Picture this: It’s a warm summer morning, not a cloud in the sky. You grab some friends and head down to the pier for a day on the water. Fishing rod in hand, you’re prepared to reel in anything that bites on the hook. At this very moment, your primary focus is on the fish itself – and probably not what’s inside. But given its association with multiple types of marine life, there’s a chance your latest catch contains Astaxanthin – a super antioxidant found in salmon, red trout, shrimp, and more.
It is good to know what’s inside the fish you catch, especially if you’re looking to turn them into a hearty seafood dish. So, with that in mind, let’s discuss the importance of Astaxanthin and highlight the benefits it brings to the table.
Reel in The Benefits of Astaxanthin
Astaxanthin is a versatile nutrient that benefits multiple functions throughout the body. Most often associated with pacific salmon, Astaxanthin is a carotenoid responsible for maintaining the pink hue of this spectacular fish. However, aside from its carotenoid pigment capabilities, Astaxanthin is an antioxidant that can powerfully support your healthy aging journey.
You might be aware of free radicals – the pesky, free roaming molecules that cause oxidative stress on our cells and tissue. Astaxanthin is an antioxidant booster that helps fight free radical activity and oxidative stress. As mentioned, this is key in any healthy aging journey because oxidative stress is said to prematurely accelerate the process of aging. In fact, research suggests free radical damage to cells could lead to pathological changes associated with aging. Simply put, antioxidants are key for fighting back against the potential damage caused by free radicals throughout the body.
It is clear that antioxidants are important for daily health and wellness – and Astaxanthin is known to promote antioxidant activity within the body, leading to a host of benefits. In fact, there are 10 clinically-validated benefits of Astaxanthin:
- Antioxidant Protection: Overall, the primary benefit of Astaxanthin is its antioxidant protection capabilities. Our bodies do not naturally produce Astaxanthin, so it is important to consume enough through external sources such as marine animals, plants, and dietary supplements.
Multiple studies credit Astaxanthin for reducing oxidative stress via antioxidant activity. For instance, a 2017 review published in the scientific journal GeroScience explains how Astaxanthin can be a useful compound in delaying the effects of normal aging found in the brain (more on this below).
- Healthy Aging & Cellular Health: Antioxidants play a major role in Healthy Aging by preventing and delaying cellular oxidative damage. Astaxanthin’s antioxidant action protects the cells and tissue found in our skin, eyes, brain, and more.
Alternative Medicine Review, a peer-reviewed medical journal, published a study that focused on the diverse clinical benefits and anti-aging potential of Astaxanthin. The research emphasized the unique cell membrane actions of Astaxanthin that neutralize free radicals. According to the clinical study, Astaxanthin lowered oxidative stress in smokers and overweight subjects, blocked oxidative stress to DNA, and even boosted immunity.
Astaxanthin has been clinically shown to support multiple key areas of health that relate to anti-aging. The study concluded with a vote of confidence towards Astaxanthin’s clinical success and how it extends beyond protection against oxidative stress. Furthermore, it credited Astaxanthin for its “demonstrable promise for slowing age-related decline.”
- Immune Support: The immune system is at the center of our body’s health defense network defense. And as such, keeping it healthy is of extreme importance.
Astaxanthin plays a major role in healthy immune system support. The International Journal of Molecular Sciences published a study that credits Astaxanthin as a stimulant to immune system responses by spurring the production of cytokines, a category of small proteins released by cells. These proteins are critical to keeping cells properly active and to the growth of new cells.
- Energy Production & Endurance: According to the National Safety Council, A staggering 69% of Americans are noticeably tired during the workday to the point that it compromises performance. Although this statistic is troubling, there are healthy ways to combat against fatigue – and promote energy – while in the office.
One such way to promote energy comes at the hands of Astaxanthin. A 2013 study concluded that Astaxanthin increases muscular strength and endurance due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. From there, the aforementioned properties offset inflammation and muscle damaged induced by strenuous exercise.
Although this study mentioned benefits relating muscle strength, the increase in endurance makes it relevant to workplace fatigue as well.
- Brain Health: Your brain is home to multiple functions that are vital to your health. A 2017 study cited Astaxanthin as having a “potential therapeutic role in preserving cognitive function in age.” Astaxanthin has picked up steam in recent years due to the rising interest in its antioxidative properties. Results from current research suggests Astaxanthin may contain neuroprotective properties such as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, according to the aforementioned 2018 study.
