Astaxanthin is a unique carotenoid compound found in abundance in marine environments, particularly in algae. Astaxanthin is what gives red algae its colour and subsequently salmon their pink flesh when they consume the algae. Astaxanthin is considered a far more powerful antioxidant than beta-carotene or vitamin E, because unlike most other antioxidants, it does not create a free radical itself after quenching one, and can therefore quench numerous radicals in a row. This allows it to protect cell membrane lipids from free radical damage.
Astaxanthin is a unique carotenoid that offers exceptional protection to the cell membrane from lipid peroxidation to help maintain ocular health.
|Serving Size: 1 Capsule||Amount|
|Haematococcus pluvialis extract (4 mg of astaxanthin)||40 mg|
|Non-medical ingredients: |
mixed tocopherols (soy or corn), corn starch, medium chain triglycerides, gum Arabic, tapioca dextrin, silicon dioxide, ascorbyl palmitate, cellulose gum, polyglycerol esters of fatty acids, microcrystalline cellulose, sodium stearyl fumarate. Capsule: hypromellose, chlorophyll.
AOR™ guarantees that all ingredients have been declared on the label. Contains no wheat, gluten, nuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, sulphites, mustard, dairy, eggs, fish, shellfish or any animal byproduct.
Take 1-2 capsules daily with food, or as directed by a qualified health care practitioner.
Consult a health care practitioner prior to use if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or for use beyond 3 months. Stomach/abdominal pain has been known to occur, in which case discontinue use and consult a health care practitioner.
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What is Astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin is a member of the xanthophyll subcategory of carotenoids – organic pigments that occur mainly in plants. Astaxanthin is found in abundance in marine environments, particularly among algae, and the pink and red colour of salmon, shrimp and lobster is attributable to the astaxanthin-rich diets of these animals.
Astaxanthin is famous as a powerful antioxidant, and rightly so. However, studies have also shown that it can reduce eye fatigue related to high screen time, preserve eye structure and function, improve sports performance, and contribute to heart health in various ways including maintaining healthy blood sugar and blood pressure. Astaxanthin can also be used orally and topically for skin health.
A Unique and Powerful Antioxidant
Astaxanthin exerts all of the aforementioned benefits through the fundamental premise of protecting the cell membrane from lipid peroxidation, and in this role it is 550 times more effective than Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol). It is also 40 times more potent than beta-carotene in quenching singlet oxygen free radicals, and has been shown to have synergistic effects with lycopene, lipoic acid, resveratrol, ascorbic acid, ginseng, garlic, gingko biloba and tocotrienols, among others. Astaxanthin is clearly an antioxidant whose time has come.
Antioxidant research is one of the pillars in the study of life extension and general health. However, antioxidants have been defined rather ambiguously, and there are literally thousands that have been isolated – with more being discovered constantly. Therefore, asking what makes a recently discovered antioxidant like astaxanthin so special is not an unfair question. The fact of the matter is that there are some antioxidants that have merited greater scientific interest than others. These include R( )-lipoic acid and full-spectrum Vitamin E, among others. Not only have these antioxidants served us well (and will continue to do so), they belong to an elite category distinguishing them from other antioxidants due to their unique properties, mechanisms of action, central importance and/or exceptional potency. So why does astaxanthin merit admittance into this exclusive category?
What Makes Astaxanthin So Special?
Astaxanthin has a unique molecular structure: its polar end groups have the distinct ability to attach themselves to both sides of the lipid bilayer that contains the cell membrane. From this entrenched position, astaxanthin inhibits the lipid peroxidation of the cell membrane (which is the ‘gatekeeper of the cell’ -controlling what comes in and out), by extension protecting the mitochondria and the rest of the cell from potentially damaging peroxidation.
Astaxanthin can also quench free radicals by adding them to its structure rather than sacrificing an atom or electron, meaning that unlike most antioxidants, astaxanthin is far less likely to become a mild free radical in its own right after quenching one. This also allows astaxanthin to be more biologically active, enabling it to trap and quench more free radicals – and of a greater variety – than most other antioxidants.
Astaxanthin’s fat-solubility and low molecular weight (less than 600 daltons) allows it to effectively cross the blood-brain barrier to alleviate oxidative stress in the eyes, brain and central nervous system. Particular focus has been paid to astaxanthin’s effect on ocular health, with several Japanese studies examining its ability to alleviate the symptoms of asthenopia (eye fatigue). This increasingly common condition is often caused by overexposure to visual display terminals (VDT’s), and the aforementioned human studies revealed that astaxanthin (at 5mg per day for one month) can alleviate asthenopia symptoms by 54%.
