While I am a few days late on the #AtoZChallenge, but there is still plenty of the days in the month that I will not miss out on this fun opportunity to blog my way through the alphabet on vitamins, minerals and herbs. I am excited to share with you some really great info this month on one of my favorite topics and the importance to know the difference between quality supplements and synthetic ones. Let’s go ahead and get started with the letter A, is for Astaxanthin.
I first read about this super antioxidant on Dr. Mercola’s website. He is someone I have been following for over a decade now. What I have learned about this amazing antioxidant is it’s ability to support the body in many unique ways.
Where is Astaxanthin found?
Astaxanthin is found naturally in orange and red fruits and vegetables as well as dark leafy greens, but mostly from lobster, crab, crawfish, Wild Pacific sockeye salmon, red trout, red sea bream, algae, krill and arctic shrimp. Wild Pacific sockeye salmon is the best source. This is because astaxanthin is found predominantly in marine life. A unique form of microalgae called,Haematococcus pluvialis is what these particular Pacific marine life eat. Once this micro algae is consumed, its intense red pigmentation results in these animals having red or pink flesh, or outer shells. (Fun Fact: While we don’t eat flamingos, they are born white, but turn pink because they eat foods with astaxanthin).
What is Astaxanthin good for?
It is literally good for every cell in your body from head to toe. It has been touted to INTO your muscles, your heart, your eyes, your skin and helps support and protect your cells to keep inflammation at bay, the same way it protects the algae cells. It works in and out of the the cell, protecting both the fat-soluble and the water-soluble parts of cells. This is a big deal since most antioxidants only protect one or the other.
How powerful is Astaxanthin?
It’s a potent Ultra Violet B absorber and reduces DNA damage. In fact, some Hollywood actresses use this as their natural sunscreen protection. Eating fruits and vegetables that are rich in red and orange color helps protect the skin from UVB damage. UVB from the sun is what makes the skin burn, hence eating foods rich in red and orange keep the skin from burning. (this is why the cleaner and healthier your diet, the less you are likely to burn)
It crosses the crosses the blood-brain barrier AND the blood-retinal barrier. Beta-carotene alone cannot cross over. It is important for both young and old alike to protect their brain from free radical damage. Our brains are made up of 75 percent water and is the fattest organ in your body, consisting of at least 60 percent fat. Our brains uses 20 percent of the total oxygen in your body. Eating good fats and antioxidants that actually crosses both barriers to support a healthy response is vital to keep our brain from many aging diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Let’s not forget eye health such as macular degeneration, while supporting your entire central nervous system.
Astaxanthin studies are showing that daily supplementation is ideal for those wishing to prevent cognitive diseases and maintain general brain health and has numberous benefits for those wishing to protect their brains as they age, specifically after the age of 40.
Watch out for the imposturs:
While research is still going to show how beneficial astaxanthin is for our entire bodies, there are always companies out there looking to alter it in a lab. Don’t be fooled, this happens with just about every supplement out there. Synthetic astaxanthin is synthesized from petrochemicals in a factory. Ewww….and guess what? Farm-raised salmon are fed synthetic version to give it that pink color, however, we know it does not reap the same benefits of being in the wild, swimming freely eating the true algae. The molecular structure of the true form and fake one is vastly different and does not work in the cells as it should. I mean, why mess with Mother Nature? The biggest takeaway between a real form vs a synthetic version is its ORAC testing:
A company I have found to trust is this company that sources their astaxanthin in the Pacific near Hawaii.
Recommended Intake and Optimal Timing:
It is best to take 4mg per day and up to 12mg per day for anyone over 40 and should be included as part of a complex of mixed diet of carotenoids (bright red, orange and yellow organic produce) Since astaxanthin is fat soluble, it works better when you take it with a high quality fish oil supplement.