ASTAXANTHIN — The World's Most Powerful Antioxidant
Everything You Wanted to Know About Astaxanthin — the World's Best Antioxidant & Why It Should Be Front & Center In Your Nutritional Program
As I travel around North America and worldwide, participating on a variety of radio and television talk shows, and giving seminars and workshops on high-level wellness, antioxidants, anti-aging, balanced living, and all things related to holistic health, I am often asked about the essential role of antioxidants to healing the body and crafting vibrant health. So in this Blog, here are some questions I often receive about the need to upgrade our diets and replenish our antioxidant supply on a daily basis. To make this easy to read and follow, I'll provide you with a Q & A format from a radio interview I did on Astaxanthin on my show Dr. Susan's House Calls. To listen to the audio version, please click HERE.
1. We hear so much about the importance of antioxidants to great health and how they are essential to get rid of free radicals. Please explain what this means so everyone can understand.
From decades of research in nutrition and healthy living, I understand the importance of getting enough antioxidants in our diet, whether from food sources or supplements. To help you appreciate their integral role in being healthy, here’s a quick course in Antioxidants & Free Radicals 101.
A free radical can be defined as a toxic, unstable molecule that attacks and steals electrons from other molecules. Now these other molecules could be enzymes. Or they could be critical proteins within the cell. Or they could even be our DNA. They inflict damage in and on the cell.
Besides inflicting this health- and life-threatening damage, they also trigger chain reactions. In other words, we can have a tsunami of free radicals stealing electrons from our cellular parts. This causes the cells to become dysfunctional and die, which leads to myriad health problems. Some of these include inflammation, heart disease, autoimmune disease, cancer, and diabetes, just to name a few. Put simply, the decline in one’s health often begins with the free radical.
2. How do antioxidants help get rid of the free radicals?
The damage that free radicals cause to our cells is called oxidation. An antioxidant is a substance that stops free radicals from causing cellular damage — hence the name antioxidant. That is to say, scientists have discovered a group of natural nutrients that we now know will neutralize and mop up these free radicals. These are the health enhancing antioxidants. All of the colorful produce and legumes you eat, including berries, spinach, papaya, grapes, apples, carrots, leafy greens, beans, and tomatoes are all chock-full of antioxidants.
Most antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and others can usually only handle one free radical at a time. But there’s one antioxidant that can handle multiple free radicals simultaneously and multiple types of free radicals. It’s called Astaxanthin, and in the arena of nutritional science, it’s known worldwide as the ”King of Antioxidants.” To order the Nutrex-Hawaii Astaxanthin (and Spirulina) that I personally take daily and highly recommend in my private practice and to friends and family, BioAstin Hawaiian Astaxanthin, please call: 800-453-1187 (US & Canada) • 808-329-4677 (Intl). You'll get a 25% discount and a bonus gift (my 95-page, full color eBook, The Curative Kitchen) with each purchase when you call to purchase and use the code: VIBRANT. For detailed info, click HERE and then continue reading.
3. What is Astaxanthin and how does it compare to other antioxidants?
Astaxanthin is a blood-red plant pigment that comes from the same carotenoid family as beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein. Because astaxanthin can handle different species of free radicals and can handle multiple free radicals simultaneously, it is revered as the most powerful antioxidant on our planet earth. And it comes from nature, too.
Over 500 scientific studies have been conducted on this gem of nature. The International Carotenoid Society does excellent work on looking at different carotenoids, producing excellent data and a plethora of information on astaxanthin. In one of these reputable studies comparing astaxanthin to other well-known antioxidants, the results were eye-opening. Astaxanthin was found to be 6,000 times stronger than vitamin C, 500 times stronger than vitamin E, and 2,000 times stronger than resveratrol and quercetin. Not only that, but vitamins C and E become exhausted after handling one free radical, and they cannot go on to grab another free radical. And sometimes these depleted antioxidants proceed down the line to now become pro-oxidants. In other words, they can actually “switch teams” and become free radicals themselves, which is harmful.