Scientists believe the mechanism of action for these benefits is based on the increased ciliary body accommodation, increased retinal blood flow, and anti-inflammatory properties associated with astaxanthin supplementation. A small study giving subjects 12 mg of astaxanthin for 4 weeks found that it increased blood flow velocity in the choroid, whose blood vessels feed the macula. The ciliary body is composed primarily of an ocular muscle that stretches across the vitreous humour between the lens and the pupil. Accommodation refers to the ability of the ciliary body to manipulate the thickness of the lens in order to focus light on the retina. If the eye is required to focus on a fixed object for extended periods of time, muscle spasms and other signs of fatigue may occur. Factors such as the speed at which the ciliary body reacts to a change in visual focus are used to evaluate improvements (if any) in the accommodation response.
Two studies conducted in 2005 determined that the speed of the ciliary body’s reactions in the astaxanthin group were approximately 46% faster than those in the placebo group. This means that those taking astaxanthin were able to spot moving objects that much faster than those who were not. Furthermore, another placebo-controlled study determined that astaxanthin can increase retinal blood flow by approximately 11% (nourishing ciliary muscles) while yet another study (with laboratory rats) found that astaxanthin can reduce ciliary cell inflammation by nearly 80%.
Other studies have incorporated astaxanthin into a supplementation program including lutein, zeaxanthin and other vitamins and minerals. One 2-year study found that this supplement regime preserved visual acuity and contrast sensitivity in subjects with age-related macular degeneration.
Astaxanthin has also been studied for its effect on dyspepsia (digestive problems in the upper abdominal region). An Australian study in 1999 among ten patients with non-ulcerous dyspepsia resulted in astaxanthin supplementation (at 40 mg daily for 21 days) reducing gastric pain, heartburn and total clinical symptoms by 66%, 78%, and 52% respectively. A much larger randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study conducted among 131 patients in Lithuania, Denmark and Sweden produced similar results along a dose-dependent basis.
Astaxanthin’s anti-oxidant effects are also beneficial in skin treatments. Studies have shown that oral supplementation with astaxanthin reduces skin dryness and fine lines while improving moisture content and elasticity. One study showed that 6 mg of oral astaxanthin supplementation along with topical application for 8 weeks appeared to improve the condition of all 3 layer types of skin in both men and women. It even helped reduce the size of age spots.
Finally, astaxanthin has been examined for its sports-nutrition applications, particularly with respect to endurance athletes. In 1998, a six-month randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial among healthy Swedish men found that supplementation with 4mg of astaxanthin daily increased the number of knee bends these men were able to perform by approximately 45%. A 2002 study among Japanese track athletes found that at a dose of 6 mg daily for 1 month, lactic acid buildup following a 1,200-metre run was reduced by nearly 29%.
A recent study on competitive cyclists who took 4 mg of astaxanthin for 4 weeks revealed that the test group was able to shave an average of 121 seconds off a 20km time trial while the placebo group only shaved off 19 seconds. The test group also had an increased power output of 20W while the placebo group only increased by 1.6W. These types of results make a large difference for competitive athletes. Another 90 day study on elite soccer players found that astaxanthin reduced oxidative stress from training and competition as indicated by increased sulphydril groups and lower basal and post-exercise aspartate aminotransferase and creatine kinase activity compared to the placebo group.
Antioxidants are and will no doubt continue to dominate health regimens concerned with improving overall health and slowing the aging process. One of the most potent and powerful antioxidants available is astaxanthin.
AOR’s astaxanthin is sourced from algae and is a particularly strong antioxidant. Because of its structure, it provides antioxidant protection, in a way that is unique to astaxanthin and to cell membranes, which is essential to prevent cellular damage. It has been shown that the antioxidant and biological activity of astaxanthin was greater than those of other potent antioxidants such as Vitamin E and beta-carotene.
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Djordjevic B, Baralic I, Kotur-Stevuljevic J, Stefanovic A, Ivanisevic J, Radivojevic N, Andjelkovic M, Dikic N. Effect of astaxanthin supplementation on muscle damage and oxidative stress markers in elite young soccer players. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2012 Aug;52(4):382-92.
