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Wondering what in the world astaxanthin is? Poised to become a huge food and nutrition trend, this lesser-known nutrient is going to start appearing everywhere. And if you’re already confused by the pronunciation of the word, trust me when I say I feel you! Science sometimes uses complicated words to explain simple things – like, in this case, a dark pink antioxidant that you need in your diet.
If you can get on board with this simple definition, then let’s dive in and explore what you need to know about this next big trend… oh, and it’s pronounced a-stuh-zan-thn!
What is astaxanthin?
If you’ve ever had salmon or a piece of seafood from the crustacean family (think shrimp, lobster and crab), then you’ve actually had astaxanthin before. Look at you, such a trendsetter!
Astaxanthin is the pink carotenoid that gives those particular seafood species their dark pink hue. It’s a potent antioxidant that’s shown promise in multiple areas of health and wellness, from beauty and athletic performance to healthy aging and immune support. Astaxanthin actually isn’t inherent in seafood directly, but it is present in the diet of fish and crustaceans thanks to the zooplankton and krill they eat.
While the amount of astaxanthin will vary depending on the type of salmon or crustacean you’re eating, an average 6-ounce portion of wild salmon will give you about 3.6 mg of astaxanthin.
How much astaxanthin should you consume?
Depending on the benefits you’re looking for, the recommended amount of astaxanthin varies. While research notes 3.6 mg per day has shown promising health aspects, a range between 2 to 12 mg per day is usually recommended.
According to registered dietitian nutritionist and NOW® beauty expert Dawn Jackson Blatner, “People are only eating an average of 11 mg of astaxanthin per year. And for some of astaxanthin’s benefits, you need that amount PER DAY! So, although a food first approach is the best, there are some nutrients that need to be supplemented to get full benefits, and astaxanthin is one of those.”
Blatner went on to share that currently, there’s no set “upper limit” for astaxanthin, meaning the highest amount tolerable to be consumed without unfavorable side effects. However, taking more than 12 mg hasn’t been shown to give added benefits, so sticking to this dose is beneficial.
What does the research say?
Research is continuing to evolve surrounding astaxanthin, and it looks promising! Early research from 2014 was reinforced by a more recent 2019 review that showed the health benefits of astaxanthin are bountiful.
For instance, scientists have been able to link the consumption of astaxanthin in sufficient amounts to improving skin and muscle health, enhancing eye health and immunity, and supporting healthy aging. Of particular interest, too, is the role it plays in improving insulin sensitivity. Astaxanthin could very well become a prominent dietary treatment strategy for type 2 diabetes as the research evolves.
One of the key points that makes astaxanthin such a superior antioxidant is it acts on both the inner and outer cell membranes to scavenge free radicals and help rid them from your body. Remember, free radicals are those “bad guys” that can build up in your body over time and cause inflammation and lead to disease.
While other antioxidants help scavenge free radicals too, they only act on either the outer or inner cell membrane, not both. Astaxanthin’s ability to fight free radicals at both membranes allows an even greater layer of protection for your body, demonstrating just why it’s been studied to have such promising effects in multiple areas of health.
Why haven’t we seen astaxanthin on the market yet?
Believe me when I say you’re about to see a boom in the manufacturing of astaxanthin supplements in 2022.
According to Tina Tews, a brand manager at NOW®, a leader in the natural products category, “Astaxanthin as a supplement was actually conceptualized and formulated a few years ago by our company’s nutrition and research and development chemist team. However, when COVID-19 hit, it caused us to refocus production on priority immune support products.”
While NOW® has just released their Aquatic Beauty Powder, a blend of collagen and astaxanthin, astaxanthin in pill form as a supplement has been around for some time. Blatner notes you’re likely to see the dynamic duo of astaxanthin and collagen paired together since astaxanthin has the potential to enhance the beneficial effects of collagen as well.
If you’re eager to give it a shot, be it in powder or supplement form, be sure to evaluate the brands you purchase from for third party verifications and seals since supplements to ensure the highest quality.
Astaxanthin is poised to become as popular as collagen – and it may even start appearing in your fave collagen supps. To learn more about collagen’s own potential and benefits, keep reading: