Astaxanthin sounds like something used to poison someone…
But it’s actually the opposite…and may have tremendous health benefits. Okay, maybe I’m thinking of anthrax…lol.
What is Astaxanthin
Astaxanthin is a pigment and antioxidant found in fish foods. Shrimp, crab and salmon are the highest sources. But my favorite source is salmon roe — a food with a tremendous amount of benefits. Add this to the list…
A common theme of my writing: we all have amnesia…especially when it comes to eating.
So called nutritionists today have forgotten the ancient wisdom of our animal eating ancestors and it’s come back to bite us in the ass.
Animal products are loaded with compounds that are critical for optimizing your health. Food is much more than protein and calories.
Astaxanthin is a testament to that…
And this may help explain why so many ancient cultures prized salmon roe as sacred.
Here are some of the biggest benefits of astaxanthin
8 Benefits of Astaxanthin
Astaxanthin is an antioxidant…one of the common ten dollar buzzwords tossed around these days.
What does that actually mean?
Oxidative stress plays a crucial role in human health and disease.
Some researchers believe in something called the oxidative theory of aging. This theory suggests that aging and disease is a function of oxidation.
Oxidation occurs when an unpaired electron reacts with another molecule, taking an ion from it. Think of this like a single person at the end of a night at the bar doing just about anything to pair up with somebody…
Oxidation is a natural process that is critical to life. Oxidative stress, however, is when there is an imbalance in your body between oxidation and reduction.
Ultimately this can lead to disease.
The challenge is that we’re now bombarded with more oxidative stressors than ever well beyond what we’ve historically been exposed to.Everything from the food, to the water, to chemicals present in furniture, clothes and perfumes.
We’re almost living in a less severe chernobyl…
One way to fight back is through exogenous antioxidants which can provide a pair to the unpaired electron.
Astaxanthin recently has caught interest as a powerful antioxidant. An antioxidant works by donating an electron to the free radical, thereby stabilizing it. It sacrifices itself in exchange for your health. How noble!
One study found that astaxanthin was able to reduce the impact of ROS on proteins in skeletal muscle. For instance, they found that lipid peroxidation was reduced with astaxanthin..
Additionally, in this study 45 days of treatment with astaxanthin was able to increase glutathione — an endogenous antioxidant — content in mitochondria during exercise .
This research is preliminary, but astaxanthin may be an effective way to combat free radical damage.
If you believe you have high oxidative stress, this could be a good way to combat it.
#2 Aids Skin Health and May Prevent Against Skin Aging
Beef liver and salmon roe are the ultimate skin 1-2 punch. I call them the carnivore botox
Skin aging is hypothesized to be driven by two things: biological aging (ROS + senescence, etc) and UV rays. Photoaging damages the components of the cells such as collagen and elastin which causes wrinkles. UV light can lead to wrinkles at excess levels.
Astaxanthin has been shown in some studies to help with both.
Supplementation has helped with skin elasticity, wrinkles and skin barrier integrity in studies.
2mg of astaxanthin a day and 3mg of collagen significantly improved skin elasticity and barrier integrity in this study. I don’t know about you but I want a strong barrier.
Other studies show that astaxanthin can actually help with skin DNA repair as measured by
Additionally, ASX supplementation was able to help fend off wrinkles in this one study.
Lastly, a double blind placebo controlled study with 65 female volunteers showed that ASX dose dependently decreased inflammation and inflammatory cytokines.
How do you think my porcelain skin never wrinkles??
#3 Cognitive Function
Astaxanthin may also help brain health. And if there’s one thing the world needs right now, it’s better cognitive function.
Studies have shown in animals that ASX can help with two main things: (1) slowing damage from aging in the brain and (2) supercharging cognitive function .
Some even say that the movie limitless was based off of liver and salmon roe together.
In a study, astaxanthin slow decline from brain aging . Now this is one of the things that people are most terrified when it comes to aging…losing their cognitive abilities. This is a huge reason why I try to get some ASX in my diet every day.
Other studies in rats have shown that astaxanthin can elevate BDNF — a growth factor that helps brain cells survive and grow new ones
I don;t know how people have not woken up to this yet.
But this is a true brain superfood.
#4 Improve Immune Function
Suppression of the immune system has far reaching consequences beyond susceptibility to the common cold. Some researchers suggest that suppression of the immune system can even contribute to cancers such as melanoma.
Astaxanthin can help to upregulate and enhance the immune system. Some in vitro studies show that AXS enhances immunoglobulin production by t cells. In dogs and cats ASX also increased natural killer cell cytotoxic activity .
This is the system that surveils against tumors and viruses.
If your immune system is always disabled and doesn’t have the components it needs to function it will be like the purge inside your body….a completely disabled police force.
#5 May Help with Insulin Sensitivity and Type 2 Diabetes
One of the best predictors of healthy aging is insulin sensitivity. Insulin sensitivity refers to how much insulin it takes for a cell to respond to its actions.
The most pathological state to be in is one where you have both insulin resistance and high fasting insulin. This means that insulin levels remain chronically high and it is also impotent.
Astaxanathin could improve insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake.
This study showed that astaxanthin accumulation in skeletal muscle ameliorates insulin secretion and improved beta cell function .
Another study showed that astaxanthin treatment of 8mg / day for 8 weeks helped patients with type 2 diabetes reduce visceral fat, triglycerides levels, VLDL levels and blood pressure. Pretty remarkable that one animal component can reduce this constellation of issues that plagues the world today.
#6 Muscle Endurance
Astaxanthin has also shown some benefits for exercise performance in mice. Most of you are probably not mice…but it may be worth giving this a shot if you exercise frequently.
One study tested how long it took mice to reach exhaustion after running and found that astaxanthin treatment over 4 weeks increased their endurance.
One of the reasons why is because it increased metabolic flexibility and allowed the mice to switch over from glucose to fat metabolism.
Now imagine combining this with beef liver which has been shown to make rats swim up to 5x longer.
I wouldn’t be shocked if this combo is banned in sports…
#7 Heart Function
There are a number of encouraging studies showing that ASX could improve a myriad of heart functions.
Studies have shown that astaxanthin may benefit everything from blood flow to cholesterol levels.
In this study on patients with heart failure, three months of astaxanthin supplementation helped with exercise tolerance and cardiac contractility .
In animal studies, astaxanthin has been shown to protect the heart from damage after heart attacks.
The benefits of this superantoxidant are far reaching.
#8 Male fertility
Seriously…what can’t this thing do….
Last but not least, astaxanthin has been shown to benefit male fertility.
Masculinity is cratering today. Male grip strength and testosterone are both rapidly declining.
A man’s fertility is usually a good barometer of his health. That’s why I was so excited to see this study.
In this double blind RCT, 30 men with infertility of > 2 months were studied. The group receiving astaxanthin had pregnancy rates of 54% and 23% vs 10% and 4%. An almost 5 times difference in fertility.
This is an absolutely remarkable study. A huge reason why is because many sperm and infertility problems are caused by oxidative stress that astaxanthin can ameliorate.
Now couple this with beef liver and you have a heck of a duo.
If you’re interested in trying astaxanthin, toss away the pills and try some real food.
My preferred way to get astaxanthin is with salmon roe — especially because it’s packed with so many other beneficial nutrients.