Earnest CP, Lupo M, White KM, Church TS. Effect of astaxanthin on cycling time trial performance. Int J Sports Med. 2011 Nov;32(11):882-8.
Kiko T, Nakagawa K, Satoh A, Tsuduki T, Furukawa K, Arai H, Miyazawa T. Amyloid β levels in human red blood cells. PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e49620.
Kupcinskas L, et al. Efficacy of the antioxidant astaxanthin in the treatment of functional dyspepsia in patients with or without Helicobacter pylori gastritis: a prospective, randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled study. Eur. J. Gastroint and Hepat. (In Press).
Lignell et al. (1999). 12th International Carotenoid Symposium, Cairns, Queensland, Australia. The safety, tolerability and efficacy of the antioxidant Astaxanthin in the treatment of Helicobacter pylori infection.
Malmsten C. (1998) Dietary supplementation with astaxanthin rich algae meal improves muscle endurance – a double blind study on male students. Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden (Unpublished).
Miki W., Biological functions and activities of animal carotenoids. Pure and Appl. Chem. 1991; 63:141-6.
Nagaki Y, et al. (2002) Effects of Astaxanthin on accommodation, critical flicker fusions, and pattern evoked potential in visual display terminal workers. J. Trad. Med., 19(5): 170-173.
Naito T, et al. (2004) Prevention of diabetic nephropathy by treatment with astaxanthin in diabetic db/db mice. Biofactors 20: 49-59.
Nakagawa K, Kiko T, Miyazawa T, Carpentero Burdeos G, Kimura F, Satoh A, Miyazawa T. Antioxidant effect of astaxanthin on phospholipid peroxidation in human erythrocytes. Br J Nutr. 2011 Jun;105(11):1563-71.
Piermarocchi S, Saviano S, Parisi V, Tedeschi M, Panozzo G, Scarpa G, Boschi G, Lo Giudice G; Carmis Study Group. Carotenoids in Age-related Maculopathy Italian Study (CARMIS): two-year results of a randomized study. Eur J Ophthalmol. 2012 Mar-Apr;22(2):216-25.
Preuss HG, Echard B, Yamashita E, Perricone NV. High dose astaxanthin lowers blood pressure and increases insulin sensitivity in rats: are these effects interdependent? Int J Med Sci. 2011 Feb 9;8(2):126-38.
Saito M, Yoshida K, Saito W, Fujiya A, Ohgami K, Kitaichi N, Tsukahara H, Ishida S, Ohno S. Astaxanthin increases choroidal blood flow velocity. Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2012 Feb;250(2):239-45.
Sawaki K, et al. (2002) Sports performance benefits from taking natural astaxanthin characterized by visual activity and muscle improvements in humans. Journal of Clinical Therapeutics & Medicine 18(9): 73-88.
Shimizu N, et al. Carotenoids as singlet oxygen quenchers in marine organisms. Fisheries Sci. 1996; 62:134-7.
Tominaga K, Hongo N, Karato M, Yamashita E. Cosmetic benefits of astaxanthin on humans subjects. Acta Biochim Pol. 2012;59(1):43-7.
Uchiyama K, et al. (2002) Astaxanthin protects cells against glucose toxicity in diabetic db/db mice. Redox Report 7(5): 290-292.
Yoshida H, Yanai H, Ito K, Tomono Y, Koikeda T, Tsukahara H, Tada N. Administration of natural astaxanthin increases serum HDL-cholesterol and adiponectin in subjects with mild hyperlipidemia. Atherosclerosis. 2010 Apr;209(2):520-3.
Effect of astaxanthin supplementation on muscle damage and oxidative stress markers in elite young soccer players.
J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2012 Aug;52(4):382-92.
Djordjevic B, Baralic I, Kotur-Stevuljevic J, Stefanovic A, Ivanisevic J, Radivojevic N, Andjelkovic M, Dikic N.
AIM: The purpose of the current study was to examine the effect of Astaxanthin (Asx) supplementation on muscle enzymes as indirect markers of muscle damage, oxidative stress markers and antioxidant response in elite young soccer players.
METHODS: Thirty-two male elite soccer players were randomly assigned in a double-blind fashion to Asx and placebo (P) group. After the 90 days of supplementation, the athletes performed a 2 hour acute exercise bout. Blood samples were obtained before and after 90 days of supplementation and after the exercise at the end of observational period for analysis of thiobarbituric acid-reacting substances (TBARS), advanced oxidation protein products (AOPP), superoxide anion (O2•¯), total antioxidative status (TAS), sulphydril groups (SH), superoxide-dismutase (SOD), serum creatine kinase (CK) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST).
