What Is Astaxanthin Derived From?
The natural sources of astaxanthin are algae, yeast, salmon, trout, krill, shrimp and crayfish. Astaxanthin from various microorganism sources are presented in Table 1. The commercial astaxanthin is mainly from Phaffia yeast, Haematococcus and through chemical synthesis. Haematococcus pluvialis is one of the best sources of natural astaxanthin. Astaxanthin content in wild and farmed salmonids are shown in Figure 1. Among the wild salmonids, the maximum astaxanthin content in wild Oncorhynchus species was reported in the range of 26–38 mg/kg flesh in sockeye salmon whereas low astaxanthin content was reported in chum. Astaxanthin content in farmed Atlantic salmon was reported as 6–8 mg/kg flesh. Astaxanthin is available in the European (6 mg/kg flesh) and Japanese market (25 mg/kg flesh) from large trout. Shrimp, crab and salmon can serve as dietary sources of astaxanthin. Wild caught salmon is a good source of astaxanthin. In order to get 3.6 mg of astaxanthin one can eat 165 grams of salmon per day. Astaxanthin supplement at 3.6 mg per day can be beneficial to health as reported by Iwamoto et al.
What are the benefits of taking astaxanthin?
Fish oil with omega-3 fatty acids isn’t the only thing from the ocean that can improve function in the human body. Astaxanthin is a carotenoid pigment that occurs in trout, microalgae, yeast, and shrimp, among other sea creatures. It’s most commonly found in Pacific salmon and is what gives the fish its pinkish color.
An antioxidant, astaxanthin is said to have many health benefits. It’s been linked to healthier skin, endurance, heart health, joint pain, and may even have a future in cancer treatment.
As you may be aware, antioxidants are good for you. Astaxanthin’s antioxidant properties provide the main source of the health claims and benefits of the supplement, particularly when used to help treat cancer.
It's been linkedTrusted Source to improved blood flow, and lowering oxidative stress in smokers and overweight people. A comparison studyTrusted Source of astaxanthin and other carotenoids showed that it displayed the highest antioxidant activity against free radicals.
Because of its antioxidant properties, there has been a lot of research on how astaxanthin might help to treat various cancers. One studyTrusted Source found short- and long-term benefits for the treatment of breast cancer, including reduced growth of breast cancer cells.The high cost of purified astaxanthin has limited its use in further studies and cancer treatments.
3. The skin
Astaxanthin can be used topically to promote healthy skin. A 2012 study showed that combining topical and oral doses of astaxanthin can help to smooth wrinkles, make age spots smaller, and help maintain skin moisture. There were positive results in both men and women, but more study is needed to confirm these findings.
4. Exercise supplement
There has been a lot of study on how astaxanthin can affect endurance, as well as fatigue levels after exercise. Studies on mice show that it can boost the body’s use of fatty acidsTrusted Source, which helps endurance, and prevent muscle and skeletal damage.
So far, however, evidence for its effects on human exercise is still lacking. One studyTrusted Source using human subjects found no exercise benefits from astaxanthin supplements in relation to muscle injury.
5. Heart health
Researchers are also looking into claims that astaxanthin can benefit heart health. A 2006 studyTrusted Source examined astaxanthin’s effects on rats with hypertension (high blood pressure), and results indicated that it may help to improve elastin levels and arterial wall thickness.Other claims include the notion that astaxanthin can prevent heart disease and help lower cholesterol, but there isn’t sufficient evidence to support these uses yet.
6. Joint pain
Astaxanthin may also have a future in the treatment of joint pain, including conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, which affects nearly one in every five AmericansTrusted Source, and carpal tunnel syndrome. However, results so far have been mixed.
Some studies show that astaxanthin may be able to reduce inflammation and pain symptoms related to arthritis. However, a studyTrusted Source on the relationship between astaxanthin and carpal tunnel syndrome found no evidence to support the claim.
7. Male fertility
In a 2005 study, astaxanthin showed positive results for male fertility. Over the course of three months, the double-blind study examined 30 different men who were previously suffering from infertility.
The researchers saw improvements in sperm parameters, like count and motility, and improved fertility in the group who received a strong dosage of astaxanthin. As this was a relatively small-scale study, more evidence and research is needed to support this claim.
Astaxanthin sources in plants
Astaxanthin is a blood-red pigment and is produced naturally in the freshwater microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis and the yeast fungus Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous (also known as Phaffia). When the algae is stressed by lack of nutrients, increased salinity, or excessive sunshine, it creates astaxanthin. Animals who feed on the algae, such as salmon, red trout, red sea bream, flamingos, and crustaceans (i.e. shrimp, krill, crab, lobster, and crayfish), subsequently reflect the red-orange astaxanthin pigmentation to various degrees.
The structure of astaxanthin by synthesis was described in 1975. Astaxanthin is not converted to vitamin A in the human body so it is completely nontoxic if given orally.
Astaxanthin is LIKELY SAFE when it is consumed in amounts found in food.
Astaxanthin is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth as a supplement. Astaxanthin has been used safely by itself in doses of 4 to 40 mg daily for up to 12 weeks, or 12 mg daily for 6 months. It has been used safely in combination with other carotenoids, vitamins, and minerals at 4 mg daily for up to 12 months. Side effects of astaxanthin may include increased bowel movements and red stool color. High doses of astaxanthin may cause stomach pain.
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