The rising consumer demand for astaxanthin-derived products has served as a stimulus for astaxanthin suppliers to set aside more time, money and effort to the research aimed at discovering the potential health benefits, and filling in any existing knowledge gaps, about this promising ingredient. Substantial clinical and preclinical research exists on the health benefits of this potent membrane-protective antioxidant, which also easily passes through the blood–brain and blood–retinal barrier. Numerous studies have shown astaxanthin supplementation may be beneficial for many of the processes and organs in the body. Below we've put a number of clinical studies performed on Astaxanthin on some of its key benefits:
Astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant carotenoid has been found to be highly effective in mopping up free radicals as it possesses anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic, and other beneficial pharmacological properties.
Many chemical reactions produce free radicals which are injurious to body cells, as they are the causes of many diseases, disabilities, and death.
Antioxidants suppress and mop up these circulating free radicals. In various studies, astaxanthin has been found to be a potent carotenoid as an antioxidant thereby protective to the body as studies have shown that it can possibly prevent cancer, enhances eye health, suppresses lipid peroxidation and atherosclerosis, enhances skin and brain health, and suppresses the formation of complications of diabetes mellitus.
Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant agent due to its unique molecular structure that makes it much stronger than other antioxidants such as vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E. Most other antioxidants are depleted after they’ve neutralized free radicals, but astaxanthin remains intact and active.
Conclusion: Astaxanthin, a highly potent xanthophylls carotenoid has multiple pharmacological properties, and oral supplements of this anti-oxidant are protective against a wide range of diseases.
Ekpe, Lawson & Inaku, Kenneth & Contact, Lawson & Ekpe, Victor. (2018). Antioxidant effects of astaxanthin in various diseases-a review. Oxidants and Antioxidants in Medical Science. 1-6. 10.5455/oams.20180315075538.
Zhang, L., & Wang, H. (2015). Multiple Mechanisms of Anti-Cancer Effects Exerted by Astaxanthin. Marine drugs, 13(7), 4310–4330. https://doi.org/10.3390/md13074310
Shimidzu & al. (1995). Carotenoids as Singlet Oxygen Quenchers in Marine Organisms. Fisheries Science 62(1), 134-137 .https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/fishsci1994/62/1/62_1_134/_pdf
Dose, Janina et al. “Free Radical Scavenging and Cellular Antioxidant Properties of Astaxanthin.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 17,1 103. 14 Jan. 2016, doi:10.3390/ijms17010103 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4730345/
Yiğit M, Güneş A, Uğuz C, et al. Effects of astaxanthin on antioxidant parameters in ARPE-19 cells on oxidative stress model. Int J Ophthalmol. 2019;12(6):930–935. Published 2019 Jun 18. doi:10.18240/ijo.2019.06.08 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6580212/
Régnier P, Bastias J, Rodriguez-Ruiz V, et al. Astaxanthin from Haematococcus pluvialis Prevents Oxidative Stress on Human Endothelial Cells without Toxicity. Mar Drugs. 2015;13(5):2857–2874. Published 2015 May 7. doi:10.3390/md13052857 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4446609/
Research has shown that astaxanthin can improve lipid profiles, and promote better blood flow. It has been proposed that astaxanthin may provide cardiovascular protection through reducing oxidative stress, which is one of the non-traditional risk factors for the development of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
The role of oxidative stress in cardiovascular disease is supported by evidence from observational studies that have found associations between antioxidant intake, oxidative stress and cardiovascular outcomes.
Pashkow FJ. & al. : Astaxanthin: a novel potential treatment for oxidative stress and inflammation in cardiovasculardisease. Am J Cardiol. 2008 May 22;101(10A):58D-68D. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2008.02.010. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18474276
Fassett RG, Coombes JS. Astaxanthin: a potential therapeutic agent in cardiovascular disease. Mar Drugs. 2011;9(3):447–465. Published 2011 Mar 21. doi:10.3390/md9030447 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3083660/
Fassett RG, Coombes JS. Astaxanthin in cardiovascular health and disease. Molecules. 2012;17(2):2030–2048. Published 2012 Feb 20. doi:10.3390/molecules17022030 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6268807/
A comprehensive human study performed on young healthy women has shown that dietary astaxanthin decreases a DNA damage biomarker and acute phase protein, and enhances immune responses.