Astaxanthin never ever becomes a pro-oxidant — never becomes a free radical. This is one of the reasons why we need to take vitamins, supplements, and antioxidants on a daily basis because we deplete our reserves.
4. Where does the antioxidant Astaxanthin come from?
Astaxanthin can be obtained from a few different sources, including microalgae, fungi, krill, shrimp, red trout, and salmon. Of these, the microalgae, called H. pluvialis, is the most potent, and the Hawaiian Astaxanthin from the Kona Coast of Hawaii is the one used in most of the studies because it is the best. It’s the true source — what the fish eat. That’s why going to the source is more potent and powerful than 2nd or 3rd hand microalgae sources.
5. Teach us more about microalgae. What is it?
Algae were the first plants to appear on the planet. Billions of years ago, they transformed the carbon-dioxide-based atmosphere to an oxygen-rich atmosphere in which other life forms could evolve. Most people think of algae as scummy stuff that grows in the shower. Perhaps you’ve seen the green or red stuff growing in the ocean or lakes, but, like land plants, there are countless different species of algae; algae come in different colors and sizes and provide everything from deadly toxins to potent medicines. Of the more than 30,000 species of algae, blue-green algae, such as Spirulina, are the most primitive. They contain no nucleus and their cell walls are soft and easily digested, unlike those of other plants that contain hard cellulose.
So out simply, Astaxanthin, the red plant pigment that belongs to the same carotenoid family as beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein, and gives plants and fruit their vibrant colors, can be obtained from a few sources, — microalgae being the most potent. It’s a marine microalgae called H. pluvialis.
The algae produce Astaxanthin in response to stressors such as excessive sunlight, changes in the water pH, or lack of nutrients, for example. The Astaxanthin shields the algae from the crisis, and absorbs free radicals to protect it from injury. And the Astaxanthin offers such potent antioxidant protection, these algae can survive up to 30 years without water during times of drought. Once the water reappears, the algae pops back to life. That’s the type of antioxidant capacity that these microalgae can produce with Astaxanthin. Imagine having that kind of antioxidant payload within your body. And now we can through Astaxanthin supplements from Hawaii.
6. How does the marine microalgae form of Astaxanthin compare with the other sources like salmon, krill and shrimp?
Well, this is why I prefer the marine microalgae. When you take gram per gram of these sources…
- Salmon will contain anywhere from 5-40 parts per million of Astaxanthin
- Krill contains about 120 parts per million of Astaxanthin
- Shrimp provides about 1,200 parts per million, and
- Microalgae (H. pluvialis) contains 40,000 parts per million
Now you can see why I take a supplement of Natural Astaxanthin every day. When we go right back to the original source — the original manufacturer of Astaxanthin — gram per gram — it’s 40,000 parts per million. So you see, it’s far more concentrated and it’s far more potent in the microalgae source. That’s why it’s the best choice for the source of Astaxanthin.
7. What else makes Astaxanthin earn the title of “King of Carotenoids?”
Truly, by its sheer uniqueness, the Astaxanthin molecule is very different from other carotenoids in that it positions itself across the entire cell membrane—a portion of it attaches to the exterior of the cell; a portion to the interior; and another portion spans across the entire lipid layer. Dr. Robert Corish, MD, one of the world’s leading experts in Astaxanthin says this about its uniqueness. “It offers protection on the outside of the cell from free radicals, the inside of the cell where there are free radicals being generated, and also this lipid fat layer where we always hear about lipid peroxidation. It’s perfectly designed to protect all parts of the cell,” he says. It’s really very global when it comes to cellular protection.
According to Corish, as mentioned previously and what makes it so much more powerful than vitamins C and E, Astaxanthin can handle multiple free radicals simultaneously — in some cases more than 19 at the same time, while C and E typically only handle one free radical at a time. It does this by forming an electron cloud around the molecule. This is known as the Electron Dislocation Resonance. When free radicals try to steal electrons from the Astaxanthin molecule, they’re simply absorbed into and neutralized by this electron cloud, all at once! So its harm is being diffused, and the energy is diffused as heat.
