Health & Wellness

How to Look Younger? Take Astaxanthin for 2 Weeks

Astaxanthin… Sun Protection and Wrinkle Prevention!

25 September 2018

Article summary

  • There are more than 700 natural carotenoids, but most people only know a few of them
  • Astaxanthin has recently jumped to the top of the list because of its status as a “supernutrient”, becoming the focus of a large and growing number of scientific studies analysed by experts
  • One of the benefits promoted by astaxanthin that has piqued the interest of researchers is its ability to help protect the skin from the sun, reducing the signs of ageing

By Dr. Mercola

  • Sunscreen in a pill?
  • Preventing wrinkles, dry skin, age spots and freckles?
  • Reversing visible signs of ageing?

If you think that something capable of doing all of the above is too good to be true, you’re not alone.

But as it happens, there is a natural compound that clinical studies are suggesting fulfils ALL of the above – without having a high price tag or side effects. This is a little miracle that your plastic surgeon won’t want you to know about.

It’s a relatively unknown carotenoid called astaxanthin, currently considered the most potent antioxidant nature has to offer.
Scientists discovered a long time ago that a class of natural pigments called carotenoids contained powerful antioxidant properties crucial to health.

Carotenoids are compounds that give foods their vibrant colours – from the green of grass to the red of beetroot, to the spectacular yellows and oranges of peppers. There are more than 700 naturally occurring carotenoids, but most people only know a few. Right now, you probably have around ten different carotenoids circulating through your bloodstream.

As a source of antioxidants and vitamin A, carotenoids are critical to the photosynthetic process and protect a plant or organism from damage caused by light and oxygen. By consuming vegetables or organisms that contain these pigments, you get a similar protective benefit.

Astaxanthin has recently jumped to the top of the list because of its status as a “supernutrient”, becoming the focus of a large and growing number of scientific studies analysed by experts.

One of the benefits of astaxanthin that has piqued the interest of researchers is its ability to help protect the skin from the sun, reducing the signs of ageing.

Astaxanthin is Superior to All Others

Astaxanthin is only produced by the microalga Haematococcus pluvialis when its water supply dries up, forcing it to protect itself from ultraviolet radiation. It’s the algae’s survival mechanism – astaxanthin serves as a “force field” to protect the algae from lack of nutrition and/or intense sunlight.

Many carotenoids are easily obtained through a good diet rich in fresh organic produce. However, this powerful carotenoid is more difficult to find. There are only two main sources of astaxanthin – the microalgae that produce it and the marine creatures that consume the algae (such as salmon, shellfish and krill).

Astaxanthin is the reason why salmon have the strength and endurance to swim through rivers and waterfalls for days on end – their diets are rich in this pigment, which concentrates in their muscles and makes them one of the “endurance kings” of the animal kingdom.

This pigment is the most commonly occurring red carotenoid in marine and aquatic animals and is what gives salmon and pink flamingos their characteristic pink colour. Most people don’t realise that flamingo chicks are born white and don’t turn pink until they receive astaxanthin, mainly from shrimp and seaweed.

Astaxanthin is much more powerful than beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol, lycopene and lutein, other members of its chemical family. It demonstrates VERY STRONG free radical scavenging activity and protects your cells, organs and body tissues against oxidative damage.

Astaxanthin’s unique “antioxidant artillery” provides an impressive range of health benefits, including improving cardiovascular health, stabilising blood sugar levels, stimulating the immune system, fighting cancer, reducing inflammation, improving eye health and enhancing your athletic abilities.

What Makes Astaxanthin Special?