Natural astaxanthin seems to improve the immune response by increasing the number of antibody producing cells and natural killer cell activity along the levels of both T cells and B cells. Natural astaxanthin enhances antibody production, and may also protect immune cells against oxidative stress and membrane damage.
These results suggest that supplementation with astaxanthin could be beneficial for the promotion of several aspects of overall health and the prevention of illness and disease.
Another study showed that astaxanthin enhances immune responses by stimulating the production of cytokines. Taken together, the results suggest that astaxanthin has potential value as a therapeutic or preventive agent for management of immune diseases.
Lin KH, Lin KC, Lu WJ, Thomas PA, Jayakumar T, Sheu JR. Astaxanthin, a Carotenoid, Stimulates Immune Responses by Enhancing IFN-γ and IL-2 Secretion in Primary Cultured Lymphocytes in Vitro and ex Vivo. Int J Mol Sci. 2015;17(1):44. Published 2015 Dec 29. doi:10.3390/ijms17010044 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4730289/
Park JS, Chyun JH, Kim YK, Line LL, Chew BP. Astaxanthin decreased oxidative stress and inflammation and enhanced immune response in humans. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2010;7:18. Published 2010 Mar 5. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-7-18 https://nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-7075-7-18
Miyachi M, Matsuno T, Asano K, Mataga I. Anti-inflammatory effects of astaxanthin in the human gingival keratinocyte line NDUSD-1. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2015;56(3):171–178. doi:10.3164/jcbn.14-109 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4454080/
Jaswir I., Monsur H.A. Anti-inflammatory compounds of macro algae origin: A review. J. Med. Plants Res. 2011;5:7146–7154. doi: 10.5897/JMPR11.018. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/4abf/4bacbca32e19401a11cb7bf938a41fa4403e.pdf
A study in humans to shows that astaxanthin supplementation has positive effect on physical performance. The result of this study is supported by earlier findings that astaxanthin supplementation in mice increase swimming time before exhaustion and that biomarkers of muscle fatigue decrease in humans after exercise due to supplementation.
It can be hypothised that astaxanthin protects the membrane structures of the cells, like mitochondrial membrane, against oxidative stress generated during heavy exercise and thereby preserve the functionality of the muscle cells.
In an additional experiment, it was found that astaxanthin treatment accelerated the decrease of body fat accumulation with exercise training. The results suggested that astaxanthin promoted lipid metabolism rather than glucose utilization during exercise, which led to improvement of endurance and efficient reduction of body fat with training.
The results of another study in humans suggests that astaxanthin supplementation is effective for improvement against bluntness of visual nerve acuity and for inhibition of lactic acid generation induced by the continuous muscular contracting activities (Improvement of activity in endurable hard exercise).
Another study examined the effect of Astaxanthin on substrate metabolism and cycling time trial performance by randomly assigning 21 competitive cyclists to 28 days of Astaxanthin supplementation (4 mg/per day) or placebo supplementation.
Overall, it was observed significant improvements in 20 km time trial performance in the Astaxanthin group, but not the placebo group. The Astaxanthin group was significantly different versus the placebo group. The Astaxanthin group significantly increased power output, while the placebo group did not.
Malmsten L. & al. (2018). Dietary Supplementation with Astaxanthin-Rich Algal Meal Improves Strength Endurance – A Double Blind Placebo Controlled Study on Male Students –. 13. https://tahomaclinic.com/Private/Articles3/Astaxanthin/Malmsten%202008%20-%20Astaxanthin-Rich%20Algal%20Meal%20Improves%20Strength%20Endurance.pdf
Aoi W et al., Astaxanthin improves muscle lipid metabolism in exercise via inhibitory effect of oxidative CPT I modification. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2008;366(4):892-97. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18082622
Sawaki K et al., Sports performance benefits from taking natural astaxanthin Characterized by visual acuity and muscular fatigue improvement in humans. J Clin Ther Med 2002;18(9):1085-100. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Sports-Performance-Benefits-from-Taking-Natural-*-Sawaki-Yoshigi/070cb91945b590ce450294a3c2c096d38d2c402f
Earnest CP et al., Effect of astaxanthin on cycling time trial performance. Int J Sports Med. 2011;32(11):882-88. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21984399
Liu SZ, Ali AS, Campbell MD, et al. Building strength, endurance, and mobility using an astaxanthin formulation with functional training in elderly. J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle. 2018;9(5):826–833. doi:10.1002/jcsm.12318 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6204600/
Fukamauchi M et al., Food functionality of astaxathin-10: Synergistic effects of astaxanthin intake and aerobic exercise. Food Style 21. 2007;11:1-4.
