I have long benefited from Dr. Mercola’s independent nutritional research and start every day of the week with his brand of Astaxanthin.
As Astaxanthin’s Long List of Potential Benefits Grows Daily, Few Substances Can Hold a Candle to This Magnificent, yet Little-Known Carotenoid
While other antioxidants have only one electron to donate to neutralize one free radical, astaxanthin can handle more than 19 free radicals at one time in your cells
So what else makes astaxanthin stand out among other antioxidants, besides its unique ability to cross your blood-brain and blood-retinal barriers?
Astaxanthin is related to beta-carotene, lutein and canthaxanthin – all very powerful carotenoid antioxidants on their own. But because of its unique molecular structure, astaxanthin is even more potent and versatile in its actions.
These 7 key differences make astaxanthin stand out:
- It has far more electrons to donate to neutralize free radicals than most other antioxidants, allowing it to remain active and intact longer
- It can handle multiple free radicals, sometimes more than 19 at one time, unlike most other antioxidants that can typically deal with only one at a time
- It can protect both water- and fat-soluble parts of your cells, including your heart cells’ mitochondrial membranes*
- It cannot act as a pro-oxidant, or cause oxidation, like many antioxidants, even at higher doses
- It’s molecule can absorb UVB rays and this can help reduce skin-wrinkling damage from sun exposure*
- It acts on at least five different inflammation pathways, supporting your body’s healthy normal inflammatory response*
- Because it is lipid-soluble and larger and longer than other carotenoids, it can become part of your cell membrane and span its entire thickness to help stabilize and protect both the inner and outer cell membrane from oxidative damage*
Plus, when compared to other nutrients and antioxidants that scavenge free radicals and neutralize potentially damaging singlet oxygen in your cells and tissues, astaxanthin really excels…
Up to 6,000 Times the Quenching Power of Other Well-Known Antioxidants
Singlet oxygen is a high-energy form of oxygen, and one of the reactive oxygen species (ROS) linked to oxidized LDL cholesterol and cardiovascular effects.
By helping to scavenge, or quench these highly reactive oxygen molecules, you can help prevent the damaging oxidative effects of ROS on your cells and especially your mitochondria, the little energy factories inside your cells.*
Astaxanthin has been shown to be more effective than other antioxidant nutrients at this singlet oxygen quenching by being up to…
- 6,000 times greater than vitamin C*
- 800 times stronger than CoQ10*
- 500 times more powerful than vitamin E*
- 10 times stronger than beta-carotene*
- 4 times more effective than lutein*
Imagine these tremendous effects on your cells, tissues and organs! Is it any wonder astaxanthin has earned the title, “The King of the Carotenoids”? I certainly have never seen anything like it. Consider its ORAC value, or potential to protect against attack by free radicals in your body, compared to others:
Why Potent Antioxidant Power Isn’t a ‘Nice to Have,’ but, Instead a ‘Must-Have’ in Today’s World
Astaxanthin promotes a healthy normal inflammatory response to help you feel more comfortable
All this antioxidant power must mean something for your health and comfort, right?
Oxidation in your body is much like what happens to a piece of metal when it rusts. When oxidation happens in your body, it can lead to the generation of even more free radicals – something you don’t want.
Free radical damage and oxidation can show up as inflammation in your body, lines and wrinkles on your skin, and even loss of muscle tone and flexibility.
Oxidation can also damage your cells, tissues, organs, and your genetic material, DNA.
Typically, your body produces antioxidants to help quell the free radicals created inside your body during breathing and other normal functions, like digestion.
However, when you pile on extra insults from pollution, EMFs, stress, processed foods, and toxins like herbicides and pesticides, your body’s own defenses can become overwhelmed.
Please remember… Being metabolically inflexible and not being able to burn fat as your primary fuel is a major source of oxidative stress. You do have control, however. By changing your food choices, you can start burning fat for fuel.
