding this incredible nutrient’s wide-reaching
benefits.  Researchers looked at more than 100 studies and concurred that
astaxanthin has health potential in a number of areas.  This is due to its
“potent bioactivities” as an:Antioxidant,

Anticancer,

Antidiabetic,
and
Anti-inflammatory
agent.They also found that astaxanthin had research that supported its
protective effect on a variety of systems, including:Gastrointestinal,

Liver,

Nerves,

Cardiovascular,

Ocular
(eyes), and
Skin.On the antioxidant front, astaxanthin clearly is a superstar.  In
one study, researchers compared astaxanthin to other carotenoids known to be
good sources of antioxidants, namely beta-carotene, lutein, alpha-carotene,
alpha-tocopherol, and lycopene3.

They found that astaxanthin had the highest antioxidant activity.A separate study looked at the anti-inflammatory capabilities of
astaxanthin in rats4.
They actually did a two-part study.  In the first part, they induced
inflammation in the uvea (the middle layer of the eye).  They then gave the
rats either 100mg/kg of astaxanthin or 10mg/kg of prednisolone.They found that the astaxanthin not only suppressed the development of
inflammation, but was as
effective as the
prednisolone.  Which is to say the natural treatment worked equally well as
the prescription.In the second part of the study, researchers studied the effect of
astaxanthin on inflammation-induced nitric oxide synthase, prostaglandin E2, and
tumor necrosis factor-alpha production (all inflammation markers) in mouse
cells.  They found that the astaxanthin decreased the production of nitric
oxide synthase, as well as the production of prostaglandin E2 and tumor necrosis
factor-alpha.They concluded that astaxanthin does have an anti-inflammatory effect,
due to its ability to suppress the three named inflammation markers.These studies seem to confirm that astaxanthin does indeed appear to have
potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  And while these
studies are strong, they are meta-analyses, animal, and cell studies.  And
they are on the potency of the nutrient.We wanted to see how astaxanthin worked in humans on specific
conditions.  So we went back to the research.  And we learned that
astaxanthin is a cardiovascular powerhouse!Astaxanthin Does a Heart Good…In a randomized, placebo-controlled study5,
61 normal weight subjects were divided into four groups.  The first was
given 6mg of astaxanthin a day for 12 weeks.  The second group took 12
mg/day, the third took 18mg/day and the fourth group took a placebo.After 12 weeks, researchers found that, while body mass index and LDL
cholesterol were affected, regardless of amount of astaxanthin taken,
triglycerides decreased and HDL cholesterol increased.  Specifically, 12 mg
and 18 mg both significantly reduced triglycerides and 6 mg and 12 mg
significantly increased HDL cholesterol levels.In a separate gold standard, double blind, placebo-controlled, randomized
study6,
researchers separated healthy, non-smoking Finnish men into two groups.
The first group took two 4 mg capsules of astaxanthin a day for three
months.  The second group took a placebo.After the three months, researchers found that both 12- and 15-hydroxy
fatty acids were statistically significantly reduced in the astaxanthin
group.  Researchers concluded that supplementation with astaxanthin may
decrease oxidation of fatty acids.This is key, as oxidation of fatty acids is the main culprit in heart
disease.  Oxidation can lead to inflammation, which has been linked to a
wide range of health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and
even Alzheimer’s disease.  Speaking of which….Keep
Your Mind Clear with Astaxanthin…Researchers tested astaxanthin’s effect on dementia, and what they found
was very interesting.In another gold standard, double blind, placebo-controlled, randomized
study7,
researchers separated 30 people into three groups.  One group took 6 mg of
astaxanthin a day for 12 weeks.  The second group took 12 mg/day and the
third group took a placebo.At the end of the 12 weeks, researchers discovered that phospholipid
hydroperoxides were significantly lower in both astaxanthin groups than in the
placebo group.  This is important, why?Phospholipid hydroperoxides are abnormally accumulated in people with
dementia.  By lowering their accumulation, researchers concluded that
astaxanthin supplementation might contribute to the prevention of
dementia.Using Astaxanthin…Clearly astaxanthin has far-reaching health benefits, especially for
heart health.  But it is by no means a magic bullet.  Should you
decide to give astaxanthin a whirl, please do so as part of an overall healthy
lifestyle, which includes a reasonable caloric intake full of nutrient-dense
foods and moderate daily exercise.In terms of dosage, based on the above studies, you’ll want to aim for
6–12 mg of astaxanthin a day.  Be sure to choose a product free of
preservatives, fillers, binders, excipients, flow agents, shellacs, coloring
agents, gluten, yeast, lactose, and other
allergens.   Ideally you’ll also be able to find independent analysis
done by a third party to verify the active ingredients and identify any
contaminants.There are no significant side effects associated with astaxanthin, though
some people have noticed a slight orange color to their bowel movements.
The discoloration is safe and usually subsides in time.So don’t be afraid to give one of the best-kept secrets in alternative
medicine a try.