Vitamin supplements guide   Vitamins & health supplements guide

Astaxanthin quick review
Description: a carotenoid, the principal pigment that gives salmonids their pink colour.
Health benefits: strong antioxidant, prevents lipid peroxidation, reduces oxidative damage, improves memory in vascular dementia.


Astaxanthin belongs to a group of pigments (colouring agents) called carotenoids. It is the principal pigment that gives salmonids
their pink colour. It is produced for addition into fish feed in the latter part of the production cycle to ensure a good flesh colour. Astaxanthin is in the class of phytonutrients known as carotenoids, the best known carotenoid is beta-carotene. Astaxanthin is similar in structure with beta-carotene. Other carotenoids include lutein and lycopene. Astaxanthin is another significant and potent carotenoid. Astaxanthin isolated from crustacean wastes or produced synthetically. Astaxanthin can also be farmed from unicellular green alga called Haematococcus pluvialis or certain types of yeast and then prepared for commercial use.

Astaxanthin is the major carotenoid responsible for the pink-red pigmentation of fish and shrimps. Asthaxanthin is an important element of the feed chain of wild and farmed salmon and shrimp. This microalgae is part of the diet of fish or crustaceans and is responsible of the pink coloration in their flesh, through the ingestion of astaxanthin. Astaxanthin benefits fish and shellfish in several ways, including protection against oxidation of essential polyunsaturated fatty acids, protection against the effects of ultra violet light, enhanced immune response and improved reproduction.


A powerful antioxidant

Astaxanthin performs all three of the key antioxidant tasks including quenching, scavenging, and trapping free radicals, and enhances the activity of other antioxidant nutrients. Astaxanthin provides a greater protection of the cellular membranes than β-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E. Astaxanthin neutralises free radicals as it traps them inside its structure. Astaxanthin traps more kinds of free radicals, including singlet and triplet oxygen. Its antioxidant activity is far higher than vitamin E and β-carotene. Astaxanthin is a strong antioxidant that appears to enhance the immune system and protect against cancer. It also may protect against UVA light, a wavelength of ultraviolet light that can cause sunburn and skin cancer. It stabilizes free radicals by adding them to its long double-bonded chain, rather than sacrificing an atom or electron. And it is absorbed by the mucosa in the small intestine and transported to the liver where it binds with a lipoprotein and is efficiently transported throughout the body.


Health benefits of astaxanthin

Astaxanthin has been claimed to be ten times more effective than beta carotene and 100 times more effective than vitamin E in preventing lipid peroxidation. Astaxanthin protects the cellular and mitochondrial membranes and the ocular tissues against the photo-oxidative damage to DNA, involved in AMD pathogenesis. Carotenoids can help protect the retina from oxidative damage. The free radical scavenging activity of astaxanthin protects lipids from peroxidation and reduces oxidative damage of LDL-cholesterol (thereby reducing arterial plaque formation), cells, cell membranes, mitochondrial membranes. Astaxanthin increases strength and endurance. Astaxanthin is one of those important carotenoids and might be beneficial for nerve damage associated with age-related macular degeneration. Astaxanthin may easily cross the blood brain barrier and could have antioxidant effects in the brain. Astaxanthin might exert beneficial effects in protection against hypertension and stroke, and could improve memory in vascular dementia. Astaxanthin has a peculiar chemical structure. Astaxanthin enhances the cellular membranes stability as it locates crosswise inside them.