  • Astaxanthin is by far the most powerful carotenoid antioxidant when it comes to eliminating free radicals – astaxanthin is 65 times more powerful than vitamin C, 54 times more powerful than beta-carotene, and 14 times more powerful than vitamin E.
  • Astaxanthin is much more effective than other carotenoids at “quenching singlet oxygen,” which is a particular type of oxidation. The damaging effects of sunlight and various organic materials are caused by this less stable form of oxygen. Astaxanthin is 550 times more potent than vitamin E and 11 times more potent than beta-carotene in neutralising singlet oxygen.
  • Astaxanthin crosses the blood-brain barrier and the blood-retinal barrier (beta-carotene and lycopene do not), which brings antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection to the eyes, brain and central nervous system and reduces the risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, blindness, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Astaxanthin is soluble in lipids, so it is incorporated into cell membranes.
  • It is a powerful UVB absorber and reduces DNA damage.
  • It is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory. How about some more great news?
  • There have been no adverse reactions in people consuming astaxanthin

Sunburn is Inflammation

If you’re physically active, you probably spend a lot of time in the sun. The sun offers enormous benefits for you in terms of vitamin D. But too much of it can harm you.

Many athletes complain of feeling unwell from excessive exposure to the sun after long training sessions in the open air. However, many report that astaxanthin allowed them to stay in the sun for longer without feeling unwell or getting burnt. Fewer burns also means a lower risk of skin cancer.

Haematococcus pluvialis protects itself from intense ultraviolet radiation by producing astaxanthin as a natural sunscreen. When you consume this pigment, you are creating your own “internal sunscreen”. In other words, the same powerful antioxidants that protect algae from the sun’s rays can also help protect you.

Sunburn is actually an inflammatory process. Although the exact way in which astaxanthin protects the skin from burning is not yet known, it is almost certain that its anti-inflammatory properties are involved.

Astaxanthin as an Internal Sun Protector

In addition to various testimonials and evidence, scientific studies have substantiated these skin-protective effects.

Cyanotech Corporation funded a study through an independent consumer research laboratory to measure the skin’s resistance to UVA and UVB light before and after astaxanthin supplementation.

The result was that in just three weeks of taking 4 mg a day, subjects showed a significant increase in the amount of time needed for UV radiation to redden the skin.

Helps Prevent Collagen Damage, Wrinkles, Freckles and Age Spots

But astaxanthin may not even need to be ingested to protect you from the sun. In 2001, Arakane carried out a study with hairless mice to investigate whether or not astaxanthin offered topical benefits.

The mice were exposed to UVB radiation for 18 weeks to simulate ageing skin. The mice that had astaxanthin applied to their skin showed a reduction in wrinkles compared to the control group, as well as younger collagen. In fact, the collagen of the mice that took astaxanthin appeared never to have been exposed to radiation.

The researchers concluded that astaxanthin “can significantly prevent UV-induced collagen degradation, wrinkles, lipid peroxidation, sunburn, phototoxicity and photoallergy”.

The same study also concluded that topical astaxanthin can act as an effective “skin lightening agent”, a tremendously popular trend in Asia. Astaxanthin was found to be able to reduce melanin by 40 per cent, greatly reducing freckles and age spots.

Beauty from Within

Although it seems that astaxanthin does indeed offer topical benefits, its greatest benefits are reaped when consuming astaxanthin internally.

There have been three studies showing that consuming astaxanthin can improve appearance. All of these studies combine astaxanthin with other substances, such as omega-3 fatty acids or vitamin E, but all three had positive results when astaxanthin was present.

1. In Japan, a study was carried out in 2002 by Yamashita with women aged around 40 who consumed 2mg of astaxanthin a day for four weeks. The researchers were surprised that after just two weeks, almost every aspect of the women’s skin improved; after 4 weeks, there were even more improvements. [Yamashita, E. (2002). “Cosmetic Benefit of Dietary Supplements Containing Astaxanthin and Tocotrienol on Human Skin”. Food Style. 21 6(6):112-17]

The benefits included less fine lines, better hydration, greater skin tone and elasticity, smoother surface, fewer freckles and less puffiness under the eyes.

2. In 2003, a Canadian study involved women aged between 35 and 55 who consumed astaxanthin combined with omega-3 fatty acids and marine glycosaminoglycans. They were divided into three groups using different combinations of these agents, all showing improvements in the areas measured.

