Astaxanthin and It's Powerful Benefits to the Skin & Body




Carotenoids, a large family of antioxidants (some possessing vitamin A activity) are fat-soluble pigments found in red, green, orange, and yellow fruits and vegetables.

You may be most familiar with beta carotene, which is orange. However, one of its cousins, astaxanthin (pronounced asta-ZAN-thin) may be an even more important antioxidant. This red pigment is abundant in nature and is found in marine animals as well as in tiny one-celled plants known as phytoplankton. Astaxanthin appears to go beyond the effects of other carotenoids when it comes to staving off the effects of aging.

 
Marine biologists have found that tiny reddish crustaceans called krill are protected by astaxanthin from extremely high amounts of ultraviolet (UV)-generated free radicals, intensified at the sea’s surface. Researchers have also discovered high levels of astaxanthin in the eyes of other aquatic creatures, suggesting that it could be the major antioxidant for protecting their vision. These discoveries may have important implications for humans, especially with regard to the aging process.

 
Prevents Free Radical Damage

Carotenoids are a large class of antioxidants whose minor differences in chemical structure determine where they’re most effective and how they protect us. Astaxanthin imbeds itself in cellular membranes and is unique among carotenoids in that it traps free radicals at both ends of the molecule. Once trapped, free radicals are passed off from astaxanthin into cellular fluids where they’re neutralized by vitamin C.

Free radicals from energy expenditure accumulate in muscles during exercise, causing fatigue and reduced exercise capacity. A recent study has shown that astaxanthin, taken at a dose of 4 mg per day, quickly eliminated these free radicals, resulting in a three-fold improvement in strength and endurance among healthy young men. Another group of young men, who served as controls in the study by not taking astaxanthin, did not show any improvement in performance.


Other research shows that carotenoids are potent cancer preventives. However, in a study comparing its action to that of three other carotenoids, astaxanthin was found to be the most effective in reducing mammary tumors in animals. Several other studies have reported its anticancer effects, focusing on astaxanthin’s ability to block free radical damage within membrane fatty acids and at their interface with body fluids. Furthermore, in pre-clinical trials, astaxanthin decreased the size of cancers of the mouth, colon, liver, and bladder.






















For Your Brain, Arteries, and Eyes
 

Astaxanthin is unique in its ability to cross the highly selective “blood-brain barrier” that protects the brain from potentially harmful substances. This amazing antioxidant thus prevents free radical damage to the brain. Brain gray matter is 60 percent fatty acids by composition. These fatty acids are extremely vulnerable to free radical damage, which is a major cause of brain cell degeneration. Consequently, astaxanthin helps stave off the aging effects of free radical damage in the brain.

The list of anti-aging benefits astaxanthin offers grows longer. An ailment closely associated with aging and senility, atherosclerosis is a progressive condition in which plaque composed of oxidized low-density cholesterol (LDL) builds up inside blood vessels and arteries, narrowing them and gradually reducing circulation and tissue oxygenation. However, researchers at Tokyo’s National Institute of Health and Nutrition found that astaxanthin inhibits LDL oxidation, thus reducing plaque build-up and narrowing of arteries.

Astaxanthin also guards against macular degeneration and other vision problems stemming from oxidative damage, which are often considered inevitable signs of aging. Just as scientists discovered the protective value of this pigment for aquatic species, they believe that astaxanthin may prevent UV light-induced free radical damage (called photo-oxidation) in human eyes. Along with other carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin, astaxanthin protects the integrity of the macula in the center of the retina. So, use sunglasses whenever in bright sunlight, and take astaxanthin to help keep your vision bright and clear. 

Boosts Immunity 

The immune system protects against inflammation caused by pathogens and autoimmune reactions, which result when the body’s defense system turns on itself. Here, too, astaxanthin appears to be more effective than other carotenoids in preventing inflammation. University of Minnesota scientists find astaxanthin boosts production of T cells and increases antibody production. In Japan, researchers confirm that astaxanthin’s action on T cells activates the immune response to fight disease and inhibits autoimmune reactions. 
 
Astaxanthin also offers liver support. The body protects itself against toxins with an internal antioxidant system located in the liver. Astaxanthin was shown in animal studies (conducted at the College of Human Ecology at Seoul National University) to protect the liver against damage by “stimulating the cellular antioxidant system.”

For the Skin & Wrinkles


In human trials, astaxanthin has been shown to reduce visible signs of UV-aging through both topical and dietary supplementation within 4 to 6 weeks of use. This data is supported by a number of in-vitro and animal studies. Research suggests potential skin benefits from the use of astaxanthin to maintain a youthful appearance, reverse premature signs of aging.

In a study using hairless mice, Arakane (2002) demonstrates astaxanthin’s ability to suppress the formation of UVB photo induced wrinkles. UVB doses of 65-95 mJ/cm2 were applied five times per week for 18 weeks on the back skin of the mice. After each UVB treatment, topical application of astaxanthin (350 ┬ÁM) was coated on the exposed areas. After only 5 weeks, the appearance of new wrinkles were significantly reduced up until the end of the study period (P<0.01 at 18 weeks). Concurrently, stained skin sections revealed that astaxanthin preserved the integrity of the dermal layer by protecting the collagen network.


In a preliminary human study, Seki et al., (2001) demonstrates the same anti-wrinkle observations in female human subjects (n=3) using a topical cream containing astaxanthin. A dermatological assessment revealed significant reduction of wrinkles and puffiness on the lower eye and cheeks after 2 weeks of use.

In a separate test using female subjects (n=11), instrument analysis recorded significant moisture improvement (P<0.05) after 3 weeks of use.

Naturally, further investigation is necessary to elucidate the mechanism of action and to replicate results using significantly larger clinical trials. To date, the astaxanthin potential is promising.


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