Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant (scavenging free radicals) that improves the immune system by exerting actions on T-cells and T-helper cells. Unlike most antioxidants, astaxanthin is fat-soluble, thus it gets carried to parts of the body where it can do the most good, such as the eyes (retinas), brain, breast tissue, prostate tissue, and skeletal muscles. Astaxanthin is a pink/red carotenoid pigment sometimes called the “king of the carotenoids” and is produced by algae.
When crabs, lobster, shrimp, crawfish, and salmon eat the algae, the astaxanthin content is what turns their meat red. Astaxanthin gets into the retinas of the eyes and can help with macular degeneration. It helps with inflammation (such as tendonitis, arthritis, and all the other “itis” diseases), and it also penetrates the tissues of the pancreas and helps repair beta cells (which secrete insulin) thus stabilizing blood sugar. Astaxanthin also offsets the deleterious effects of radiation, helps with back pain, and is one of the few substances that cross the blood-brain barrier.
Astaxanthin may also have positive effects in preventing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition. Twelve weeks of supplementation with astaxanthin were associated with significant reductions in levels of compounds called phospholipid hydroperoxides (PLOOH), known to accumulate abnormally in the red blood cells (erythrocytes) of people with dementia, compared with placebo. Researchers (led by Kiyotaka Nakagawa from Tohoku University) report that, astaxanthin may “contribute to the prevention of dementia.”