Astaxanthin – ASTA ZAN THIN. Never heard of it? It’s the red stuff in seafood – think salmon. As an antioxidant, it’s 6000 times more powerful than vitamin C. Studies have shown it to be effective in relieving the symptoms of eye stress from too much computer use. Good information for those of use spending more time online.
I take Astaxanthin every day and have for years. It is one of the most remarkable natural products and the most powerful antioxidant known. It is produced by algae so it’s OK for vegans. It works its way up the food chain in nature. It’s what makes krill and krill oil red. We can benefit from taking it directly. There is a huge amount of research showing protection against heart disease, cataract formation, dementia, and even sunburn! When I am going to the beach, I load up ahead of time and never get a burn! That’s because it’s such a potent antioxidant. Chemically similar to vitamin A but 50 times more potent at quenching free radicals, it has no known toxicity. Astaxanthin is one of the best ways to protect yourself against the hazards of modern life. Many sources use 2 or 4 mg per dose which I think is too low to be really effective. I use one 12 mg gelcap a day.
A capsule of Astaxanthin is a red so dark it almost looks black. That is because the color is so dense. If you accidentally break a capsule open is will spread bright red pigment over a large area. The red pigment means it absorbs light such as sunlight. It is a long chain with lots of double bonds meaning it can take on and harmlessly quench lots of free radical electrons. I like to think of these long chains just resonating like a molecular tuning fork. The long chains will become included in the cell wall of any cell where they will be on hand to protect that cell. This is true in the brain and especially in the retina of the eye. On study suggested improvement in fertility when given to men.
There is no known toxic dose unlike it’s cousin Vitamin A. Several sites suggest that too much Astaxanthin can cause digestive upset. Or that it could cause skin pigmentation. These issues are only with very high doses. I have never seen any issues myself or in any patient. It’s pricey enough that most people stick to a moderate dose. At 12 mg. per day I and others have found it protective against sun burn.
Even though we know of Astaxanthin in seafood, it is a vegan product. It is produced by algae. Krill, tiny shrimp-like creatures, eat the algae and it is transported up the food chain. It is possible to take it as krill oil but it is difficult to get therapeutic amounts. The best Astaxanthin is grown in controlled, shallow pools in Hawaii. That’s the kind I use.
From the paper: “Astaxanthin Relieves Computer Eye Strain” Journal of Clinical Therapeutics & Medicines 2006 22(1):41-54.
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