In our last post, I mentioned that I have been taking a supplement to help boost my antioxidant intake, thereby protecting me from dangerous levels of radiation and other oxidative stress. This is something I take daily, year-round, whether or not I’m going to be exposed to radiation while traveling.
This stuff is amazing. Not only can taking it regularly help to defend against damage to your body from ionizing radiation, it provides an unmatched level of antioxidants to repair tissue damage throughout your body, boosting your immune system and helping to prevent disease and slow the aging process. Sign me up, right? This naturally-derived supplement is called astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin: The algae that heals, protects, and prevents DNA damage
Astaxanthin is a natural carotenoid extracted from a marine algae found in… you guessed it — Hawaii! Well, at least the kind that I buy is made from algae harvested here in our islands. The blue-green pigment in certain types of marine microalgae is the richest natural source of the astaxanthin carotenoid. And astaxanthin, is the most potent lipid-soluable source for antioxidants known to man! This superfood supplement has lots of powerful benefits, including:
- Protection against cosmic ionizing radiation while flying: The next-best thing to flying at night, and thereby avoiding radiation at 1,000 times the level that the airport body scanners will give you, is supplementing regularly with astaxanthin, according to health expert and Weston A Price Foundation supporter, Dr. Mercola. When taken for at least two weeks before a flight, it can significantly prevent DNA damage from cosmic ionizing radiation.
- Prevention of sunburn and skin cancer: Astaxanthin is nature’s internal sunscreen. Really! It matters not just what you put onto your body, but what you put into it, to protect against sun damage from overexposure. You should be getting healthy, moderate levels of sun exposure for natural production of vitamin D and a whole host of other health benefits, but in case you overdo it, astaxanthin will help to protect your skin. It has a strong photoprotective effect, which helps your skin to block an overabundance of ultraviolet rays.
- Energy boost: Astaxanthin helps increase cellular energy by protecting mitochondria, in which food is turned into energy. I experience a significant increase in energy levels when I take my astaxanthin. I have found that I can’t take it late in the day, because it makes me too alert to wind down for sleeping at night. Not in a jittery, caffeine-like way, just a sense of energized wellness.
- Anti-aging: Astaxanthin can help prevent and reverse the signs of aging, including wrinkles, sun spots, sagging skin, dryness and even freckles. It improves skin’s elasticity and moisture content while preventing the cellular damage that leads to premature aging.
- Prevention of cataracts and other eye diseases: Appropriate doses of astaxanthin virtually eliminate the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
- Vision improvement: Astaxanthin has been shown to boost both visual acuity and depth perception, and can be a significant aid in the natural treatment of myopia and hyperopia (nearsightedness and farsightedness).
- Anti-inflammatory: Oxidative stress is responsible for inflammation in the body which can lead to many health problems. Rich sources of antioxidants, such as astaxanthin, offer powerful protection against inflammatory oxidation.
- Prevents heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes: Because of its powerful anti-inflammatory effects, astaxanthin offers powerful prevention against inflammatory conditions such as heart disease. (Oh, and so does the dietary cholesterol your doctor tells you to avoid!)
- Treatment and prevention of ulcers: Scientists in India have researched astaxanthin’s ability to protect against gastric ulcers, and found it to be effective at reducing the occurance of ulcers up to 67% in tested rats.
- Supports brain function: Unlike most other antioxidant sources, astaxanthin has the unique ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, allowing its antioxidant activity to enter into the central nervous system which is very susceptable to free radical damage. Because of its ability to protect neurons from damage, astaxanthin is also effective at preventing alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
- Boosts physical performance: Athletes have been shown to recover from exercise quickly and effectively with an astaxanthin supplement. It helps to increase strength, stamina and endurance by removing free radicals from muscle tissue, lessening soreness and helping the body rebound from the stress of exercise.
- Supports immune function: Researchers have shown that astaxanthin increases antibody production in spleen cells which enhances immunoglobulin production in response to increased T-cell activity. In other words, astaxanthin has been shown to be effective in both chronic viral and autoimmune disease, as well as preventing common colds and flus.
- Joint and skeletal health: Astaxanthin works to diminish pain and inflammation of joints due to exercise or chronic conditions such as rheumetoid arthritis.
- Tendon health: Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, astaxanthin offers powerful protection and relief from inflammation of the tendons, including tennis elbow (tendonitis), and carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Detoxification: The liver needs to oxidize fats to produce energy, as well as work to destroy pathogens and clean up dead red blood cells. These processes create free radicals in the blood, which are greatly reduced by the powerful antioxidant effects of astaxanthin.
- Fertility: Astaxanthin is thought by researchers to improve sperm cell potency, as they have seen it drastically increase fertility and rates of conception in those who struggle with low sperm count or poor-quality sperm cells.
- Cancer prevention: Researchers around the globe have documented astaxanthin’s amazing cancer-fighting properties, including its ability to turn on and repair anti-cancer genes, block pro-cancer genes, prevent metastasis of cancer cells, and stop tumors in their tracks.
Whew! That’s a lot of power from just a little green plant! There are even more benefits to astaxanthin that continue to be discovered. It’s truly amazing what this supplement can do.
…but only if you eat your fats.
Astaxanthin is the most powerful lipid-soluble source of antioxidants we know of. That means that it can only be assimilated into the body with a sufficient amount of dietary fat. So be sure not to skimp on sources of healthy fats such as lard, tallow, coconut oil, olive oil, and of course, butter.
Astaxanthin supplements can be found at most health food stores, but the best prices I have found are on Amazon. Plus, you can help to support this site and pay for future giveaway prizes (which would be much appreciated!) by ordering online here:
Sources and additional information:
Natural Astaxanthin: King of the Carotenoids
Astaxanthin is Age and Disease Defying Miracle Nutrient from Microalgae
[photo source: jdnx on Flickr]
Do you know if this brand contains magnesium stearate or other additives? I will buy through your link if it doesn’t!
The label says, “Other Ingredients: safflower oil, gelatin, glycerin, purified water.” So, nope nothing too scary. Thanks, Alison!
Err, ButterBeliever, we don’t believe in PUFAs, so why buy a product containing safflower oil?
Seems totally counter-intuitive to have such junk in a product…
Because there isn’t one on the market that contains no PUFA-heavy oils. It could actually be high-oleic sunflower oil, which has a small percentage of O-6 PUFA. But if not, it’s such a small amount that I don’t think it’s worth worrying over. You would probably get much more than that amount in eating a handful of veggie-oil fried Lays chips or something. The benefits of the astaxanthin far outweigh the negatives of the tiny amount of safflower oil.
actually, i take dr. mercola’s astaxanthin, which has better ingredients, IMO. it has perilla seed oil (a plant omega 3) instead of safflower oil. i actually developed an allergy to safflower oil when i took the bioastin brand, because i was taking it everyday.
If the safflower oil in this is the high-oleic variety (which it very may well be, but I don’t know—I think I might actually contact BioAstin to find out), then it is lower in PUFA than Mercola’s variety. I don’t want to be ingesting high amounts of plant-based ALA (like in flax oil) just as much as I don’t want to be ingesting high amounts of linoleic acid. All PUFA should ideally be limited to a very small (around 4%) portion of caloric intake.
I’m waiting for the day that someone gets wise enough to start producing astaxanthin in a coconut oil base. Now THAT would be awesome.
How many do you take?
I take one 4mg capsule a day, but Dr. M says even 2 mg is an acceptable dose.
Very Interesting! Our family is planning a big trip that will involve a long flight right in the midday in a few weeks, do you know if it is safe to give to children at all? Do you have any information regarding that?
Good question. If I had children, I wouldn’t hesitate to give it to them, because there are virtually no negative side effects that have ever been reported from what I understand. Probably because it’s not a drug or a man-made invention, but a part of a food. Kinda like cod liver oil, you know?
Soli @ I Believe In Butter says
Oh I may have to look into this for myself. So cool that it’s locally sourced for you.
