Astaxanthin is a pigment of the carotenoid complex found in the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis present in Bio-Algae Concentrates. It is an oxygenated pigment called a xanthophyll. Its unique molecular structure gives it a superior antioxidant capacity.
Astaxanthin is most effective against Lipoperoxidation in membrane models
Astaxanthin is 20 to 40 times more effective as an antioxidant than beta-carotene, up to 500 times more effective in inhibiting lipid peroxidation than Vitamin C, up to 1000 times more effective in inhibiting lipid peroxidation than Vitamin E, has greater anti-inflammatory capability than Vitamin E, has almost 4 times the antioxidant capacity of lutein, provides superior protection against UVA and UVB light-induced oxidative stress, is more stable in scavenging and quenching than beta-carotene, canthaxanthin and zeaxanthin, is highly potent in enhancing T1 and T2 helper cells and IgM and IgG (secondary immunity) production, is more effective than lycopene and lutein in enhancing liver microsome detoxification activity (enzymes that metabolize drugs), enhances the actions of Vitamins C and E in the body, and enhances the release of retinol (Vitamin A) from the liver when needed.
Those benefits described so far warrant astaxanthin’s nick name “the King of Carotenoids”, but there is more, read on.
There is a substantial body of literature including in vitro studies, preclinical studies and several human clinical trials that show that astaxanthin, with its unique molecular structure and resulting potent antioxidant activity, may be an effective therapeutic modality for a variety of conditions, including cardiovascular, immune, anti-inflammatory, and neurodegenerative disorders.
Independent of the Soviet studies, there have been numerous preclinical in vivo and in vitro studies and several human clinical trials to evaluate the efficacy of astaxanthin.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study demonstrated that astaxanthin was found to significantly increase strength and endurance. Another clinical study shows that Astaxanthin alleviates symptoms in patients with Helicobacter pylori (pre-ulcer indigestion). A third clinical study demonstrated bioavailability in humans. Additional human clinical studies are in progress.
Astaxanthin has been shown to inhibit lipid peroxidation at the cell level, thus protecting the cell membrane and the mitochondrial membrane within the cell. It is able to cross the blood-brain barrier which makes it available to the eye, brain and central nervous system to alleviate oxidative stress that contributes to ocular and neurodegenerative diseases such as glaucoma and Alzheimer’s. Astaxanthin has also been shown to provide significantly more antioxidant capacity than other carotenoids and antioxidants, such as beta-carotene and Vitamin E.
Astaxanthin entraps free radicals by adding them to its long, double-bonded chain.
Rather than donating an electron, astaxanthin stabilizes the cell membrane like a bridge, in that its polar end groups span the cell membrane thus increasing its rigidity and mechanical strength. This allows astaxanthin to neutralize singlet and triplet oxygen generated by UVA and UVB radiation and other sources, to bind to lipoprotein, an efficient transport vehicle, making it more bioavailable, and to increase immune system function, including heightened production of antibody-secreting cells and Interleukin 2 and suppression of Interferon-gamma.
Newer studies have shown that astaxanthin inhibits reactive oxygen species that cause inflammation, enhances the antioxidant actions of Vitamin E and Vitamin C, and encourages the release of Vitamin A from the liver when needed.
Astaxanthin has 500-1000 times the antioxidant capacity of Vitamin E and 40 times the antioxidant capacity of beta-carotene. Many laboratory studies also indicate Astaxanthin works better than lutein, lycopene and tocotrienols.
Following ingestion, astaxanthin is absorbed by the duodenal mucosa and transported to the liver where it binds with a lipoprotein for transport through the body and to the cell site. Because it is oxygenated, a xanthophyll has greater antioxidant capacity than many other carotenoids.
Within the xanthophylls, the astaxanthin molecule contains the longest conjugated, double-bond polyene chain along with both hydroxy and carbonyl groups at each end. This configuration supports the greatest antioxidant capacity, peroxyl radical chain-breaking abilities, the incorporation of free radicals into its polyene chain thereby more effectively trapping them, and the enhancement of Vitamin C as an antioxidant.
While other carotenoids and antioxidants may perform one or two of these functions, astaxanthin does them all and, in most cases, does them better. In addition to entrapping free radicals, astaxanthin also de-charges singlet and triplet oxygen and inhibits reactive oxygen, giving its anti-inflammatory properties.
