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Issue 155: Overnight Sensation

Overnight Sensation

Four minutes can really make a difference. On a recent Dr. Oz Show, Dr. Mehmet Oz aired a segment called, “Astaxanthin: the number one supplement you’ve never heard of that you should be taking.” Oz interviewed Dr. Joseph Mercola, who spoke about astaxanthin’s bioavailability as well as its benefits for eye health and sports performance. Likewise, “Health Ranger” Mike Adams called astaxanthin “the little-known miracle nutrient for healthy inflammation, aging, athletic endurance and more.”

Speaking of healthy inflammation. . . author Suzy Cohen, RpH, America’s Most Trusted Pharmacist™, says that astaxanthin’s healthy inflammation properties are “just as good as noted pharmaceuticals but not as fast”—and without the unwanted side effects, we might add. Cohen also highlighted extensive research on astaxanthin.

These aren’t the only ones talking about astaxanthin, however. Robert Corish, M.D. recommends astaxanthin in his book, A Guide to Men’s Health, and says that astaxanthin can support joint, skin, eye and cardiovascular health. New York Times’ best-selling author and dermatologist, Nicholas Perricone, M.D., also lauds astaxanthin’s positive effects on the skin.

Astaxanthin’s not new to the health scene, however. It’s just getting more recognition these days.

If you don’t already know, astaxanthin is the reason why some sea-faring creatures appear red. This red carotenoid pigment is produced by microalgae called Haematococcus pluvialis—a big name for such small organisms. In fact, astaxanthin is found in marine sea animals—such as salmon—that dine on these microalgae, and it’s what gives salmon and other catches from the sea their red pigment.

But let’s back up the train a little bit and talk about carotenoids and previous findings about astaxanthin that were on the scene even before its recent “four minutes of fame.” Carotenoids are naturally-occurring, fat-soluble pigments found in plants that give color to red, yellow, orange fruits and vegetables as well as several dark green vegetables. And while there are a number of them, the most abundant carotenoids in the North American diet are beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, gamma-carotene, lycopene, lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin and astaxanthin.

Closely related to beta-carotene and lutein, astaxanthin has been shown in earlier studies to provide antioxidant benefits and, therefore, may play a role in defending cell membranes from free radical attack. Additionally, some previous findings indicate that astaxanthin can support a healthy heart and healthy cholesterol levels already in the normal range.

Its antioxidant effects extend beyond this, however, and astaxanthin is purported to maintain eye health and support skin structure during sun exposure. Prior findings also noted astaxanthin’s ability to support neurological health. And don’t forget its healthy effects on the immune system. Astaxanthin is said to support a healthy immune system by supporting normal antibody-producing cells.

An additional discovery made about astaxanthin is that it may boost metabolism—especially during exercise—and may support muscle endurance. That is, at least, what was observed in a past study. Researchers from the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology compiled a report on the astaxanthin animal study in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry. Lead author Mayuni Ikeuchi inferred that there may be a causal link from ingesting astaxanthin and successful weight management. In short, astaxanthin demonstrated a potential, positive weight management effect among the mice that were studied. More research, particularly human, is warranted for these exciting findings.

The truth is that astaxanthin’s been around for a while, but it’s recently become an overnight sensation—and you can bet you’ll continue to see and hear more about this amazing carotenoid.


This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

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