History: Astaxanthin (pronounced asta-ZAN-thin) was discovered in 1972 by British professor Basil Weedon. He subsequently published a paper identifying astaxanthin as the red carotenoid found in Scottish salmon, responsible for the salmon’s pink color. However when a salmon is born, it is actually white on the inside. It only turns pink due to the fact that it consumes algae. Astaxanthin is actually produced from the microalgae “haematococcus pluvialis,” and is thought to be the most potent antioxidant nature has to offer. Astaxanthin is a member of a select group of carotenoids known as xanthophylls. Xanthophylls are at the top of the carotenoid’s pyramid of effectiveness, and astaxanthin is at the top of the xanthophylls. To give you an idea of the antioxidant power of astaxanthin, it is over 500 times stronger than vitamin E, and nearly 6,000 times stronger than vitamin C.
Mode Of Action: It is astaxanthin’s molecular structure that makes it such a superior antioxidant, but not only that, this remarkable carotenoid functions through many other mechanisms of action, achieving cell membrane protection, immune protection, and broad spectrum protection against degenerative diseases in general. Astaxanthin also crosses the blood-brain barrier, where its powerful antioxidant actions reduce the effects of free radicals in the brain, thereby protecting against cell damage and neurological dysfunction. This remarkable antioxidant also functions as a potent anti-inflammatory, and has been shown to act on several different inflammation pathways in the body.
Anti-Aging / Life Extension Benefits: Supplementing with astaxanthin can have a host of anti-aging health benefits. Here are the main ones:
1. Neurologically, astaxanthin can help slow age-related cognitive decline by protecting neurons and decreasing the accumulation of phospholipid hydroperoxides, a compound that is found in higher levels in dementia patients and those suffering general age-related forgetfulness.
2. With regard to eye health, astaxanthin accumulates in the retina, providing protection from age-related macular degeneration.
3. Astaxanthin has also been shown to provide a useful degree of UV protection, and its natural carotenoid pigments can also add a healthy glow to the skin. Several studies have also shown beneficial effects in relation to wrinkles and moisture levels.
4. Heart health also receives some useful benefits, as astaxanthin has been shown to improve blood flow, decrease blood pressure, increase HDL (the good cholesterol), and decrease triglycerides. Astaxanthin obviously has some amazing benefits, and it is certainly one of the most important natural supplements you can take.
Side Effects: There are no known adverse side effects connected with astaxanthin supplementation. Even at extreme high dosages, there is no known toxicity other than the possibility of skin pigmentation, which is reversible on cessation. There is however absolutely no point in taking any more than 4mg of astaxanthin daily. Astaxanthin bioaccumulates in the body, reaches a particular level, then stops accumulating and simply maintains that highly beneficial level. By taking 4mg per day, it will probably take around 2 weeks to reach such a level, at which point 4mg will easily maintain it. Taking up to 12mg per day, as some so called experts are recommending, would simply be a waste of money and would result in no additional health benefits.
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