Once you are metabolically flexible, a powerful antioxidant like astaxanthin has been shown to effectively scavenge free radicals from your tissues and help reduce singlet oxygen, the especially damaging type of oxidation.*
11 Ways Astaxanthin Can Help You Take Control of Your Health
You can enjoy life more when you feel energetic
Because astaxanthin can reach just about every cell in your body and helps protect the membrane system of your mitochondria, its potential is astounding.* Astaxanthin may help:
- Boost cellular energy production*
- Reduce oxidative damage to mitochondria and cellular DNA*
- Promote a healthy normal inflammatory response, potentially leading to greater comfort, flexibility, and mobility*
- Support immune function and cellular health*
- Protect brain neurons and may promote the production of neural stem cells*
- Cognitive and psychomotor function, including an improvement in age-related forgetfulness and mood*
- Promote healthy already normal blood glucose levels*
- Support eye health and reduce blurred vision, eyestrain, and tired eyes*
- Maintain a youthful appearance, improve skin elasticity, and reduce the visible signs of skin aging*
- Promote healthy already normal blood lipid levels*
- Prevent joint discomfort and stiffness following exercise*
Because astaxanthin protects your mitochondria’s membranes, the parts of your body that are most mitochondrial-dense, like your heart, brain, liver and muscles, may especially benefit.* Let’s take a closer look at some of these important potential benefits that have been making headlines lately…
Astaxanthin’s Ability to Cross Your Blood-Brain Barrier Offers Exciting Potential for Your Cognitive Health*
Astaxanthin may offer benefits for your cognitive health
As I pointed out earlier, astaxanthin is one of the few antioxidants that can effectively cross your blood-brain barrier.
This is no small feat… and it provides exciting potential for unique brain and nerve benefits.*
Once it crosses over this protective barrier, astaxanthin saturates and protects your brain cells against oxidative damage.*
Recent studies show astaxanthin may also help protect against the damaging effects of abnormal proteins that accumulate in your brain with age.*
Researchers have discovered that beta-amyloid, a toxic brain protein, can also be found on red blood cells. When present on your red blood cells, it can reduce the amount of oxygen your tissues receive.
Astaxanthin may help reduce the accumulation of amyloid-beta proteins on red blood cells.
In one study, 96 healthy middle-aged and elderly individuals with complaints of age-related forgetfulness took a dose of either 6 mg or 12 mg per day of astaxanthin from the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis.
After 12 weeks, cognitive health and learning scores significantly improved in the 12-mg group. Learning test score improvement was also seen in the 6-mg group, compared to the control group who received no astaxanthin.*
You may be wondering… how much is too much astaxanthin? A human study using 20 mg over a 4 week study reported no adverse effects.* I believe astaxanthin is one antioxidant you can use at higher levels for increased potential benefits without adverse effects… just like we’re seeing with age-related forgetfulness.*
Help Take Care of Your Heart, Veins and Arteries With the ‘King of the Carotenoids,’ Astaxanthin*
Astaxanthin integrates into your heart cells’ mitochondrial membranes*
Many people in the know rely on a certain blood test to keep them appraised of their cardiovascular health status…
This test, the CRP, measures a substance called C-reactive protein in your blood. CRP is produced in your liver and coronary arteries and is released into your bloodstream whenever inflammation is present.
While inflammation is a normal healthy response to an insult or injury, you want it to do its job and then subside. You don’t want it to continue on, out of control in your body…
In the first comprehensive study to examine the ability of astaxanthin to act on immune response, inflammation, and oxidative damage in humans, healthy young participants received either 0, 2, or 8 mg of astaxanthin.
A daily dose of as little as 2 mg reduced CRP levels by 20 percent in just eight weeks.* Plus, astaxanthin dramatically decreased one DNA damage biomarker after only four weeks.*
Another study showed astaxanthin helped 43 percent of participants lower their high CRP levels to the average risk range. This suggests astaxanthin may be helpful in promoting a healthy already normal inflammatory response and decreasing your body’s need to produce CRP.*
A key potential benefit of astaxanthin for your heart and vascular system involves its ability to help reduce oxidative stress.* Other studies suggest astaxanthin may help:
- Protect vascular lining throughout your cardiovascular system*
- Keep arteries flexible and pliable*
- Promote already healthy blood flow*
- Guard against the oxidation or damage to LDL cholesterol*
Whether You’re an Accomplished Athlete, Occasional Exerciser, or a Weekend Warrior, Astaxanthin May Become Your Go-To Secret Weapon for a Fast Recovery
Astaxanthin can help with endurance and aid in a faster recovery from exercise
Exercise, or even working in your garden, can take its toll on your body at any age, especially if you don’t do it regularly.
