By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
Are you ready for a day of fun in the sun? You may pack a hat, a water bottle, some toxic-free sunscreen and snacks, but did you know you can also take a supplement for a boost of internal sun protection?
Astaxanthin (pronounced asta-zan-thin) is a type of carotenoid, a compound found in foods, giving them a vibrant color via natural pigments. These pigments are found in a variety of foods (or as a supplement) and are very beneficial for human health in many ways.
Astaxanthin provides foods with a red-orange color and is a lipid-soluble pigment that can be found in salmon, lobster, krill and some algaes such as haematococcus pluvialis and yeasts phaffia rhodozyma and xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous.
Wild salmon accumulate this antioxidant via a diet rich in astaxanthin, which is said to give them the endurance they need to swim upstream. This is why wild salmon have a different color then farm-raised salmon, more of a brighter, red color.
Astaxanthin is a super antioxidant, sometimes called the “king of antioxidants,” and has been shown to reduce inflammation. It also has the ability to mop up free radicals and protects a variety of cells in the body from damage. Some evidence demonstrates that it can help reduce CRP (inflammatory marker associated with heart disease and other degenerative diseases) and tumor necrosis factor.
It has been shown to be 6,000 times more potent as an antioxidant than vitamin C.
I’ve heard many clients and testimonials that this super antioxidant helps to reduce the skin from burning, as it acts as a natural sun screen in the skin layers. The pigments help to absorb the sun damaging UV rays and protect the skin from cellular damage.
Find more foods and nutrients that help to protect your skin.
A good amount of emerging research has found that astaxanthin benefits brain health by preserving cognitive function. One study demonstrated that when supplemented with astaxanthin, it increased the formation of new brain cells and enhanced spatial memory. Current research suggests neuroprotective properties including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, as well as the potential to promote or maintain neural plasticity (healthy brain and neurological function).
Studies indicate that astaxanthin may reduce hypertension via it ability to modulate the oxidative condition and may improve vascular elastin and arterial wall thickness in hypertension. Astaxanthin has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels by up to 18% when taken as krill at 2g a day. The antioxidant benefits also have a protective heart health benefit.
Some interesting research shows that astaxanthin can reduce muscle fatigue and improve exercise endurance. Studies indicate that it improves the utilization of fat as an energy source when exercising and has been shown to reduce fatigue.
Other benefits of astaxanthin are that it can improve male fertility, improve eye health, reduce the risk of cancer, reduce joint pain and more.
Food Sources Include:
Note: It’s important to purchase fish and seafood that is sourced from local and sustainable sources whenever possible.
How much should I take?
Add a few servings of astaxanthin-rich foods into your diet per week, if this isn’t possible then supplement with 4-12mg of astaxanthin, one to three times per day with your meals. Studies have demonstrated that up to 40mg has been shown to be safe over a 12-week duration.