RESULTS: TBARS and AOPP levels did not change throughout the study. Regular training significantly increased O2•¯ levels (main training effect). O2•¯ concentrations increased after the soccer exercise (main exercise effect), but these changes reached statistical significance only in the P group (exercise x supplementation effect). TAS levels decreased significantly post- exercise only in P group. Both Asx and P groups experienced increase in total SH groups content (by 21% and 9%, respectively) and supplementation effect was marginally significant. Basal SOD activity significantly decreased both in P and in Asx group by the end of the study (main training effect). All participants showed a significant decrease in basal CK and AST activities after 90 days (main training effect). CK and AST activities in serum significantly increased as result of soccer exercise (main exercise effect). Postexercise CK and AST levels were significantly lower in Asx group compared to P group.
CONCLUSION: The results of the present study suggest that soccer training and soccer exercise are associated with excessive production of free radicals and oxidative stress, which might diminish antioxidant system efficiency. Supplementation with Asx could prevent exercise induced free radical production and depletion of non-enzymatic antioxidant defense in young soccer players.
Cosmetic benefits of astaxanthin on humans subjects.
Acta Biochim Pol. 2012;59(1):43-7.
Tominaga K, Hongo N, Karato M, Yamashita E.
Two human clinical studies were performed. One was an open-label non-controlled study involving 30 healthy female subjects for 8 weeks. Significant improvements were observed by combining 6 mg per day oral supplementation and 2 ml (78.9 μM solution) per day topical application of astaxanthin. Astaxanthin derived from the microalgae, Haematococcus pluvialis showed improvements in skin wrinkle (crow’s feet at week-8), age spot size (cheek at week-8), elasticity (crow’s feet at week-8), skin texture (cheek at week-4), moisture content of corneocyte layer (cheek in 10 dry skin subjects at week-8) and corneocyte condition (cheek at week-8). It may suggest that astaxanthin derived from H. pluvialis can improve skin condition in all layers such as corneocyte layer, epidermis, basal layer and dermis by combining oral supplementation and topical treatment. Another was a randomized double-blind placebo controlled study involving 36 healthy male subjects for 6 weeks. Crow’s feet wrinkle and elasticity; and transepidermal water loss (TEWL) were improved after 6 mg of astaxanthin (the same as former study) daily supplementation. Moisture content and sebum oil level at the cheek zone showed strong tendencies for improvement. These results suggest that astaxanthin derived from Haematococcus pluvialis may improve the skin condition in not only in women but also in men.
Astaxanthin increases choroidal blood flow velocity.
Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2012 Feb;250(2):239-45.
Saito M, Yoshida K, Saito W, Fujiya A, Ohgami K, Kitaichi N, Tsukahara H, Ishida S, Ohno S.
PURPOSE: Previous studies have reported that astaxanthin (AXT) has antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects in addition to its ability to shorten blood transit times. As laser speckle flowgraphy (LSFG) can noninvasively visualize the hemodynamics of the choroidal circulation, we used the technique to evaluate whether continuous ingestion of 12 mg of AXT per day could increase quantitative blood flow velocity.
METHODS: In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, we examined 20 healthy volunteers who ingested 12 mg AXT or placebo capsules over a 4-week period. LSFG was measured in the right eyes of all subjects at pre-ingestion, and at 2 and 4 weeks after the treatment of AXT. LSFG values were used to calculate the square blur rate (SBR), which is a quantitative index of relative blood flow velocity.
RESULTS: A significant increase of the macular SBR was seen 4 weeks after AXT ingestion when compared to the pre-ingestion values (Wilcoxon signed-rank test, P = 0.018). In contrast, no statistical difference in the macular SBR was detected in the placebo group (Friedman test, P = 0.598). No subjective or objective adverse events were found after the 12-mg AXT ingestion.
CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that administration of AXT over a 4-week period can elevate the choroidal blood flow velocity without any adverse effects.
Carotenoids in Age-related Maculopathy Italian Study (CARMIS): two-year results of a randomized study.
Eur J Ophthalmol. 2012 Mar-Apr;22(2):216-25.
Piermarocchi S, Saviano S, Parisi V, Tedeschi M, Panozzo G, Scarpa G, Boschi G, Lo Giudice G; Carmis Study Group.