Furthermore, Astaxanthin can handle multiple types of free radicals, too, whereas certain antioxidants tend to have preferences for certain types of free radicals. Some antioxidants go after singlet oxygen free radicals, while others target nitric oxide free radicals, or peroxyl free radicals, and so on. Astaxanthin can handle multiple types of free radicals simultaneously. That’s why it’s referred to as the “King of Antioxidants.”
8. What about the safety record of Astaxanthin? Can this supplement be taken with other medications and are there any negative side effects?
This is an excellent question because it’s always important to be cognizant of side effects, even when dealing with natural substances such as Astaxanthin. Fortunately, Astaxanthin can be taken with all medications and also has a flawless safety record. No harmful side effects have been noted in any of the safety studies performed. And according to Dr. Corish, the only side affect that we’re aware of is that if you take high doses — to the tune of about 50 milligrams a day — you might get an orange hue to your skin, tantamount to what happens if you drink too much carrot juice. I’ve done that before with carrot juice, and I just cut back. But you are not going to take 50 milligrams of Astaxanthin. I recommend 12 milligrams a day to most people. Personally, I take 12-16 milligrams. Being a fat-soluble supplement, it has a propensity to go into your subcutaneous tissue. But it’s no cause for alarm. It will not harm your health in any way.
Corish says: “We know it doesn’t cause any mutagenicity, so we’re not worried about cancer. We’re not worried about reproductive toxicity. There’s no acute toxicity to the liver. It doesn’t become a vitamin A, so we don’t get vitaminosis…Plenty of definitive studies have shown that it has an excellent tolerability and safety profile…We’re very confident that we have a wonderful carotenoid without side effects.” And he has studied in depth all of the 500 scientific studies done on Astaxanthin.
9. I’d like to get more specific on some of the recommendations for Astaxanthin and heart health, chronic pain, inflammation, joint pain, eye and brain health, and also skin health. Can you briefly highlight these please?
Yes, I could talk for hours about these studies and the remarkable efficacy of Astaxanthin. But I’ll be as brief and cogent as possible.
— HEART HEALTH: In one of the many studies I read on heart health from Yoshida, Park and Fassett, it was shown that 12 mg of Astaxanthin a day can increase your HDL cholesterol (which is the good cholesterol) by 15%. It can reduce triglycerides by up to 25%. More importantly, it can reduce your C-reactive protein, (that’s a biomarker for silent systemic inflammation).
— JOINT PAIN FROM ARTHRITIS/RHEUMATOID: Studies confirm that Astaxanthin reduces nuclear factor kappa beta — the master switch for the inflammatory response. It also reduces pro-inflammatory cytokines that cause inflammation and pain. In one eye-opening study on patients with rheumatoid arthritis, giving them just 4 mg daily, there was an 85% improvement in their pain score, 60% improvement in their mobility, and almost 30% improvement in their gastrointestinal comfort. Of this group of people with rheumatoid arthritis, 60% said it was just as effective as their prescription medicines. That’s quite some power right there, and they were taking only 4 mg daily. Excellent for exercise recovery and to reduce inflammation from exercise.
— EYE HEALTH: It’s very effective for eye health indeed as Astaxanthin protects your macula and retina from free radicals — decreasing your risk of macular degeneration — the most common form of blindness. It also helps to retard the formation of cataracts. It passes through the blood retinal barrier, rare for most antioxidants. I take it daily simply to keep my eyes healthy and to prevent eye and vision problems.
Other eye problems that may benefit from Astaxanthin include: Glaucoma, Retinal arterial occlusion, Cystoid macular edema, Inflammatory eye diseases (i.e. retinitis, iritis, heratitis, and scleritis)
— BRAIN & NERVOUS SYSTEM HEALTH: Last year in the British Journal of Nutrition, there was a study on Alzheimer’s. Another property of this antioxidant is that it passes through the blood-brain barrier, too, offering us protection to the brain, the spinal cord, and the central nervous system. As you probably know, free radicals are responsible for causing strokes, cognitive decline, and dementia. So, we must have some type of antioxidant that can definitely pass in there to give us stellar protection — and Astaxanthin is this top-quality protection!