Yeah isn’t that awesome!? Makes me happy. 🙂
How many times do you take Astaxanthin? I am currently taking a supplement I take one in the morning and after dinner.
Warmly Mike The Eat Healthy Guy-)
Hi, Mike! I just take it once per day, the 4 mg dose. I try to take it sometime in the morning or mid-day, just because if I take it too late in the day I find that it makes me too energized when I’m trying to wind down for sleep.
Lori @ Laurel of Leaves says
Niiice. I’m definitely going to look into getting some of this for the hubby and I. Thanks for the awesome list of benefits!
Can you take this while pregnant?
I saw somewhere (sorry—don’t remember where) that this is contraindicated for pregnant and nursing women. What’s the flip side of this supplement that would make it unsafe for babies?
Katherine Y says
I’m curious if you can take this while breastfeeding and give it to children (not looking for medical advice, just personal experience).
It seems Source Naturals has ony olive oil and gelatin as their ‘other’ ingredients. It might be another option for those concerned about the safflower oil. Butter Believer, have you researched that brand at all? Btw, thanks for sharing about astaxanthin. I had never heard of it, but appreciate all the benefits. When my family relocates to Florida in a few years, I think I will put my whole family in it.
Really! Thanks so much for the tip, I will look into that.
Just curious…is there an edible non-extract alternative? I love adding seaweed flakes as a topping…any chance there is some in with the dried weeds?
Hmm… that’s a really great question! I would think seaweed and algae have similar nutritional properties, so perhaps there could be astaxanthin in seaweed, but I’m really not sure!
OMG… if this works, I will so owe you! I have very sensitive fair skin and get burnt very easily…. if this helps me to not get burnt, I will be STOKED!
is this safe for breast feeding at all?
I have read several places not to take this while pregnant or nursing…but I can’t figure out why…whether there is truly some negative effect it might have on a fetus or baby, or if it’s just because we label everything in the world as not safe for pregnant or nursing women.
Hmm, my guess would be the latter. I can’t think of any reason why it wouldn’t be okay. Just ask your doctor about it if you have concerns, would be my advice!
Susie Larson says
So, astaxanthin scores a 1.4 on the Orac scale.
Did you know that clove oil scores over 10 million on the same orac scale? hmmm.
You’d only need to touch the cap and swipe your tongue and you’d still have more antioxidant action in your body. And essential oils are already lipophilic, so no need in making sure you’re eating enough fats to assimilate. Not to mention that clove oil is far less expensive, and the product won’t expire either. BUT MAKE SURE YOU ARE GETTING YOUR CLOVE OIL FROM A COMPANY THAT GC TESTS FOR COMPOUNDS THAT ARE SAFE FOR INTERNAL INGESTION. NOT ALL OILS ARE CREATED EQUAL. They vary so much depending on where they are grown etc. AND KNOWING THE CHEMICAL PROFILE IS VITAL TO ENSURING SAFETY.
I work in an animal hospital in the emergency department. I take several radiographs every day. we wear lead vests, thyroid guards, and gloves when we can (it’s hard to use lead gloves when taking xrays of tiny animals, thus putting our hands very close to the primary beam) I suspect my co workers and I are exposed to more radiation than we should be. I am hoping this will be something to help with that.
Chantal Charbonneau says
Thank you for your information regarding how to heal a sunburn. I went to the pool today putting on sunscreen and when I came back this afternoon, I was first pink and now I am really red. The sunscreen obviously lost its protective effect (I think I had this tube for more than a year). I am VERY health conscious and I have not had a sunburn in over 15 years! So I am using your trick with apple cider vinegar (I have already been using coconut oil for more than a year). I don’t like the smell of vinegar on me but the burning sensation has gone down. I had never heard of astaxanthin before and I did some research. I found it confusing that all the sources of astaxanthin I found have safflower oil in it although we hear more and more that this is an oil to avoid…But I read your blog and I bought some astaxanthin on Amazon. I will let you know in two months what changes I have noticed. I know one thing for sure: I will make sure my skin NEVER burns again the way it did today!!!