Once in a while a new supplement hits the market that really makes me sit up and take notice. I first heard about astaxanthin some years ago and immediately purchased some from overseas and I have taken it every day since. Now this remarkable supplement is available in Australia, so what is this fabulous new supplement I am talking about? It�s a supplement called astaxanthin.
What is astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin is a naturally-occurring carotenoid found in algae, shrimp, lobster, crab and salmon. Carotenoids are pigment colours that occur in nature and support good health. Beta carotene, for example, is orange. Astaxanthin, dubbed the �king of the carotenoids� is red, and is responsible for turning salmon, crab, lobster and shrimp flesh pink.
Why take astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin is a potent anti inflammatory
Astaxanthin is a potent anti-inflammatory and pain reliever, blocking different chemicals in your body that make you scream �ouch!� More than that, astaxanthin reduces the inflammatory compounds that drive many chronic diseases. Astaxanthin blocks COX 2 enzymes just like your big name anti inflammatory drugs,
Astaxanthin also inhibits a whole range of inflammatory pathways and in doing so reduces several main inflammatory markers such as; CRP (C - reactive protein), interleukin 1B, prostaglandin E2 and TNF alpha (Tumour necrosis factor alpha). Studies have shown that astaxanthin reduced CRP by 20% in as little as eight weeks (3) and I would struggle to find a prescription medication that can do that.
Conditions that may benefit from astaxanthins anti inflammatory effects are arthritis, auto immune diseases, heart disease, dysmenorrhoea, acute inflammation from accident and injuries.
Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant
I am sure you have heard it before that this new product is the most amazing antioxidant, but I have to tell you Astaxanthin is unique in the world of antioxidants. Why is this, unlike other antioxidants astaxanthin is molecularly lipophilic but has hydrophilic properties meaning that is can not only reach every cell in the body whether it be a fat cell or any other cell it can actually penetrate these cells. This unique property also allows astaxanthin to cross the blood brain barrier meaning it can directly act on and protect brain cells.
This unique property makes astaxanthin more potent than most other antioxidants. A 2007 study analysed several popular antioxidants and their antioxidant power. This study found astaxanthin was 6,000 times stronger than vitamin C, 800 times stronger than CoQ10, 550 times stronger than green tea catechins and 75 times stronger than alpha lipoic acid. (1) When I read these results I knew I wanted to try this product.
Taking an antioxidant protects you from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is what initiates the production of free radicals in your body, and is a major contributor to degenerative diseases and aging.
Astaxanthin for fabulous skin and sun protection
It is touted that astaxanthin can reduce damage caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun. In fact, if you get sunburnt, which causes inflammation; astaxanthin penetrates the skin cells and reduces UVA damage. Alongside this the studies are clear and consistent and show excellent results for helping with skin moisture levels, smoothness, elasticity, fine wrinkles, and spots or freckles. 
Other uses for astaxanthin
Along with the above mentioned uses, astaxanthin can also be helpful in many other areas such as:
� Reducing cholesterol
� Reducing body fat
� Protection against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer�s and glaucoma
� Enhancing immune system function
� Enhancing general eye health and particularly useful in diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, eye strain and fatigue.
� For recovery of muscles, better endurance, enhanced strength and improved energy
Which Astaxanthin should you take?
There are a few astaxanthin products on the Australian market now and area available from most health food shops. The most common strength is 6mg of astaxanthin per capsule. When choosing the right product for you it is important that you choose a natural astaxanthin and not a synthetic product, synthetic astaxanthin is nowhere near as powerful.
What is Dunaliella?
Dunaliella salina is a type of halophile green micro-algae (phytoplankton) especially found in sea salt fields. Dunaliella is known for its antioxidant activity because of its ability to create large amount of carotenoids. (4) Carotenoids exhibit powerful antioxidant activity, protecting our body from damage.
Why take Dunaliella?
Dunaliella is extremely nutrient dense, it contains a mixture of dietary carotenoids, including high amounts of beta carotene. It also contains a vast array of other nutrients such as minerals, amino acids, vitamins, essential fatty acids, alpha carotene, lutein, Zeaxanthin, cryptoxanthin and chlorophyll. It is believed that Dunaliella is one of the richest sources of natural carotenoids. It is this high carotenoid content that gives dunaliella its antioxidant and immune boosting capability.
Who can benefit from Dunaliella?
As Dunaliella is a powerful antioxidant most anyone can benefit from taking Dunaliella. The most common uses for Dunaliella are as follows:
Healthy Vision and Eyes
Beta-carotene (and vitamin A), which Dunaliella is a rich source of promotes healthy vision and may help to prevent eye conditions and night blindness. People consuming higher amounts of carotenoids have a lower incidence of macular degeneration and cataracts.
The natural fatty acids found in Dunaliella help to keep the skin hydrated and healthy. Beta-carotene prevents oxidation that causes tissue injury, revealed on the skin�s surface as wrinkles. Supplementation with natural beta-carotene is more effective than sunscreen alone to prevent sun damage.
Healthy Immune System
Beta carotene, of which Dunaliella is a rich source, is integral for a strong immune system. I find giving dunaliella to people who are prone to respiratory illness, allergies and asthma most beneficial.
Dunaliella assists the body�s detoxification process. The beta carotene and other carotenoids found in dunaliella are vital for detoxification processes in the body. The chlorophyll content of dunaliella also helps to cleanse and alkalize the body. Dunaliella is also rich in nutrients needed for detox pathways such as selenium, sulphur and magnesium.
Where can you buy Dunaliella?
In Australia there are a few Dunaliella products available with the main one being a product called Algotene which is produced by Interclinical Laboratories. Dosage of Dunaliella is 2-6 capsules per day which equates to 1000mg-3000mg of dried Dunaliella.
Algotene along with other Dunaliella products are available in most health food shops.
Written by Lea McIntyre - Naturopath - ND BHSc
Lea has had many years of professional experience as a naturopath working with her patients and clients both in her clinic and as a senior retail naturopathic adviser. When Lea is not helping people stay well and enjoy a healthy lifestyle, she is busy caring for and nurturing her two young children.
1. Nishida Y. et. al, Quenching Activities of Common Hydrophilic and Lipophilic Antioxidants against Singlet Oxygen Using Chemiluminescence Detection System. Carotenoid Science 11:16-20 (2007).
2. Camera E, Mastrofrancesco A, Fabbri C, Daubrawa F, Picardo M, Sies H, Stahl W. Astaxanthin, canthaxanthin and beta-carotene differently affect UVA-induced oxidative damage and expression of oxidative stress- responsive enzymes. Exp Dermatol. 2009 Mar; 18 (3):222-31. Epub 2008 Sept.
3. Gene A. Spiller, PhD, Antonella Dewell, MS, RD, Sally Chaves, RN, Zaga Rakidzich. Effect of daily use natural astaxanthin on C-reactive protein. Health Research and Studies Center, Los Altos, CA. Study Report, January, 2006.
4. Oren, Aharon (2005). �A hundred years of Dunaliella research: 1905-2005�. Saline Systems 1:2. doi:10.1186/1746-1448-1-2.PMC 1224875. PMID 16176593.
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