In people with dementia and Alzheimer’s, you’ll find an abnormal accumulation of hydroperoxides within red blood cells. Studies show that if you give these patients Astaxanthin at a dose of 12 mg daily, the amount of peroxides (these are harmful free radicals) is reduced
by 50%! That’s a very significant reduction.
This is one reason I take 12 mg daily. I want to have this essential nervous protection. I want cardiovascular protection and because of my active lifestyle, I want increased energy from the Astaxanthin as it protects my mitochondria.
— SKIN: Hawaiian Astaxanthin works as an internal sunscreen, says Bob Capelli, Vice President of Cyanotech. When giving 4mg to human volunteers for 2 weeks, they found that the subjects could stay in the sun longer without getting burned. It will not eliminate the risk of sunburn in everyone, because there are many individual factors involved, but it can radically reduce your risk of developing severe sunburn and related skin damage. Getting sunburned not only causes photo aging, it can also cause skin cancers, so you should always take care not to get burned. Capelli recommends taking 4mg of Astaxanthin per day. It takes several weeks for the dose to build up to achieve UV protection, and to help improve your skin’s overall moisture balance and elasticity.
We lose 40,000 skin cells every minute and it takes 2 months (8 weeks) to renew all of the skin that you see on your body. These new skin cells are made in the dermis layer of the skin, which is really the engine room of the skin. It is critical that we protect this level because it’s where the collagen fibers are. And this is where the fiber elastin bundles are. This is the connective tissue. In other words, this is the whole support system for the skin. This is where Astaxanthin tends to concentrate, too. When you take a natural supplement of Astaxanthin, it will absorb the free radicals in the layers of your skin. Keep in mind that ultraviolet-B rays create a tremendous amount of free radicals in the skin. But with this antioxidant, you can neutralize and mop up the free radicals before they can knock out these supporting structures of your skin.
And that’s why we like Astaxanthin as an antioxidant supplement. Asian ladies eat Astaxanthin up, because they’ve known about it for years. The Astaxanthin will capture these free radicals before it hits the collagen. When you keep your elastin and collagen healthy, you prevent and reduce wrinkles, according to the studies. This is a great side benefit of Astaxanthin, that women in Asia and Japan already know about. They take Astaxanthin every day! It's my favorite supplement for fostering youthful, glowing skin no matter ones age — for men and women.
— INFLAMMATION: As an antioxidant, Astaxanthin has powerful anti-inflammatory benefits, which makes it useful for a number of diseases associated with inflammation, such as arthritis. With all the studies done by Capelli, he admits that while Astaxanthin is not a cure-all, it will absolutely help with having people feel better and definitely increase mobility and also help to reduce pain from inflammation.
Capelli did studies on people with carpal tunnel syndrome with excellent results. And their subjects with tennis elbow actually made their grip strength 93% stronger in 8 weeks.
If you have arthritis or any other inflammatory conditions, it’s essential to address the foundational causes, which in many cases can be traced back to your diet, especially eating too much sugars and refined grains, which increase your insulin levels and inflammatory prostaglandins. Also, assess your fat intake, to make sure you’re getting healthful fats like the omega 3s.
10. Do you recommend Astaxanthin for those people listening who have no health issues at all and are already very healthy?
I recommend that everyone take it as a preventive, even if you are in perfect health. We are bombarded by such an amount of free radicals — the free radicals that come from the environment — those in our food, pesticides, herbicides, environmental smoke, and excessive sunlight. If I know that I’m going to be out hiking for more than a couple hours, I definitely want some protection. And Astaxanthin provides that internal protection. I think 12 mg really covers everything!
If you want to take it as a general antioxidant coverage, I believe between 4 – 8 mg will be adequate. Once again, depending on the condition that you are really trying to target, you can tailor your dose.
11. How much salmon would you need to eat to get the protective benefits of enough Astaxanthin?
According to Capelli, pretty much anything that is red in color that comes out of the sea has Astaxanthin in it. So you’re looking at shrimp, lobster, crab, and of course salmon – these have the highest concentrations. In salmon, it tends to concentrate mostly in the muscles, and so the theory is that…. that’s what gives the salmon this incredible endurance to swim upstream for weeks to spawn. It’s in trout, too. Several different fish species have it, but again, not in very big doses.
