Astaxanthin (as-tuh-ZAN-thin) is the most powerful antioxidant you’ve probably never heard of. It’s a carotenoid, like beta carotene, but with a bright red pigment. While most antioxidants we know come from colorful fruits and vegetables, astaxanthin comes from freshwater microalgae. We don’t eat this algae, but certain fish do — it’s what gives salmon and shellfish their red-orange color.
These fish are the only source of astaxanthin in our diet — and that’s a loss. Because astaxanthin has antioxidant powers that are virtually unmatched in nature. Antioxidants protect the body against the effects of oxidative stress — one of the primary causes of physical aging. A little extra antioxidant power can go a long way toward slowing those aging effects.
How Antioxidants Fights Aging Effects
The simple act of living every day takes its toll on the body. Daily stresses, environmental toxins, UV radiation from sunlight, and even the byproducts of our own metabolism produce free radicals that gradually build up in the body, generating oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress has a corrosive effect on cells, much the same way that oxidation rusts metal. It damages lipids, proteins, and DNA, triggering many of the signs and symptoms of aging. But antioxidants do just what they sound like — they work against the oxidation of cells, protecting them from damage to prevent accelerated aging effects.
Take those salmon, for instance. When salmon make their arduous migration upstream to spawn, they exert tremendous energy while being exposed to harsh environmental conditions, like intense UV rays penetrating the shallow waters. Research suggests that without astaxanthin to protect their omega-3 fatty acids from this oxidative spike, the salmon would probably never survive the trip.
In today’s world, we are also being exposed to increasing levels of oxidative stress, thanks to inescapable environmental toxins and lifestyle pressures that have turned stress into a chronic condition for many of us. Even though our bodies naturally produce antioxidants, these natural defenses simply can’t compete against the current onslaught of free radicals. We need more antioxidant power to fight back against these influences and keep us from aging too fast.
Astaxanthin to the Rescue
Super antioxidants like green tea, resveratrol, alpha lipoic acid, and vitamins C and E have become increasingly popular in natural health and beauty products for their anti-aging effects. But astaxanthin blows these away.
In a 2007 study that compared different antioxidants for their ability to quench singlet oxygen molecules, astaxanthin was shown to be 500 times stronger than vitamin E, 560 times stronger than green tea catechins, 3000 times stronger than resveratrol, and 8000 times stronger than vitamin C!
What makes astaxanthin so much more powerful than other antioxidants? Astaxanthin has some unique characteristics:
- Astaxanthin is both water-soluble and fat-soluble. This means that it can protect the entire cell — both inner and outer layers of the cell membrane — unlike other carotenoids, which can only protect either the water-soluble part or the fat-soluble part of the cell.
- Astaxanthin is a pure antioxidant, which means that it can never turn pro-oxidant in the body. This is not true for all antioxidants. It also means that you can take high levels of astaxanthin without risk of toxicity.
- Astaxanthin remains active in the body much longer than other antioxidants. This is because it has a surplus of free electrons that it can use to neutralize free radicals — without instantly becoming depleted, like other antioxidants.
- Astaxanthin can fight multiple free radicals at once — unlike other antioxidants, which can typically handle just one at a time.
- Astaxanthin can cross both the blood-brain barrier and the blood-retinal barrier, offering superior protection for the brain and eyes, which many other antioxidants cannot.
- Astaxanthin acts upon multiple inflammation pathways to support a healthy inflammation response. Chronic inflammation is considered another major cause of aging, along with oxidative stress.
Astaxanthin is particularly powerful for protection against skin aging. Because it can cover all sides of a cell membrane, it can work throughout all layers of the skin (whereas vitamin E only works on the inside layer, and vitamin C on the outside layer of the membrane.) Astaxanthin also fights the damaging effects of inflammation, and works as an internal sunscreen to protect skin from UV rays.
This is why we chose astaxanthin as the featured ingredient in our Hair, Skin & Nails Multivitamin. And since we always go for the best quality, we chose AstaReal Astaxanthin, which comes backed by clinical studies.
AstaReal has been shown to rejuvenate skin from within by quenching oxidative stress and inflammation in all skin layers, reducing wrinkles and age spots, and improving skin elasticity by strengthening the collagen layer.
If you want to experience the natural beauty benefits of astaxanthin, check out our Hair, Skin & Nails Multivitamins for both men and women! We’ve also included astaxanthin in our anti-aging supplement: Ashwagandha for Healthy Aging.