With its unique chemical structure as a carotenoid with superior positioning and orientation in the cell membrane, astaxanthin has been shown to be:
- 550 times stronger than Vitamin E (α-tocopherol)
- 40 times stronger than Beta-Carotene
- 17 times more potent than Grape Seed Extracts
- Potent antiperoxidative membrance activity
- Inhibits NF-κB inflammatory gene expression
- Suppresses DNA damage (8-OHdG)
COMPARISON TO OTHER “Well-Known” ANTIOXIDANTS
(Natural Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Beta-Carotene, Lycopene, Lutein)
- Excellent Prevention of Lipid Peroxidation
- Strongest Free Radical Scavenger
- Immune Response Enhancer
- Effective Anti-Inflammatory
ULTIMATE SYNERGISTIC PROTECTION
- Astaxanthin when combined with Lycopene shows significantly stronger oxidation resistance than when lycopene, lutein, or astaxanthin are taken alone
- Various increases in antioxidant power are shown in combination with lipoic acid, resveratrol, ergothioneine, ascorbic acid, ginseng, garlic, ginko biloba
- Tests results show better antioxidant protection in combination with tocotrienols
ULTIMATE SAFETY: CAROTENOIDS & PRO-OXIDATION
Astaxanthin has been classified as a “Pure Anti-oxidant” unlike certain other carotenoids such as β-carotene, lutein and lycopene that may show “Pro-oxidative” characteristics under certain conditions. This causes carotenoids to become a free radical that is capable of attacking the cells and constituents. Air pollution, exposure to ultraviolet light, radiation and smoking are also examples of pro-oxidants.
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MECHANISM OF ACTION
- Spans the cell membrane bilayer (fat/ fat) because of its polar end groups near the fat/water surface where free radical attacks first occur
- Attaches to a lipoprotein to travel in the bloodstream for improved bioavailability and enabling it to cross the blood- brain barrier (lipid transport mediated)
- Inhibits the destruction of the fatty acids and proteins in cell membranes and mitochondrial membranes in cells caused by peroxidation of fats
- Stabilizes free radicals by adding them to its structure (long double- bond chain) rather than donating an atom or electron
- More resistant to the chain reaction that can occur when a fatty acid is oxidized, thus allowing it to scavenge or quench longer than an antioxidant that cannot stop this chain reaction
- Neutralizes singlet and triplet oxygen by de-charging them
- Traps more types of free radicals (alkoxyl, hydroxyl, peroxyl, singlet and triplet oxygen) than any other antioxidant
- Spans the cell membrane bilayer with its polar end groups increasing cell membrane flexibility and mechanical strength (improved membrane function)
- Anti-inflammatory capabilities: Inhibits reactive oxygen species that cause inflammation to the cells
- Transports alkoxyl radicals along its long chain to the fat/water interface, where a hydrophilic antioxidant such as Vitamin C can scavenge them
- Enhances gap-junctional communication and xenobiotic metabolizing enzyme activity
- Promotes secondary immune responses against pathogens and transformed cells
- Augments tumor immunity
ASTAXANTHIN HAS BEEN SHOWN TO:
- Increase strength and endurance (2.8 times greater increase over baseline versus placebo in human study)*
- Alleviate symptoms in patients with H. pylori (pre-ulcer indigestion)*
- Protect cell and mitochondrial membranes from oxidative damage, thus protecting the cell from oxidative damage**
- Boost the immune system by increasing the number of antibody-producing cells**
- Prevent the initiation of cancer cells in the tongue, oral cavity, large bowel, bladder, uterus, and breasts**
- Inhibit lipid peroxidation that causes plaque formation, thus reducing risk of cardiovascular disease**
- Alleviate oxidative stress, thus more easily crossing the blood brain barrier.**
- Assist in the support of neurodegenerative conditions such as AMD, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS**
- Protect the eyes and skin from UVA and UVB damage by quenching singlet and triplet oxygen**
- Reduce the number of new and abnormal cells in the liver**
* Confirmed in human clinical study
** Confirmed in preclinical studies
Preclinical studies demonstrate that astaxanthin is safe, with no known side effects: On August 11, 1987, Roche Vitamins and Fine Chemicals (a division of Hoffman- La Roche, Inc.) submitted a petition to FDA concerning approval of synthetic astaxanthin as a feed additive for pigmentation in Salmonid fish. These studies were done to evaluate toxicity, mutagenicity, teratology and embryotoxicity, reproductive performance and tolerance.
- The studies were performed on rats, rabbits and dogs
- No observable anomalies in any study could be attributed to astaxanthin dose.
- It was concluded that the doses of astaxanthin tested had no effect on toxicity, mutagenicity, teratology, embryotoxicity, reproductive performance or tolerance.
- The entire petition is on file at La Haye Laboratories, Inc., consisting of seven volumes.
- It is also concluded that a natural astaxanthin should be safer than a synthetic version.