If you like wild salmon, the species that has the highest amount is called sockeye, which is common around Alaska. If you eat about ½ to ¾ of a pound, you’re going to get the same amount of Astaxanthin that you’d get in one 4mg capsule. But typically, that’s too much for most people to be eating each day, so it will be difficult to reach commonly used therapeutic does through diet alone. Also, keep in mind that the majority of salmon sold in restaurants and your local food store is farm raised, not wild-caught. The problems with farm raised salmon is that the Astaxanthin is a highly inferior synthetic version that may have still unknown toxicities.
12. When purchasing Astaxanthin, I’m sure you’ll say that the natural form is better than a chemically created synthetic one. Right?
That’s absolutely correct. Synthetic Astaxanthin is produced from petrochemicals. In studies comparing natural to synthetic Astaxanthin, according to Capelli, there is a remarkable difference in all sorts of things like immunity, disease resistance, growth rates, strength, and more. So always choose a natural form of Astaxanthin, and the one I recommend comes from the Kona Coast of Hawaii and is manufactured by the Nutrex-Hawaii Company, and known to be the best and purist source in the world. Visit the homepage of my website for more information and on how to purchase it at a discount.
13. You told me off-air that you take extra milligrams of the antioxidant Astaxanthin when you fly. Why do you do that?
When you fly, you are being exposed to free radicals and radiation in the plane, they discovered in studies. In some of the studies, they measured people’s vitamin C levels before they got on the flight and after they landed. When the subjects got to their destination, across the board, their vitamin C levels were completely depleted. This shows that their vitamin C was being depleted during that flight for protection. But we know now that Astaxanthin is 6,000 times more potent than vitamin C, so that’s why I make sure to take extra before a flight.
14. You’ve mentioned how good this antioxidant is for adults. But is it okay and safe to give to children and pregnant women?
According to Drs. Corish and Mercola, it’s not recommended for pregnant women not because they think it does any harm. But you just don’t want to experiment with young children and mothers-to-be, even though many animal studies have found it perfectly safe when they gave 2000 mg per kilogram with no maternal effects on the fetus. And children do not have fully developed kidneys until they’re 7 or 8 years of age. So Dr. Corish doesn’t recommend Astaxanthin for children under 10, even though he mentioned that he started giving it to his children at age 8 with absolutely no harmful effects. If I had a 10-year-old child, I would give him or her 4 mg daily.
15. Let’s summarize this discussion on Astaxanthin. Please talk again about how many milligrams you take and recommend, the best one to get, and how to get a discount.
I recommend it for everyone above age 10, and especially for all adults. You might want to start with 4 mg and work your way up to about 12 mg over the first month. If you are an athlete or suffering from chronic inflammation or other health ailments mentioned previously, you definitely want to maintain 12 mg daily after the first month. Keep in mind that the Astaxanthin from microalgae is the most potent source by far and the one I recommend by Nutrex-Hawaii. It’s a natural source called Natural Hawaiian BioAstin Astaxanthin.
Take it with meals that have some fat in them, since it’s a fat-soluble supplement. Remember that it takes about 3 months to fully saturate your body, so I encourage you to get a 3-month supply. It has absolutely NO side effects and is a very powerful antioxidant that we all need in our bodies.
Experience it for yourself. Everyone I know that takes this Hawaiian BioAstin Astaxanthin feels the difference. But you’ll also see the difference in how your skin looks, too.
The Nike slogan says, “Just Do It!” And I agree. Step up to the plate and take your position as the CEO and president of your body, health and life. Get daily exercise, eat a healthy diet, keep your stress levels down, get ample sleep, reduce inflammation, and take this powerful antioxidant we’ve talked about today. It’s the most powerful antioxidant that I’ve ever come across and the world’s leading experts on it such as Drs, Joseph Mercola and Robert Corish, and Bob Capelli would agree.
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