What if there was something that could help increase your strength and vitality, and reduce your muscle and joint soreness afterward?
Astaxanthin can help do all this, thanks to its ability to protect mitochondrial and cellular membranes and support an already healthy inflammatory response in your body.*
It’s also been shown to improve athletic performance and promote muscle endurance, which should be no surprise, considering the abundance of mitochondria in muscle tissue.*
As you age, oxidative damage can cripple your red blood cells’ ability to oxygenate your tissues. Because of astaxanthin’s ability to benefit your cell membranes, this can positively impact the health of your red blood cells.*
In a double-blind clinical trial with 32 healthy adults ages 50 to 69, subjects took either 6 mg or 12 mg of astaxanthin a day for 12 weeks. Both dosage levels affected oxidative damage to red blood cells.*
Another 10-day study with dose levels of 6 mg per day showed significantly improved blood flow.*
Better blood flow improves oxygen delivery throughout your body, and that can make all the difference when you and your muscles are fatigued.* Astaxanthin may also increase mobility and help alleviate pain associated with sports and repetitive movements.*
Take tennis for example… The repetitive hitting of tennis balls can leave you with a condition called tennis elbow, which can cause a loss of grip strength and pain while gripping objects with your hands.
In a study with tennis players, the astaxanthin group took 12 mg each day for 8 weeks, while the other group took only a placebo.
For those taking astaxanthin, their grip strength almost doubled in only 8 weeks. The average increase was 93 percent. Plus, the feeling of temporary pain in their hands decreased as well.*
From Computer-Related Visual Fatigue to Age-Related Changes, Astaxanthin Offers Potential Benefits for Your Eyes
Astaxanthin offers potential benefits for your eyes
Your retina contains two carotenoids that are very similar to astaxanthin: lutein and zeaxanthin.
Astaxanthin in particular is showing exciting promise for some of the most common age-related eye changes and conditions, especially those associated with your macular and retina.
Keep in mind, astaxanthin can cross your blood-retinal barrier, unlike other antioxidants.
This feature may be key to astaxanthin’s actions… Rat studies suggest that supplementing with astaxanthin may provide neuroprotective effects against retinal damage.*
Astaxanthin appears to protect retinal cells against oxidative stress and it was shown to significantly reduce destructive new blood vessel growth.*
Here’s a quick summary of some revealing studies of astaxanthinon vision quality, especially when using a computer or other visual display:
- 6 mg a day for 4 weeks improved computer and display screen visual fatigue symptoms, including dimness of sight and stiff shoulders and back*
- 6 mg a day for 4 weeks improved symptoms of eye strain and blurred vision, occasional double vision, and general headache*
- 5 mg a day for 4 weeks improved visual display terminal workers’ ability to refocus their eyes, or accommodation amplitude during work*
- 12 mg a day for 4 weeks significantly improved both eye strain and ability to refocus during close up work and computers*
If you spend time each day looking at a computer screen, or any other type of visual display, I encourage you to see for yourself how astaxanthin may be able to help you avoid technology’s potentially damaging effects on your vision.*
Helps Protect and Rejuvenate Your Skin From the Inside Out – What Other Antioxidant Can Do That?
UVA rays can damage your skin and cause premature wrinkling and sagging
While I’m a strong advocate of controlled sun exposure for your body’s natural vitamin D production, it’s no secret that getting too much sun can cause photoaging and make your skin look older.
When you expose your skin to sunlight, the sun’s ultraviolet or UVA rays produce free radicals, which in turn can damage your skin’s collagen. This can cause skin sagging, wrinkles and age spots.
And just growing old leads to changes too… like a loss of skin elasticity and a greater tendency for your skin’s top layer to peel.