- Eye Health: Lutein is among the top nutrients for proper eye support. However, Astaxanthin, when combined with cyanidin-3-glucoside, DHA, and Lutein, has been shown in clinical trials to improve accommodative ability of people who suffer from eye strain.
An August 2014 study verified this claim, as 48 participants aged 45 to 64 went on record to complain of strained eyes on a daily basis. The study showed the dietary supplement containing 4 milligrams of Astaxanthin along with lutein, DHA and cyanidin-3-glucosides derived from extracts of Bilberry and Black Soybean hulls “has effect to improve accommodative ability and subjective symptoms related to eye fatigue.”
For reference, the American Academy of Ophthalmology defines accommodation as the eye’s ability to increase its refractive power of the crystalline lens in order to focus on objects on the retina.
- Cardiovascular Support: Experimental studies in animal models suggest Astaxanthin contains protective effects for cardiovascular health. Although this has not been tested in human clinical trials on humans, Astaxanthin has demonstrated the ability to support the body’s antioxidant defenses against oxidative stress and inflammation – both of which are known contributors to cardiovascular issues.
- Skin Health & UV Protection: As mentioned, Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant – it works at the cellular level to protect your tissues from oxidative stress. Additionally, it belongs to the class of nutrients known as carotenes, which are good for the skin. The skin serves as your body’s most external tissue, and consequently, most exposed one as well.
As the skin becomes exposed to Ultraviolent light, or UV, unbalanced molecules called free radicals build in tissues which could lead to oxidative stress. This process contributes to skin damage and aging, so it is important to take the proper steps to protect your skin from harm.
Experimental Dermatology, a scientific journal, published a study that stated “oxo-carotenoid Astaxanthin has a superior preventive effect towards oxidative changes in cell culture.” This means that Astaxanthin was a stand-out nutrient in a study that investigated the ability of multiple nutrients when it comes to the effects of UV light on the cells responsible for generating connective tissue in skin.
- Joint & Muscle Support: Similar to infertility in men, support for joints and muscles is perhaps one of the lesser-known benefits of Astaxanthin. A 2019 study published in the journal Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy found that Haematococcus pluvialis, a freshwater microalgae species rich in Astaxanthin and other carotenes, partially reversed low bone mass in rats. This suggests Astaxanthin might help maintain healthy bone mass in humans.
- Male Fertility: Astaxanthin goes beyond support for brain, eyes, heart, skin, immune system, and more. And while those areas of the body are perhaps more associated with Astaxanthin than male fertility, there are multiple studies that investigate this claim.
For instance, one study used Astaxanthin as an antioxidant treatment for male infertility. The study consisted of 30 men with infertility of greater than or equal to two months and female partners with no demonstrable cause of infertility treatment.
Although the study did suggest the positive effects Astaxanthin on sperm fertility, it mentioned that the results need to be validated on a larger scale before recommending the nutrient as potential nutrient for male infertility.
Top Sources of Astaxanthin
As previously discussed, our bodies fail to naturally produce Astaxanthin. The human body must count on external sources – such as seafood, plants, and dietary supplements – to get the job done. Astaxanthin has bolstered its claim as a versatile nutrient with multiple clinically studied benefits, thus making the nutrient an important component of healthy living.
Astaxanthin is commonly found in multiple types of aquatic craniate animals that live under the sea. This includes algae, trout, krill, shrimp, crayfish, and, most notably, salmon. Each form of marine life mentioned, especially salmon, get their color from Astaxanthin, a major carotenoid. This particular nutrient is responsible for the pink-red pigmentation of salmon. Aside from its ability to help salmon remain easy on the eyes, certain fish count on Astaxanthin for antioxidant protection and other benefits, per one study. Like humans, certain types of marine life need Astaxanthin to carry out vital functions throughout the body.
For those who may not enjoy fish as much as others, Astaxanthin is present in multiple dietary supplements that can be easily accessed. For many people, this is the most convenient way to enjoy the benefits of Astaxanthin.
Pack Up the Fishing Pole
So, you’ve made it to the end of another day of fishing. After a deep dive into the benefits of Astaxanthin, you have certainly learned an ocean’s worth of information on Astaxanthin. And while you can certainly go fishing for food sources of this vital antioxidant, sometimes the supplement shelf is easier than a rod and reel.