Antioxidants are being added to everything from breakfast cereal to soda these days, all in the hope of helping you feel your best longer.
Astaxanthin is one you may not have heard of, which can be found in some very interesting places.
What Is Astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin is a type of antioxidant known as a carotenoid. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, there are more than 700 types of antioxidants. Carotenoids provide color to the plants they're found in. Astaxanthin provides a pink or red hue to the plant, and, as a result, it imparts that color on the animals that strictly consume those foods. You can find astaxanthin in Haematococcus pluvialis, a form of microalgae and then in the animals that consume it. This microalgae is actually responsible for the pink color of flamingoes!
The source you're most familiar with is salmon, which is often used in the production of fish oil supplements, which then contain the added benefit of astaxanthin. Another great source of this antioxidant (as well as omega-3s like salmon), is krill, which is a small crustacean similar to a shrimp.
Why Take Astaxanthin?
As previously stated, astaxanthin is an antioxidant. We need antioxidants to protect the cells of the body against free radicals, which are a byproduct of energy production throughout the body. These compounds can cause oxidative stress on the cells, which can lead to damage and aging of the cell.
For this reason, many turn to astaxanthin to look after the health of the entire body. Specifically, astaxanthin may benefit the brain and eyes, preventing degeneration common with age. It's also taken to support the cardiovascular system and keep the immune system strong to fight illness. By preventing the free radical damage, astaxanthin may be able to reduce your risk for cognitive and cardiovascular disorders as well as macular degeneration. Antioxidants also benefit all the tissues of the body -- taking antioxidants helps keep the skin healthy with a youthful appearance.
An eight-week 2010 study published in the medical journal Nutrition and metabolism found healthy young females who took astaxanthin daily saw increased immune function and a reduced DNA damage biomarker. A 2011 study published in Marine drugs looked at astaxanthin as a possible therapy for heart disease found this potent antioxidant showed promise as a possible therapy and encouraged further study.
Larger human studies are needed to conform the exact actions of astaxanthin within the body as well as its proven benefits.
Getting More Astaxanthin
You can get astaxanthin into your diet by consuming forms of seafood known to be high in this antioxidant. Those foods include salmon and lobster. However, if you're looking for a stronger dose, or cannot consume seafood, supplements are available in varying strengths. As with all supplements, speak with your doctor before adding an astaxanthin supplement to your routine -- there are no reported negative side effects at this time, but if you're being treated for a medical condition, it's always best to check first.
Astaxanthin can help you protect the entire body from the damage of free radicals. Shop for astaxanthin supplements and more at eVitamins Canada and save!
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