Asta-what? Looks like a hard-to-pronounce name for a pharmaceutical drug, doesn’t it? (Hint: it’s not a drug – it’s a nutrient!) In fact, it’s known as the “King of Carotenoids”.
Pronounced as – ta – zan – thin
When you think of astaxanthin, think pink & antioxidant!
It is well-known for being one of the most potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. It has been found to be 5,000 more powerful than Vitamin C, another well-known antioxidant. (Wow!)
What is Astaxanthin?
It is a nutrient found in seafood that is responsible for giving salmon it’s pinkish red hue and flamingos their pink coloring! Why? They both eat algae that contains this nutrient.
You’ll notice that farm-raised salmon is often a very light pink color, while wild-caught salmon is deep red. This directly corresponds to the level of astaxanthin in them.
Wild caught salmon have about 8x the levels of astaxanthin that farm-raised salmon contain.
*NOTE: Sometimes red dye / coloring will be added to farm-raised salmon at the store to make it appear healthier. Don’t let this trick you.*
Why does wild-caught salmon contain more astaxanthin?
Because salmon have access to the naturally occurring sea vegetables that contain astaxanthin. When they are working hard to swim against the stream, their bodies release the astaxanthin they’ve consumed in their diet.
Farm-raised salmon don’t have the same access to this and are often eating man-made feed…which is why they are a faint pink color.
Remember: the harder the salmon worked, the deeper red they get.
As a powerful antioxidant, it is a scavenger of free radicals, making it particularly useful for cardiovascular disease, among many other areas of health such as skin health, immune health, healthy aging, and more.
There are dozens of benefits of astaxanthin, but for now, here are 5 of them:
Benefits of Astaxanthin
Protects and promotes healthy eyes & vision
As a powerful carotenoid (essential for eye health), astaxanthin promotes healthy vision by increasing visual acuity, depth perception, and protecting our retinas.
Even if you’re young and have healthy eyes, it’s a good idea to protect your eyes before they start giving you warning signs. Just think about how your eyes are strained most of the day from looking at screens.
Many studies have found that astaxanthin improves inflammatory markers and results in positive outcomes for those with inflammatory conditions (conditions ending in “itis”).
Supports Cardiovascular Health
Clinical trials have found that astaxanthin improves blood lipid profiles, decreases inflammation, and reduces the effects of cardiovascular events.
Protects and promotes healthy skin
Astaxanthin is known to be an “internal sunscreen” as it prevents aging from UV exposure. This is why it is great for healthy aging, reducing wrinkles, and reducing the risk of skin cancer.
Protects against cancer
It’s safe to say this is a priority to everyone reading this. There are many things you can do to protect yourself from carcinogens (cancer-causing agents), and adding in astaxanthin to your routine is a great way to promote health at the cellular level.
How to Consume Astaxanthin
The range of astaxanthin that is typically recommended is 4mg-12mg/day.
I believe in a food-first approach! When it comes to astaxanthin, however, few people consume enough salmon or sea vegetables each day to amount to sufficient levels of this nutrient. There is about 1mg of astaxanthin in each ounce of wild sockeye salmon, which means you’d need about 4 ounces of salmon each day to achieve the lowest recommended amount of astaxanthin. That’s a lot of salmon each week.
Another option is to use an astaxanthin supplement. You’ll want to make sure that it is natural astaxanthin, not synthetic. You can learn more about which brand I trust for this, right here.
Had you ever heard of astaxanthin before reading this? Share below!
Hannah is the founder of Healthfully Hannah and is a nutrition professional empowering women to live healthfully through science-based, step-by-step guidance. Read Hannah’s health journey that led her to discover the power of Functional Medicine and Nutrition. Get in touch with Hannah right here.
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