Sztretye M, Dienes B, Gönczi M, et al. Astaxanthin: A Potential Mitochondrial-Targeted Antioxidant Treatment in Diseases and with Aging. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2019;2019:3849692. Published 2019 Nov 11. doi:10.1155/2019/3849692
Sawaki K et al., Sports performance benefits from taking natural astaxanthin Characterized by visual acuity and muscular fatigue improvement in humans. J Clin Ther Med 2002;18(9):1085-100.
Takami M, Aoi W, Terajima H, Tanimura Y, Wada S, Higashi A. Effect of dietary antioxidant-rich foods combined with aerobic training on energy metabolism in healthy young men. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2019;64(1):79–85. doi:10.3164/jcbn.18-40 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6348409/
one of astaxanthin’s most exciting roles is in promoting and protecting the health of the eyes. The pathogenesis of a range of eye disorders has been attributed to cellular oxidative damage from singlet oxygen and free radical generation.
These contributing factors indicate the potential benefits of astaxanthin as an antioxidant supplement for eye health. An extensive range of clinical trials and in vitro research have investigated the effects of astaxanthin in the prevention and treatment of eye diseases, as well as maintaining healthy eye function.
The benefits of astaxanthin range from reducing eye strain to having a potential role in the treatment of age-related macular degeneration. Its ability to cross the blood-retinal brain barrier and accumulate in the retina adds to astaxanthin’s benefits in the treatment of eye diseases.
Several studies report the effect of astaxanthin to improve accommodative ability as efficacy in the eye. It is supposed that the improvement effect on accommodative ability of astaxanthin should be associated with its action to increase blood flow in the retinal capillaries.
Nakajima Y. & al. : Astaxanthin, a dietary carotenoid, protects retinal cells against oxidative stress in-vitro and in mice in-vivo. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2008 Oct;60(10):1365-74. doi: 10.1211/jpp/60.10.0013. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18812030
Nakamura A et al., Changes in Visual Function Following Peroral Astaxanthin. Jpn J Clin Opthalmol. 2004;58:1051-54.
Saito M et al., Astaxanthin increases choroidal blood flow velocity. Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2012;250:239-45. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22072378
Nagaki Y et al., Effect of astaxanthin on accommodation and asthenopia. Folia Ophthalomogica Japonica. 2010;3(5):461-68. http://luteza.com/documents/10a.pdf
Nagaki Y et al., The supplementation effect of astaxanthin on accommodation and asthenopia. J Clin Therap Med. 2006;22:41-54.
Nitta T et al., Effects of astaxanthin on accommodation and asthenopia – Dose finding study in healthy volunteers. J Clin Therap Med. 2005;21(5):534-56. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Effect-of-Astaxanthin-on-Accommodation-and-Study-in-KENJI-Kazuhiro/6bb985401984dfc2631552099f83decc115f3871
Nagaki Y et al., Effects of astaxanthin on accommodation, critical flicker fusions, and pattern visual evoked potential in visual display terminal workers. J Trad Med. 2002;19:170-73. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/13bf/024ccc9a07f88a36046d7d730d808c9fa37c.pdf
Oxidative stress caused by UV-light, smoking and pollution has been explained to have a major impact in the process of skin aging. Free radicals damage skin cells and destroy the collagen network which leads to sagging and wrinkles.
The interest of astaxanthin as an anti-wrinkle agent is growing among researches due to its natural capacity to protect cells from irradiation and oxidation. Astaxanthin is produced by the algae Haematococcus pluvialis to protect its cells from sun radiation, UV-light and oxidation. Several human studies demonstrated that astaxanthin reduced wrinkles and improved skin elasticity and moisture. The results are confirmed by animal studies.