Due to the study’s design, researchers were limited in the conclusions they could reach, but said it was clear that astaxanthin offers benefits as an internal beauty supplement.

3. The third study was carried out in Europe and was similar to the Japanese study discussed above. However, the subjects were given 5mg a day of astaxanthin, along with two other ingredients. The treated subjects showed improvements in fine lines, an increase in dermis density of up to 78 per cent and a visible improvement in the overall appearance of the skin.

Can Eating Coloured Vegetables Make You More Attractive and Help You Find a Mate?

One of the most interesting studies to date was led by Dr Ian Stephen from the University of Nottingham who investigated which skin tones were considered healthier and more attractive for humans. He discovered that red and yellow skin tones make you more attractive.

People take on redder tones when they are full of blood, particularly if the blood has a lot of oxygen, and from a biological/anthropological point of view, this signals health and vitality.

Scientists believed that we evolved to select potential partners whose appearance indicated good health. According to the study’s co-author, Dr David Perrett:

This is something we share with many other species. For example, the bright yellow beaks and feathers of many birds can be considered adverts that show how healthy a male bird is. In addition, the females of these species prefer to mate with brighter and more colourful males. But this is the first study in which this has been demonstrated in humans.

Together, our studies link skin carotenoid colouration to the perception of healthy health and diet, establishing carotenoid colouration as a valid way for human health to be perceived in a way that is relevant to mate choice, as it is in bird and fish species.

Looking Healthier than a Tan!

And this is one of its key aspects…

Dr Stephen concluded that, given the choice between a tanned skin colour and the skin colour caused by carotenoids, people preferred the carotenoid skin colour.

So if you want to be more physically attractive, make sure you take a regular source of astaxanthin. Not only will this allow you to look healthier, but it will also help protect you when you’re tanning and optimise your vitamin D levels.

Make sure your Astaxanthin is Natural from Seaweed – NOT Synthetic

Synthetic astaxanthin (manufactured in a laboratory) is now commonly used around the world to supplement fish feed in order to achieve the desired pink to red-orange colour. You should really avoid synthetic astaxanthin because it is made from petrochemicals.

Some aquaculture companies are starting to use natural astaxanthin instead of synthetic, even though it costs more, because it is better for the animals’ health, and is far superior for pigmentation. Animals fed fish food with natural astaxanthin have higher survival rates, better growth rates, better immunity, fertility and reproduction.

Unfortunately, synthetic astaxanthin still dominates the global farmed salmon industry.

If the label on the salmon you buy isn’t “wild” or “naturally coloured”, you’re probably consuming a colouring agent that’s a little closer to motor oil than an antioxidant. Natural astaxanthin is more than 20 times stronger as an antioxidant than synthetic astaxanthin.

Wild salmon is 400% richer in astaxanthin than farmed salmon, and 100% of its pigment is natural astaxanthin, rather than synthetic. In addition, wild salmon has much higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids than the farmed version. But even if you are successful in buying genuine wild salmon, there is a problem with high levels of mercury and other unwanted toxins, not to mention exorbitant prices.

Final Recommendations 

If you decide to try astaxanthin, I recommend starting with at least 4 mg a day. I’ve been taking 8 mg a day this year. Krill has some astaxanthin, but not enough to provide full benefits.

One thought on “How to Look Younger? Take Astaxanthin for 2 Weeks

  1. Maria says:

    Buenas! Me interesa mucho toda esta información, por cierta muy buena. Yo empecé a tomar alimentos ricos en astaxantina como el salmón. Pero me di cuenta que el que suelen vender en los supermercados son de piscifactorías y la astaxantina que contiene es sintética (y con una actividad antioxidante mucho menor). Es a partir de aqui cuando empecé a plantearme comprar mejor suplementación. Lo recomiendo a todo el mundo. Yo se lo doy hasta a mi hijo de 3 años. Un saludo y gracias

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.