This telltale sign of aging facial skin, known as corneocyte desquamation, can leave your skin looking older and pale.
According to several studies, astaxanthin may help with all of these changes… Astaxanthin has been shown to:
- Penetrate skin cells and help manage ultraviolet radiation damage, particularly with over-exposure*
- Promote a photo-protective effect, especially when taken orally 24 hours before UVA exposure*
- Inhibit the sun’s negative effects and protect your skin against UVA-induced skin photoaging such as sagging and wrinkles, even when taken after sun exposure*
- Reduce oxidative stress and help reverse the appearance of changes in the skin surface associated with skin aging*
So how much astaxanthin was needed to produce these effects? All of these studies used dosages between 4 and 8 mg of astaxanthin from the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis.
Where to Find Astaxanthin, the ‘Mighty King of the Carotenoids’
Wild-caught sockeye salmon is the best animal source of astaxanthin, but you’d have to eat a large serving daily
As I said earlier, my preferred way to get antioxidants and other important nutrients is from fresh, organically grown nutrient-dense food.
However, many people aren’t getting the nutrients their bodies need, either because of their food choices, or food can’t provide enough of certain nutrients.
Take wild-caught Alaska Sockeye salmon for example, the very best animal source of astaxanthin…
Astaxanthin is a naturally occurring fat-soluble carotenoid found in salmon, shrimp, lobster, crab, krill and certain algae. Actually, it’s what gives these sea animals their brilliant orange coloring.
Its highest concentration is found in the muscles of wild salmon (not farmed salmon!). Researchers believe that’s no accident… High levels may be needed to provide the power for salmon to swim upstream during spawning.
The other source of naturally occurring astaxanthin is one that few people know about… a very unique type of microalgae called Haematococcus pluvialis. This is how sea creatures like salmon and krill get their red pigmentation – by eating this microalgae!
So, you can get naturally occurring astaxanthin two different ways: Eat a generous serving of wild sockeye salmon every day or get it the way salmon do, find and consume the microalgae itself.
In reality, you’re not likely to succeed at either option. I doubt you relish the idea of hunting down and eating microalgae. If you chose the wild sockeye salmon option, you’d have to eat a 6-ounce serving every day just to get a 3.6 mg dose.
And don’t even think about getting your astaxanthin from farmed salmon… Farmed salmon contains 400 times less astaxanthin than wild salmon and it’s petro-chemically derived astaxanthin, not natural astaxanthin from microalgae.
Since many of the more recent studies suggest taking a higher dose for enhanced potential benefits, I recommend getting your astaxanthin from a high-quality supplement instead. It’s far easier and much more cost effective.
I recommend starting with 4 mg per day, and working your way up to 12 mg per day — or more if you’re an athlete. Taking your astaxanthin supplement with some healthy fat, such as butter, coconut oil, or eggs will optimize its absorption.
What to Look for When Buying Astaxanthin
When shopping for astaxanthin, there are four important criteria
When shopping for astaxanthin, I recommend keeping
four important criteria in mind…
- The astaxanthin formula is created from the marine microalgae, pluvialis and not some form of fungus, or other less effective form
- The manufacturer guarantees stability and efficacy of the formula
- The formula supplies sufficient astaxanthin – at least a 4 mg minimum serving size so you can take fewer capsules each day
- Look for organic astaxanthin grown in controlled environments for the cleanest and purest form
You may be surprised to know that over 95 percent of the astaxanthin on the market today is produced synthetically, much of it for feeding to farmed salmon. Petrochemical-derived astaxanthin is much less expensive than astaxanthin from H. pluvialis!
Natural astaxanthin from H. pluvialis makes up less than one percent of commercially produced astaxanthin, so you can’t be too careful when shopping for astaxanthin.
So what makes the astaxanthin from H. pluvialis so superior? Synthetic astaxanthin has 20 times lower antioxidant capacity than microalgae-derived astaxanthin.
