Unless you have been living under a rock for the last couple of decades, chances are that you are familiar with antioxidants. You probably know that they are essential for keeping your body healthy, warding off chronic illness and helping your skin become radiant and youthful looking. Being armed with this knowledge, you might make a point of including antioxidant-rich foods in your diet, taking supplements and checking the labels of your skin care products for some of the more popular antioxidants such as Vitamin E, Vitamin C and green tea extract. Just when you think that you know everything there is to know about antioxidants, a new one by the name of Astaxanthin enters the scene, and it looks like it is the most powerful yet.
Astaxanthin is generating a great deal of excitement and energy in the scientific, cosmetic and medical communities and is being touted as nature’s “super antioxidant.” Just how powerful is astaxanthin? When comparing antioxidant potency, astaxanthin has proven to be five hundred times more powerful than Vitamin E, eight hundred times stronger than CoQ10 and an incredible six thousand times more potent than Vitamin C.
Astaxanthin is a carotenoid, which is a naturally occurring pigment that presents itself with yellow, orange and red colorization. Carotenoids are commonly found in plants, algae and bacteria. You can find them in common produce such as carrots, red bell peppers and beets. As humans, we are unable to synthesize and produce carotenoids ourselves, so we must take them in from food sources, supplements or topical applications. Of the approximately six hundred known carotenoids, the most antioxidant-potent one available is astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin is most commonly found in marine plants and some marine animals, such as salmon. It is also the pigment responsible for the reddish colored exoskeletons of lobsters and crabs.
What separates astaxanthin from other powerful antioxidants is its unique chemical structure. Antioxidants work to fight off damaging free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that have lost an electron and go off in search of one to steal from a healthy molecule. While you will always have some number of free radicals roaming around in your body, certain lifestyle and environmental factors can increase your free radical population.
Antioxidants are molecules that neutralize free radicals by donating their excess electrons. Once an antioxidant donates their electrons to a free radical, it is possible for them to degrade and become a pro-oxidant themselves through a chemical reaction that is best explained by a chemistry professor rather than myself. Astaxanthin has a surplus of electrons and therefore has more electrons to give to fight off more free radicals, and to top it off, it never breaks down chemically like other antioxidants. Astaxanthin also has the unique ability of being able to integrate between both the fatty and watery parts of your cells, meaning that it penetrates the cell membranes and protects all types of cells.
Benefits of Astaxanthin
If you have now read enough about what astaxanthin is to pique your curiosity, let me now tell you about some of the ways that astaxanthin can improve your appearance and health in general.
- Astaxanthin for Skin Health.
Astaxanthin has been shown to both prevent and reverse skin damage from sun exposure. Some of the marine plants that contain astaxanthin use the carotenoid to produce a protective barrier that shields and absorbs UV exposure from the sun. When you use skincare products that contain astaxanthin you are producing a similar effect, producing a type of internal sunscreen.
One study published in the Journal of Dermatological Science noted that astaxanthin could protect skin cells from the DNA mutations commonly caused by UV exposure. Astaxanthin has also been shown to be one hundred times stronger than beta carotene at reducing ultraviolet induced oxidative stress. While it would be inaccurate and negligent to suggest that the use of astaxanthin should replace your regular sunscreen, using the antioxidant in a complementary manner with your current skin care regime can prevent damage from the sun that can still occur even with sunscreen use. It can also help to repair previous sun damage before it has the chance to prematurely age your skin, or worse, lead to skin cancer.
Additionally, astaxanthin has been shown to improve the quality and appearance of skin in just about every way possible. Multiple studies have been conducted on the effect of astaxanthin on skin health. Most of the studies looked more specifically at how astaxanthin affected the skin of women in their thirties and forties. The results overwhelmingly showed that this powerful antioxidant reduces the appearance of fine lines, increased moisture retention, improved elasticity and evened out skin tone.
- Astaxanthin for Inflammation.
Inflammation is the precursor to almost every chronic health condition that we suffer from, and it affects approximately seventy -five percent of adults today. Prescription and non-prescription medications to treat inflammation and its associated health conditions make up a huge portion of the pharmaceutical market. Unfortunately, each of these medications come with their own set of side effects. Antioxidants can be a powerful ally in your holistic health arsenal. Astaxanthin, with all its antioxidant glory, is an especially powerful anti-inflammatory.
When you experience inflammation, your body creates substances called mediators such as histamines, nitric acid and prostaglandins. When you take an anti-inflammatory medication, such as an NSAID, the medication is working to destroy or neutralize the inflammatory mediators. Astaxanthin works against inflammation in the very same way that over the counter and prescription medications do, just without all the bad side effects. Studies of people with arthritis who took astaxanthin showed that four out of five participants displayed a marked reduction in inflammation, pain and symptoms. Those are some very impressive results that show just how potent the antioxidant strength of astaxanthin really is.
- Astaxanthin for Your Vision.
Even before cosmetic scientists really started looking at astaxanthin for overall health and beauty purposes, researchers were hard at work looking at how this amazing antioxidant can improve vision and even prevent loss of sight in some cases. Astaxanthin can cross the blood-retinal barrier, which means that is also acts as an anti-inflammatory for your eyes. It was shown to improve visual acuity and the ability to detect contrasts in people who were suffering from age related macular degeneration. Along with this, it has also been shown to be beneficial in treating and preventing cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.
So, how do you get a piece of the astaxanthin action? There are several ways that you can introduce this important antioxidant to your body. The first, of course, is through diet. You can find this powerful carotenoid in wild Pacific salmon, krill, shrimp, red trout, lobster and crab. To get the most astaxanthin, you always want to go with wild caught fish and seafood. When comparing wild Pacific salmon with salmon that has been farmed, the wild variety contained hundreds of times more astaxanthin than the farmed variety. The only real problem with relying on dietary sources for your all your astaxanthin requirements is that it can be difficult to consume enough to really see and feel the benefits. Even the wild Pacific salmon, which has the highest astaxanthin concentration, only comes in at a little over three milligrams of astaxanthin for a three-ounce serving of fish. It is suggested that you take in about eight to twelve milligrams of astaxanthin a day for maximum health and beauty benefits.
If it is astaxanthin’s miracle skin healing properties that interest you the most, you might choose to check out some of the all-natural skin care products that are enhanced with astaxanthin. Because of the unique way that astaxanthin can penetrate the cell membrane and infuse every cell, topical applications work quite wonderfully for rejuvenating the skin. Again, when it comes to ingredients, natural is best, so look for skin care products that contain astaxanthin from naturally derived sources.
Although Astaxanthin can be synthetically derived, research has shown that natural Astaxanthin is more effective than synthetic varieties. At OZNaturals, we source our Astaxanthin from natural microalgae known as Haematococcus pluvialis.
Keep in mind that because astaxanthin is a carotenoid, that it is going to have some color to it. OZNaturals’ skin care products contain small, but effective amounts of astaxanthin that can be delivered without worry of discoloration to your skin or clothing.
OZNaturals has been researching and using Astaxanthin for some time now. After extensive consultation with top formulation scientists, we have included it in our best-selling Pro-Retaxinol Retinol Serum, Vitamin C serum, and Ultra Ageless Eye Crème.
It seems like every day we hear of something new that is bad for us, something that we shouldn’t be doing, something that has been found to harm our health or cause disease. That is why it is so refreshing to hear about new discoveries in nature, such as astaxanthin, that heal and protect your body in some of the most amazing and complete ways. Astaxanthin isn’t just the newest buzz word on the health and beauty scene. It is a true antioxidant powerhouse that can help you look and feel more radiant than you have in years.