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Astaxanthin complex is a nutritional supplement known for its antioxidant qualities. Its primary constituent, astaxanthin, is produced in nature by the microscopic algae Haematococus pluvailis. The reported health benefits of taking astaxanthin complex are numerous, such as improved cardiovascular health and protecting the skin and eyes from damage by radiation from the sun.
A member of the carotenoid family, which also includes beta-carotene and leutin, astaxanthin is a dark red pigment. The most common source of astaxanthin consumed by humans is salmon, but it is also present in trout, crab, shrimp and lobster. Astaxanthin gives salmon its characteristic coloration.
A potent antioxidant, astataxanthin is unlike some carotenoids because it does not convert to vitamin A in the human body. Excessive vitamin A is toxic to humans. Astaxanthin retains its powerful antioxidant, free-radical scavenging activity without risk of toxic effects.
The antioxidant strength of astaxanthin is a matter of debate. Some reports claim that it far exceeds the capabilities of other carotenoids. Other studies suggest the antioxidant activity of astaxanthin is slightly lower than that of other carotenoids.
Research suggests that the antioxidant activity of astaxanthin can have an influential role in improving cardiovascular health by limiting the effects of low-density lipoprotein, or “bad" cholesterol. It also has been shown that astaxanthin strengthens the human immune system by increasing the number of antibody-producing cells. Other studies indicate that astaxanthin has a beneficial effect on inflammatory conditions, which are considered a major risk factor of heart disease.
Another benefit of astaxanthin is the ability to protect the skin and eyes from the harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation of the sun. It provides what is often called an internal sunscreen. Astaxanthin shields microscopic aquatic plants from damaging UV rays. Research indicates that it can provide similar protection for humans. Astaxanthin might allow a person to enjoy the health benefits of sunshine, such as vitamin D synthesis, without enduring damaging sunburn or eye damage.
Research has been conducted to investigate the effect of astaxanthin on various neurodegenerative diseases and conditions. Astaxanthin is unusual among antioxidants in its ability to penetrate the brain-blood barrier that protects the human brain from harmful pathogens. This ability gives astaxanthin tremendous potential as a treatment for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and macular degeneration, which is a leading cause of blindness in elderly people.
Though astaxanthin can be consumed in natural food sources, one can ensure an adequate intake by taking an astaxanthin complex supplement. A quality astaxanthin complex supplement will include astaxanthin and other carotenoids, such as beta-carotene and leutin, along with small amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. This complex provides a superior group of carotenoids when compared to those of a single-ingredient supplement.
Astaxanthin is produced both naturally and synthetically. Nearly all studies on the benefits of astaxanthin have utilized natural astaxanthin produced by the micro-algae Haematococus pluvailis. To ensure the maximum benefit from an astaxanthin complex supplement, it is considered advisable for one to choose one made from natural astaxanthin produced by Haematococus pluvailis.
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