Eight Health Benefits Of Astaxanthin - The Internal Sunscreen
Astaxanthin protects the skin from photo damage and improves its moisture level
Astaxanthin - the King of Carotenoids
Astaxanthin belongs to the carotenoid group of antioxidants, the molecules that neutralize harmful free radicals, and protect our body from damage.
It is classified as a xanthophyll, and is a metabolite of Zeaxanthin and/or Canthaxanthin.
Astaxanthin is found naturally in micro algae, yeast, salmon, trout, krill, shrimps, crayfish, and crustaceans. It is the pigment that imparts red color to salmon meat and cooked shellfish.
It is believed to be the secret energy source that provides extraordinary endurance to these aquatic animals to swim upstream.
It is not converted to vitamin-A in our body (very unlike most carotenoids that ultimately change into retinol), and has a self-limited oral absorption with very low or almost no toxicity by mouth.
It has currently been approved by the U.S. F.D.A. as a coloring agent or food additive in animal and fish foods.
Natural Sources of Astaxanthin
Currently the common natural sources of astaxanthin are the micro algae Hematococcus pluvialis and the wild pacific salmon.
It is used as an animal feed additive to impart characteristic coloration to farm raised salmon and egg yolks.
The main health benefits of astaxanthin include the following :
1. As an Anti inflammatory Agent
Astaxanthin reduces the chemicals that are responsible for increasing inflammation in our body, which is the culprit behind most chronic multi factorial disorders.
It is a natural pain reliever. It does so by blocking cyclo oxygenase-2 enzyme (cox-2) and suppressing the serum levels of Nitric Oxide (NO), Interleukin (IL)-1B, Prostaglandin-E2(PG-E2), C-reactive Protein (CRP), and Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha(TNF-alpha).
It brings about this reduction in C-reactive Protein levels within 8 weeks time. (CRP is an indicator of a person's risk of suffering from a heart attack, and is an acute phase protein)
2. Beneficial for Cardiovascular Health
Coronary atherosclerosis is the commonest cause of cardiovascular disability throughout the world. Epidemiological studies have identified a number of important risk factors for premature coronary heart disease, that include a positive family history, male gender, raised blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, cigarette smoking, diabetes mellitus, elevated blood homocysteine levels, and hypoestrogenemia (low levels of hormone estrogen) in women.
Astaxanthin intake reduces peroxidative damage of LDL or bad cholesterol and reduces the risk of it getting deposited in blood vessel walls, reduces blood cholesterol levels, and decreases the chances of getting a stroke or brain attack.
Astaxanthin molecules protect retina of the eye from age related degeneration
3. For Better Vision
Age related macular degeneration is a leading cause of permanent visual loss in the elderly. Its exact cause is unknown, but the incidence increases with each decade over age 50 (to almost 30% by age 75).
Astaxanthin molecules have the capacity to directly reach retina of the eye and prevent degeneration of cells of the macula.
It also slows down the progression of both proliferative and non-proliferative retinopathy that is a common complication of long-standing diabetes.
Regular intake of astaxanthin also reduces eye strain, eye muscle fatigue, and helps improve fine vision.
4. Prevents Neuro degenerative Disorders and Improves Brain Function
Alzheimer's disease is a degenerative disorder that typically presents with early problems in memory and visuospatial abilities, like becoming lost in familiar surroundings,and an inability to copy geometric designs on paper.
Parkinsonism is associated with any combination of tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia or slowness of voluntary movement, and progressive postural instability.
Astaxanthin is exceptionally powerful in singlet oxygen quenching capacity, and thus removes the harmful free radicals that cause progressive damage with increasing age.
It is 6000 times stronger than vitamin-C; 800 times more powerful than Coenzyme Q-10; 550 times more effective than Green Tea; and 75 times more efficient than Alpha Lipoic Acid.
It thus slows down the progression of neuro degenerative disorders.
5. Anti aging Properties
Astaxanthin has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capabilities that indicate its potential to modulate aging.
Oxidative stress is believed to be the principal mechanism behind the aging process. So enhancement of antioxidant protection and inhibition of free radical production are biological pathways that may protect against oxidative damage, mitigate the risk of age associated diseases, and diminish the rate of aging.
The mechanism by which astaxanthin is able to modulate aging, is by activation of insulin signalling pathway and upregulation of FOXO3 gene.
Astaxanthin is excellent for recovery from rigorous exercise
6. Helps Fight Fatigue
Astaxanthin is excellent for recovery from rigorous exercise. It improves the muscle power, increases endurance strength, and brings about an overall improvement in energy levels.
7. A Natural Clean Up For Cells
Astaxanthin is unique in having both hydrophillic and hydrophobic properties. This allows it to span the entire cell, with one end of the molecule protecting fat soluble part of the cell, and the other end protecting the water soluble part, making it a detoxifying agent to remove harmful chemicals and repair cell damage.
8. Sun Protection and A Healthy Glowing Skin
Photo aging is a gradual deterioration of skin structure and function following long term, recurrent exposure to sunlight or artificial uv radiation sources.
It apparently occurs as a result of cumulative DNA damage resulting from recurrent, acute DNA injury, and from the effects of chronic inflammation.
Appearance of fine and coarse wrinkles, dryness, roughness, telengiectasias (appearance of blood capillaries on skin surface as red streaks), yellowness, mottled pigmentation, laxity, loss of tensile strength, and comedones are characteristic features of sun damaged skin.
Astaxanthin acts as an internal sunscreen and protects the skin from photo damage, reduces chances of sunburn on exposure to intense sun rays, improves moisture levels, smoothness, elasticity, and reduces the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, freckles, and age spots.