Astaxanthin is a red pigment that belongs to the carotenoid family, like beta-carotene (β-carotene). It is found naturally in seafood such as crustaceans (shrimp and crab) and fish (salmon and seabream).
Recently, it has been identified as having antioxidant activity against lipid peroxidation up to 100 times more potent than vitamin E. When it comes to singlet oxygen quenching, it is about 40 times more potent than β-carotene. Astaxanthin's main action is on and in cell membranes and does not show any pro-oxidant activity.
There are several important benefits associated with astaxanthin, including:
• immunomodulation (altering an immune response to a desired level),
• reducing stress,
• reducing inflammation,
• suppressing LDL cholesterol oxidation,
• enhancing skin health,
• improving semen quality,
• attenuating eye fatigue,
• improving sport performance and endurance,
• limiting exercise-induced muscle damage and
• suppressing the development of lifestyle related diseases such as obesity, atherosclerosis, diabetes, hyperlipidemia and hypertension.
Clinicians use astaxanthin extracted from Haematococcus pluvialis microalgae. It serves as a supplementary treatment for heart failure, benign prostatic hypertrophy and lower urinary tract symptoms. The effectiveness of astaxanthin in the treatment of chronic diseases such as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, diabetes and cardiovascular disease is being researched. We may call astaxanthin a “medical food” in the near future.
The major benefits of astaxanthin are that it is a powerful, safe antioxidant which assumes a superior position in the cell membrane.
Several studies have demonstrated that astaxanthin has health-promoting effects in the prevention and treatment of cancers, chronic inflammatory diseases, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, diabetic nephropathy, cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal diseases, liver diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, eye diseases, skin diseases, exercise-induced fatigue and male infertility.