If you’ve been keeping an eye on the news or have been watching the health channel, then you probably heard of a powerful antioxidant known as astaxanthin.

Backed by many of the known health experts such as Dr.Oz and Dr. Mercola, the word out there is that just taking one single pill daily can do more in the aging-skin department than any “miracle cream,” lotion, or spa treatment could ever do.

Astaxanthin has also been called to for its ability to enhance stamina, decrease recovery time when you’re exercising, do wonders for your joints, improve brain function and boost your energy. But, are any of these claims true or is astaxanthin just the latest health craze?

Astaxanthin has been around for ages, but it wasn’t until recently that scientists began to categorize it as a super-antioxidant that it really is. The reddish-colored shade is formed by microalgae, and consumed by various different forms of marine life, including salmon, shrimp, lobster, and other organism with the reddish pigment.

Generally labeled as “the king of the carotenoids,” asxtaxanthin is ten to one-hundred times more effective than any other carotenoids like beta-carotene and lycopene. Additionally, unlike many other antioxidants, astaxanthin does not induce oxidative stress in the body. This makes it one of the most effective and powerful antioxidant that one can consume. The following below are just a couple of examples of how astaxanthin positively affects the body, and improve one’s health.

Astaxanthin and Joint Health

Astaxanthin contains natural anti-inflammatory properties, but unlike prescription painkillers, there are no risks of becoming addicted to it, developing heartburn or gastrointestinal ulcers. Particularly, natural forms of astaxanthin inhibits inflammatory cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), while together restraining serum levels of nitric oxide (NO), IL 1B, PGE2, C Reactive Protein (CPR), and tumor necrosis factor alpha or TNF-alpha.

Astaxanthin and Skin Health

As mentioned earlier, one reason for the red-hue of some marine organisms has to do with the high levels of astaxanthin that it contains. Astaxanthin provides powerful UV protection against sun damage on fish eggs. Taking astaxanthin can pass on that same protection to humans. Wrinkles, age spots, acne blemishes and dryness are many ways that skin damage can introduce itself. It appears that astaxanthin not only protects your skin from further damage, but may also help reverse damage caused over-time relatively quickly. This is because of its antioxidant properties, as well as its anti-inflammatory and ability to enhance the immune system.

One of astaxanthin’s functions is protecting the outermost layer of the skin from oxidative stress. This helps to boost the repair of skin cells and collagen production, therefore increasing skin moisture, preventing and reducing wrinkles, and increasing the firmness and elasticity of the skin. Astaxanthin can also wipe out inflammation, which can help to decrease the appearance of puffiness and irritation.

In general, research is showing that the best supplement anyone can take to restore and improve the skin is astaxanthin. Not only does it reverse years of skin damage, but it also help maintain a youthful appearance.

Astaxanthin and Fatigue

Sockeye salmon has the highest amount of the antioxidant found in nature. This is the reason for the pigment of the flesh in the fish. Astaxanthin is also thought-out to be the main reason why salmon have the surge of energy to make their difficult upstream journeys each year. Natural forms of the antioxidant also provide people with heightened strength, while also providing increased recovery from exercise.

Side effects of astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is relatively safe when you eat it in amounts found in food. However, the safety of supplementing with it or using skin products that contains it is unknown. The common announced astaxanthin side effects are a slight change in the color of the skin. Some people have reported an orange tint to the skin or stool which is harmless. Even at mega doses, there have never been any toxic effects noticed in humans or animals. Other astaxanthin side effects that rarely occur have a larger impact, and side effects such as a lower blood pressure and changes to hormone levels can have severe health complications.

Astaxanthin is generally used as an added ingredient to animal food, and it adds to the reddish tint to crabs, shrimps, salmons and lobsters. As an animal feed additive, the antioxidant is recognized as safe, according to the U.S. CFR, and many people are able to eat seafood that were fed astaxanthin without any allergic reaction at all. In the late 90s, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared the antioxidant as a food additive for human use.

As a dietary supplement, it is generally used as an antioxidant to reduce LDL cholesterol . Supporters of astaxanthin proclaim its ability to improve eye conditions as well as treat carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, GI complaints, and male infertility. However, there is not enough evidence to support any of these claims.

Common astaxanthin side effects involve skin pigmentation as noted above, hair growth, fluctuation in hormone levels and lower blood pressure. There also may be a drop in calcium levels, decrease libido, and breast enlargement in men although these effects are very rare. If you are allergic to the substance, you should avoid eating foods containing astaxanthin.

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