It is a pigment that brings the dark red/orange color to many of our favorite foods, including orange and red fruits and vegetables, dark leafy greens and wild salmon. It also is found in algae, krill, red trout, shrimp, lobster and crab, giving these marine plants and animals their coloring. This pigment is astaxanthin, and it turns out it does much more than just bring color into our lives. Astaxanthin is a powerful carotenoid antioxidant that affects your health on a cellular level. Read on to see the many benefits of astaxanthin, and see whether this colorful pigment could restore your health!
Yep, you read that right… astaxanthin functions as a natural sunscreen for marine plants! Astaxanthin is able to absorb solar radiation, and this amazing property is why researchers originally started studying astaxanthin as a topical sunscreen. While it can serve this function, researchers began to realize that astaxanthin could shield other, internal, areas from free radicals. Astaxanthin can protect the deeper layers of the skin that topical sunscreens can’t touch, and can protect against UV radiation. Since astaxanthin can work on these deeper skin levels, studies have been done to demonstrate its efficacy on wrinkles and other aging concerns.
Astaxanthin is a carotenoid, a group of antioxidants distinguished by their red and orange pigments. Carotenoids can protect against cellular damage, aging, and fight disease. We have all heard that we should “eat the rainbow” when it comes to incorporating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables into our diets. This is especially important with carotenoids because they cannot be synthesized by humans, and diet is the only way to obtain these powerful antioxidants. There are over 600 known carotenoids, including beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, and astaxanthin. Carotenoids have been linked to maintaining eye, cardiovascular, fertility and skin health. Astaxanthin is just one carotenoid that can help you achieve health and wellness.
Okay, so astaxanthin is an antioxidant; why does this matter? Oxidants are free radicals that are in the environment, and can also be produced in the body. The body produces these free radicals to help fight off viruses and microbes, but having too many in your body can lead to damage, cancer and disease. We encounter oxidants every day through cigarette smoke, alcohol and air pollution. So oxidants can be bad, and antioxidants can help! Antioxidants work to protect cells and prevent oxidation of molecules. While our bodies produce antioxidants, if they do not produce enough to fight off all of the free radicals in our bodies, damage can occur. Taking an antioxidant supplement, such as astaxanthin, can help fight those free radicals and bring balance and health to the body.
King of Carotenoids
If there are so many carotenoids that have antioxidant properties, why focus on astaxanthin? Astaxanthin has been dubbed “king of carotenoids” because it is one of the most powerful antioxidants to be found in nature. While other antioxidants can sometimes become harmful oxidants in the body, astaxanthin never becomes a pro-oxidant, and is always doing good in the body. Astaxanthin not only is fighting free radicals in the body, but it also protects cells against oxidation. Astaxanthin is able to scavenge for lipids and free radicals, and can break up peroxide chain reactions.
The Power of Astaxanthin
Okay, we have covered where astaxanthin comes from and that it can protect our bodies on a cellular level. How can this powerful, free-radical fighting antioxidant help our health?
Our immune system is regularly patrolling our bodies looking for infection, but when it is over-activated it can trigger allergic responses and even autoimmune diseases. Studies have shown that astaxanthin can help balance the immune system and stimulate the good, infection-fighting responses while suppressing inflammation from allergic responses. An increase in white blood cells help the body fight off infections, and astaxanthin has been shown to boost the levels of these lymphocytes in the body.
Carotenoids have been linked with a lower cancer risk, and astaxanthin is part of this powerful, disease-fighting group. The properties in astaxanthin can prevent and protect against cancers by fighting at a cellular level at each stage of disease progression. It can protect DNA from oxidant damage, detect and destroy malignant cells and block cell replication in tumors. Cancer has become a widespread problem in the human population, and astaxanthin may hold some of the keys to prevention and healing.
Unlike some other antioxidant molecules, astaxanthin crosses the blood-brain barrier and can affect brain tissue. Astaxanthin has been called a “natural brain food” and affects the oxidation of brain cells that lead to diminished brain function as seen in both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration are all culprits of eye problems, and are more common as we age. Human retinas contain carotenoids, and supplementing with astaxanthin may be a way to boost eye health and protect against disease.
Diabetes and Obesity
Because astaxanthin can reduce oxidant stress and inflammation, studies are being done to test the astaxanthin as it relates to metabolic function. In animals, astaxanthin has been shown to prevent weight gain and lower blood glucose levels; if these same results are found in humans, astaxanthin could be a powerful ally in fighting our population’s rising levels of both obesity and diabetes.
Researchers stumbled on the amazing properties of astaxanthin while studying how marine plants were protected from the sun, and now the many benefits of this antioxidant are being shown in the human body. If you are looking to supplement your diet, or are thinking of detoxing, an astaxanthin supplement could be what you need. Living Spheres is committed to helping you along your journey for better health, and our NanoVite Life supplement contains astaxanthin because of its powerful antioxidant properties. If incorporating an antioxidant that can boost your immune system, decrease inflammation, block ultraviolet radiation and reduce glycation of cells is something you feel could benefit your health, contact us to start incorporating NanoVite into your health regimen today!