To save you the work, my team and I researched some of the best astaxanthin formulas out there to bring you what I consider two outstanding options…
Now… Your Choice of 4 mg Astaxanthin With ALA or 12 mg Astaxanthin – Both With Organic Astaxanthin
The oil from perilla seeds contain ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid
Depending on your goals, we now offer you two convenient dosage levels of organic astaxanthin:
- Astaxanthin with ALA – Provides a minimal dose of 4 mg of Organic Astaxanthin from the preferred source Haematococcus pluvialis extract plus 300 mg of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) from Perilla Seed Oil, in a base of Organic Olive Oil for better absorption with fats
- Astaxanthin – Provides a higher dose of 12 mg of Organic Astaxanthin from the preferred source Haematococcus pluvialis extract in a base of Organic Olive Oil for better absorption with fats
So how do you decide which one is right for you?
We’ve created the 12 mg option for those who want to take a higher dose of astaxanthin by itself. You may have noticed that several of the studies used higher levels, so we’re offering 12 mg capsules for your convenience.
For those who want a little extra perk with their astaxanthin, we offer 4 mg Organic Astaxanthin with ALA.
ALA, or alpha-linolenic acid, is a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid derived from perilla seed oil.
What’s ALA good for? While the “essential” omega-3s EPA and DHA in krill oil are elements that actually make up your cells, short-chain ALA provides a source of energy for your body.*
But that’s not all… Studies now suggest that ALA may have some additional functions in your body…
Overshadowed by DHA and EPA, ALA Finally Moves Into the Spotlight
ALA may work together with DHA and EPA to support your heart health
First, let me be very clear… DHA and EPA from animal sources like Krill and Salmon oils, are the most valuable omega-3 fatty acids for your body and brain.*
Plant-sourced omega-3s like ALA cannot fully take their place.
However, researchers are now realizing that, because of all the attention paid to DHA and EPA in recent years, ALA may have been unduly ignored.
There is growing evidence that ALA may also offer important cardiovascular support!*
While the research is still in its infancy stage, animal studies suggest ALA may…
- Help promote already healthy normal LDL, or low-density lipoprotein levels, when taken with DHA and EPA, to support healthy cardiovascular function*
- Support cognitive health by increasing levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) that supports brain neuron health, memory and learning*
- Help improve mood by increasing brain neuroplasticity, or the ability of your brain to change over time*
Your body can’t make its own ALA, so you must get it from diet, like DHA and EPA. Because of this emerging data, I believe the idea scenario is for you to get ALA from either foods or in supplement form, in combination with Krill Oil (or Salmon Oil, if you prefer).
To make that easy for you to do, I’ve added ALA to our 4mg Organic Astaxanthin with ALA.*
How Our Astaxanthin Formulas Compare With the Others on the Market Today
Our Astaxanthin formulas go beyond meeting the basics. We’re proud of our report card, comparing our formulas to others in the marketplace…
What to Look For Mercola Astaxanthin Other Formulas Created from marine microalgae? Yes – Formula created using Haematococcus pluvialis microalgae. Not all astaxanthin formulas use microalgae nutrients. Contains some sort of oil or fatty acid to help maximize absorption? Yes – For optimal absorption, this formula uses the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and olive oil. Some astaxanthin formulas don’t include any sort of oil or fatty acid to help maximize absorption. Very few include omega-3s. Does the manufacturer guarantee stability and efficacy of the product? Yes – Manufacturer’s processes create a high-quality product with long-term stability (24 months) and efficacy. Plus, manufacturer uses “oil” instead of powder to enhance stability of the astaxanthin. To date, I’ve not seen any other astaxanthin manufacturer that compares favorably to this one, when it comes to product stability and efficacy. Most astaxanthin manufacturers use astaxanthin powder (instead of “oil”) which may cause costly formulation stability challenges. Manufacturer avoids chemical solvents and preservatives in their formulation process? Yes – Formula is untouched by chemical solvents and is free from preservatives, impurities, and residues. Not all astaxanthin formulas are free from synthetic chemical solvents and preservatives. These are unacceptable to me. Serving size of at least 4 mg? Yes – Astaxanthin with ALA comes in 4-mg capsules. Many astaxanthin formulas come in a 4-mg serving size. But some don’t, with some using 1-mg capsules requiring you the inconvenience of taking more capsules.
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