(Health Secrets Newsletter) The start of summer means it’s time to lay in a supply of astaxanthin-rich foods and superfoods. Astaxanthin is nature’s sunscreen that naturally blocks ultra violet damage to the skin and eyes. But astaxanthin does a whole lot more than keep you fit to be in the sun.
Astaxanthin keeps people looking good by promoting beauty and radiant health from the inside out. It improves fine lines and wrinkles, skin elasticity and moisture content while reducing inflammation and cell damage that leads to premature aging. Astaxanthin keeps people feeling good too. Recent research has documented its ability to increase cellular energy, protect against and treat cancer, and protect against damage to the brain and nervous system. In fact, astaxanthin may truly be considered a miracle nutrient.Astaxanthin is a wonder compound from microalgaePeople who pay close attention to nutrition have long been impressed by the properties of the blue green pigment in marine microalgae, and have elevated spirulina and chlorella to superfood status. In fact, both spirulina and chlorella are good sources of astaxanthin as well. Another microalgae, Haematococcus pluvialis, contains primarily dark red pigment, the pigment that is the richest known source of the carotenoid astaxanthin.Only phytoplankton such as algae, plants, and certain bacteria and fungi are able to synthesize carotenoids such as astaxanthin. Animals, including humans, must consume carotenoids as part of their diet. Astaxanthin is found in many types of seafood and is what gives the reddish-orange color to salmon, shrimp, red fish, and lobster. It provides the coloration for birds such as flamingoes and quail. But don’t worry, taking supplemental astaxanthin or eating foods that have consumed it will not cause a person to turn orange or red.
Astaxanthin protects skin and eyes in the sun
Dr. Kidd concluded, “Astaxanthin’s clinical success extends beyond protection against oxidative stress and inflammation, to demonstrable promise for slowing age-related functional decline.”Astaxanthin keeps cataracts awayRecent research from Taipei Medical University in Taiwan found that astaxanthan protected against induced cataracts in rats treated with selenite, a commonly encountered highly toxic form of selenium. The scientists backed up their finding by in vitro assay which supported their conclusion that astaxanthan was protective against cataracts which are usually caused by environmental insult. (Chemical Research in Toxicolog, February 2009)Other research highlights astaxanthin’s incredible cancer fighting properties
The ability of astaxanthin to inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells was studied at Catholic University School of Medicine in Rome. Astaxanthin inhibited cell growth in a dose and time dependent manner by arresting cell cycle progression and by promoting the death of cancerous cells. Astaxanthin resulted in a 220% increase in the expression of the well known anti-cancer gene p 53, and a 160% and 250% increase respectively in the anti-cancer genes p21 and p27. Astaxanthin strongly up regulated apoptosis, the appropriate programmed death of cells. (Cancer Letter, May 5, 2009)
Researchers in Japan examined the protective effects of axtaxanthin on neuroblastoma cells. Pretreatment of the cells with astaxanthin preserved cellular integrity in a dose dependent manner, and inhibited mitochondrial dysfunctions. There was a marked abolishment of free radical generation resulting in the blocking of activation of pro-cancer gene p38. They concluded that the mechanism through which astaxanthan protects neuroblastoma cells is its potent antioxidant activity. (Journal of Neurochemistry, December 2008 )
Astaxanthin boosts immune function
Earlier research has documented that astaxanthin significantly influences immune function. Several tests carried out at the University of Minnesota found it enhances antibody production in mouse spleen cells by exerting actions on T-cells, especially T-helper cells. It was able to restore decreased humoral immune responses in old mice, through immuno-modulating properties not related to provitamin A activity. Studies on human blood cells have demonstrated that astaxanthan enhances immunoglobulin production in response to T-cell dependent stimuli. Astaxanthin has also shown in other research to be effective against chronic viral and autoimmune diseases.
Patents are pending for the miracles of astaxanthin
One of the primary producers of astaxanthin from microalgae lists patents applied for and pending on its website. Probably the most interest of these at the moment is use of astaxanthin for treatment of chronic viral and intracellular bacterial infection. Adding astaxanthin to milk, thereby creating an immunoglobulin-rich mixture that would rival colostrum, is also a timely development. Both these pending patents imply that astaxanthin would make an effective supplement to have on hand during fall and winter flu season.
Treatment of the central nervous system, eye damage, poor digestion, and circadian rhythm dysfunction are also areas of interest. Astaxanthin is cited in patents pending for helicobacter infection, improvement of muscle function and disorders, hypertension, stress, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Several pending patents involve its use with animals, including treatment for mastitis, increased production and breeding of mammals and poultry, and for enhancement of growth in farmed fish.
Beauty products featuring astaxanthin are popping up
Many topical products featuring astaxanthin are also in the works. The driving engine for these is the desire of consumers to slow or stop the aging process, and their fondness for natural products and belief that traditional lotions and creams provide very limited benefits.
Products are appearing that feature astaxanthin for its benefits to skin through topical application. However, studies have shown that oral supplementation works best. Oral supplements of astaxanthin can be obtained from such online suppliers as Vitacost and Lucky Vitamin.