The mechanism of action of astaxanthin is explained by its strong antioxidant capacity and its protective effects against sun irradiation. In vitro studies have demonstrated that astaxanthin improves the function of mitochondria and has good protective effects on human fibroblasts. In that way, it can protect skin cells from free radicals and preserve the collagen layer which result in smooth and youthful appearance of the skin.
The results indicate that astaxanthin has promising anti-wrinkle effects and that it can be helpful in reducing the skin aging process.
Tominaga K, Hongo N, Fujishita M, Takahashi Y, Adachi Y. Protective effects of astaxanthin on skin deterioration. Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition. 2017;61(1):33-39. doi:10.3164/jcbn.17-35. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28751807
Tominaga K., Hongo N., Karato M., Yamashita E. Cosmetic benefits of astaxanthin on human subjects. Acta Biochim. Pol. 2012;59:43–47. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22428137
Suganuma K et al., Anti-aging and functional improvement effects for the skin by functional foods intake : clinical effects on skin by oral ingestion of preparations containing Astaxanthin and Vitamins C and E. Jichi Medical University Journal. 2012;35:25-33.
Satoh A et al., Effects of the lntake of astaxanthin on the reduction of skin darkling induced by uv irradiation in adult women. Oyo Yakuri Pharmacometrics. 2011;80(1/2):7-11.
Tominaga K et al., Cosmetic effects of astaxanthin for all layers of skin. Food Style 21. 2009;13(10):25-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22428137
Yamashita E, The effects of a dietary supplement containing astaxanthin on skin condition. Carotenoid Science. 2006;10:91-5.
University of Hawaii Cancer Center. "Astaxanthin compound found to switch on the FOX03 'Longevity Gene' in mice." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 March 2017. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170328092428.htm
Ito N, Seki S, Ueda F. The Protective Role of Astaxanthin for UV-Induced Skin Deterioration in Healthy People-A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2018;10(7):817. Published 2018 Jun 25. doi:10.3390/nu10070817 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6073124/
Davinelli S, Nielsen ME, Scapagnini G. Astaxanthin in Skin Health, Repair, and Disease: A Comprehensive Review. Nutrients. 2018;10(4):522. Published 2018 Apr 22. doi:10.3390/nu10040522 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5946307/
Astaxanthin is receiving attention for its effect on the prevention or co-treatment of neurological pathologies, including Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases.
Many studies and reviews focus on the neuroprotective properties of astaxanthin and explore the underlying mechanisms to counteract neurological diseases, mainly based on its capability to cross the blood-brain barrier and its oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-apoptotic properties.
Astaxanthin exerts a strong protective effect on human brain; its unique chemical structure allows it to readily cross the blood-brain barrier. Thus, the brain is considered the most important target organ of astaxanthin.
Grimmig B. & al. : Neuroprotective mechanisms of astaxanthin: a potential therapeutic role in preserving cognitive function in age and neurodegeneration. Geroscience. 2017 Feb;39(1):19-32. doi: 10.1007/s11357-017-9958-x. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5352583/
Galasso C, Orefice I, Pellone P, et al. On the Neuroprotective Role of Astaxanthin: New Perspectives?. Mar Drugs. 2018;16(8):247. Published 2018 Jul 24. doi:10.3390/md16080247 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6117702/
Talbott, Shawn & Hantla, Don & Capelli, Bob & Ding, Lixin & Li, Yanmei & Artaria, Christian. (2019). Effect of Astaxanthin Supplementation on Psychophysiological Heart-Brain Axis Dynamics in Healthy Subjects. Functional Foods in Health and Disease. 9. 521-531. 10.31989/ffhd.v9i8.636. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/335928279_Effect_of_Astaxanthin_Supplementation_on_Psychophysiological_Heart-Brain_Axis_Dynamics_in_Healthy_Subjects
Han, J.H.; Lee, Y.S.; Im, J.H.; Ham, Y.W.; Lee, H.P.; Han, S.B.; Hong, J.T. Astaxanthin Ameliorates Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Neuroinflammation, Oxidative Stress and Memory Dysfunction through Inactivation of the Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3 Pathway. Mar. Drugs 2019, 17, 123. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6410230/