As a Health Professional, I’m thrilled that astaxanthin – one of the hottest ingredients on the market today – is getting the attention it deserves.
Over the last year-plus, it has been the subject of countless research studies, news articles and mainstream publicity thanks to the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Mehmet Oz, who raved about the benefits of astaxanthin on their talk shows.
This ingredient’s health benefits are plentiful: from its application to help alleviate the symptoms of hypertension and Type 2 Diabetes to more general health applications like cardiovascular support, eye fatigue relief, skin care and anti-aging protection, endurance and weight control, astaxanthin can be considered a one-size-fits-all approach to well-being.
Hypertension is a medical condition in which blood pressure in the arteries is elevated, requiring the heart to work harder than normal to circulate blood through the blood vessels. Hypertension is a major risk factor for stroke, myocardial infarction (heart attacks), heart failure, aneurysms of the arteries, peripheral arterial disease and is a cause of chronic kidney disease.
One of the main symptoms of hypertension is the thickening of the vascular walls, which reduces blood flow to the heart and increases systolic pressure. One research study showed that 5 mg of astaxanthin a day over a seven-week period reduced the thickness of the vascular wall by 47 percent.
In addition, recent studies have shown astaxanthin to help improve how the blood flows through the body, which can help reduce hypertension. One such study found that 6 mg of astaxanthin a day enhanced capillary blood flow by 10 percent – in only a ten-day period. Another study, conducted over a 30-day period, found that a 5mg a day dose of astaxanthin reduced systolic blood pressure (the measure of blood pressure while the heart is beating) by seven percent.
By improving the heart’s structure and reducing the amount of work needed to keep blood flowing, astaxanthin research is showing promising signs to help the heart work smarter, not harder.
Type 2 Diabetes
In people with type 2 diabetes – the most common form – the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin, which is necessary for the body to be able to use glucose for energy. When you eat food, the body breaks down all of the sugars and starches into glucose, which is the basic fuel for the cells in the body. Insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can lead to diabetes complications.
New research into the effectiveness of astaxanthin preventing certain diabetes-related parameters has been promising. Studies have shown that eight weeks of astaxanthin usage can reduce cortisol levels by as much as 23 percent, expression of the lactic acid dehydrogenase (LDH) gene by 6.5 percent, and glycated hemoglobin molecules by 4 percent.
What does this mean? High cortisol levels can contribute to increased blood glucose and fat levels, markers for diabetes and pre-diabetes. LDH expression relates to the metabolism of glucose in the body, which is important for numerous organ functions when the genes are working properly. Overexpression of LDH can not only be a cause of concern for diabetes, but different forms of cancer (including testicular cancer, Ewing’s sarcoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and some types of leukemia) and conditions such as heart failure, hypothyroidism and liver disease.
General Health Applications of Astaxanthin
Studied countless times for cardiovascular, vision, skin care and anti-aging benefits, astaxanthin has been proven to support and maintain your health in a variety of ways, from helping maintain normal cholesterol and blood pressure levels, to antioxidant protection, to muscle performance.
Research has shown that astaxanthin can help maintain normal cholesterol by protecting LDL (the bad kind of cholesterol) and triglyceride levels from free radicals through its powerful antioxidant defense. In addition, it works to maintain normal good cholesterol levels, or HDL, in the body.
Researchers conclude that for every 1 mg increase in good cholesterol HDL, the risk of cardiovascular diseases drops by three percent. A recent study found that astaxanthin users, over a 12-week trial, improved their HDL levels by as much as 11 percent.
Plus, astaxanthin has the ability to support healthy blood flow to and from the cardiac muscle. All of this helps to support your overall cardiovascular health.
For your vision, astaxanthin works to support healthy blood flow to the eyes — supporting visual focus and helping reduce the occurrence of occasional eye strain, helping the eyes to perform at their best. And, because of it efficacy, astaxanthin delivers more antioxidant power than any of the other carotenoids, displaying approximately 10 times the power of vitamin A.
One study found that individuals who received 5 mg of astaxanthin per day for one month showed a 54 percent reduction of eye fatigue complaints.
And that’s just scratching the surface. Astaxanthin has also been shown to:
- Support muscle endurance and performance
- Improve skin moisture and help to maintain skin elasticity
- Provide a powerful antioxidant defense to help protect the entire body on a cellular level
There are more and more studies being released about the wonders of astaxanthin. As we continue to peel back the layers of this amazing ingredient, the health community is finding more quality benefits that are helping people live healthier, longer.
A final note: many studies are based on doses of six mg or more, so it is important – if you are investigating whether astaxanthin supplementation is right for you – to talk with your Health Professional about the type of astaxanthin available, including the serving amounts. It really does make a difference. Writen by Dr. Perry Krichmar