PURPOSE: The high concentration of carotenoids in the macula, plus evidence linking oxidative stress to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and carotenoids to antioxidation, generated the hypothesis that higher antioxidant intakes can prevent AMD. The aim of this study was to determine whether nutritional supplementation with a targeted nutritional supplement improves visual acuity and visual function in AMD.
METHODS: In this multicenter, prospective open-label randomized study, 145 patients were randomly assigned to 2 different treatment groups. Interventions were lutein (10 mg), zeaxanthin (1 mg), astaxanthin (4 mg; AZYR SIFI, Catania, Italy), and antioxidants/vitamins supplementation formula or no dietary supplementation for 2 years. Primary outcome was mean changes in visual acuity (VA) at 12 and 24 months. Other measures included contrast sensitivity (CS) and National Eye Institute visual function questionnaire (NEI VFQ-25) scores at 12 and 24 months.
RESULTS: Patients in the treated group showed stabilization of VA with significantly (p=0.003) better VA scores (81.4 ± 7.2) compared to the nontreated group (76.8 ± 8.9) at 24-month follow-up. An improvement in CS (p=0.001) and final mean NEI VFQ-25 composite scores at 12 and 24 months higher in treated group compared to nontreated group were also shown (p < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Patients treated with lutein/zeaxanthin and astaxanthin together with other nutrients were more likely to report clinically meaningful stabilization/improvements in VA, CS, and visual function through 24 months compared with nontreated subjects. Further studies are needed with more patients and for longer periods of time.
Effect of astaxanthin on cycling time trial performance.
Int J Sports Med. 2011 Nov;32(11):882-8.
Earnest CP, Lupo M, White KM, Church TS.
We examined the effect of Astaxanthin (AST) on substrate metabolism and cycling time trial (TT) performance by randomly assigning 21 competitive cyclists to 28 d of encapsulated AST (4 mg/d) or placebo (PLA) supplementation. Testing included a VO2max test and on a separate day a 2 h constant intensity pre-exhaustion ride, after a 10 h fast, at 5% below VO2max stimulated onset of 4 mmol/L lactic acid followed 5 min later by a 20 km TT. Analysis included ANOVA and post-hoc testing. Data are Mean (SD) and (95% CI) when expressed as change (pre vs. post). Fourteen participants successfully completed the trial. Overall, we observed significant improvements in 20 km TT performance in the AST group (n=7; -121 s; 95% CI, -185, -53), but not the PLA (n=7; -19 s; 95% CI, -84, 45). The AST group was significantly different vs. PLA (P < 0.05). The AST group significantly increased power output (20 W; 95% CI, 1, 38), while the PLA group did not (1.6 W; 95% CI, -17, 20). The mechanism of action for these improvements remains unclear, as we observed no treatment effects for carbohydrate and fat oxidation, or blood indices indicative of fuel mobilization. While AST significantly improved TT performance the mechanism of action explaining this effect remains obscure.
Administration of natural astaxanthin increases serum HDL-cholesterol and adiponectin in subjects with mild hyperlipidemia.
Atherosclerosis. 2010 Apr;209(2):520-3.
Yoshida H, Yanai H, Ito K, Tomono Y, Koikeda T, Tsukahara H, Tada N.
BACKGROUND: Astaxanthin has been reported to improve dyslipidemia and metabolic syndrome in animals, but such effects in humans are not well known.
METHODS: Placebo-controlled astaxanthin administration at doses of 0, 6, 12, 18 mg/day for 12 weeks was randomly allocated to 61 non-obese subjects with fasting serum triglyceride of 120-200mg/dl and without diabetes and hypertension, aged 25-60 years.
RESULTS: In before and after tests, body mass index (BMI) and LDL-cholesterol were unaffected at all doses, however, triglyceride decreased, while HDL-cholesterol increased significantly. Multiple comparison tests showed that 12 and 18 mg/day doses significantly reduced triglyceride, and 6 and 12 mg doses significantly increased HDL-cholesterol. Serum adiponectin was increased by astaxanthin (12 and 18 mg/day), and changes of adiponectin correlated positively with HDL-cholesterol changes independent of age and BMI.
CONCLUSIONS: This first-ever randomized, placebo-controlled human study suggests that astaxanthin consumption ameliorates triglyceride and HDL-cholesterol in correlation with increased adiponectin in humans.
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