Anti-inflammatory – Antioxidant
Astaxanthin is derived from the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis
Astaxanthin is a red colored carotenoid pigment that naturally occurs in most marine crustaceans and some species of fish. It is responsible for the reddish tinge that usually accompanies these animals, a prominent example being the pink colored flesh of the salmon fish. Salmon has been associated with numerous health benefits; in turn some of these have been traced to astaxanthin. Some of those mentioned benefits are in the areas of eye health, joint health and heart health.
- Astaxanthin has an antioxidant action up to 500 times that of vitamin E, which has led some experts to term it as “Super Vitamin E”.
- Astaxanthin is the most stable antioxidant. Typically, an antioxidant becomes unstable after quenching a free radical, and in the process becomes a free radical itself. However, astaxanthin due to its unique molecular structure that allows it to span the cell’s lipid bi-layer and also because of its long double-bonded chain, can stabilize free radicals by adding them to its structure, rather than sacrificing an atom or electron. This makes it a better antioxidant than others.
- Astaxanthin’s low molecular weight and unique structure combine in allowing it to cross the “Blood Brain Barrier”, and the “Blood Retina Barrier”, making it available to the eye, brain and central nervous system. This helps alleviate oxidative stress that has been shown to contribute to ocular and neurodegenerative diseases involving memory loss and vision problems.
- Astaxanthin exhibits three types of isomerism. They are the 3S,3’S, 3R,3’S, and 3R,3’R stereoisomer’s. Of the three, the 3S, 3’S isomers are the most stable and is believed to be an adaptive feature to be able to store astaxanthin in tissues without excessive oxidation.
- The 3S, 3’S stereoisomer is the main form found in Haematococcus pluvialis, synthetic astaxanthin contains the 3R 3’S isomer, which is not convertible to the more common and natural 3S 3’S form. Therefore, Haematococcus pluvialis is the best source of astaxanthin for human applications
- Astaxanthin has been studied to have very powerful anti-inflammatory properties, hence enhancing its function in eye, heart and joint health.