What is Astaxanthin?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2019
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Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant that occurs naturally in various types of marine life, including krill, shrimp and salmon. Categorized as a carotenoid in the terpenes class of phytochemicals, the naturally occurring nutrient is considerably more powerful than antioxidants such as Vitamin E. This particular carotenoid can also be synthetically produced.

There are a number of sources for astaxanthin. Along with various types of fish, this nutritional supplement can also be harvested from yeast and even the feathers of a few birds. Along with ingesting the antioxidant by consuming fish, it is also possible to purchase the product in capsule and pill form for use as a daily nutritional supplement or as an additive to other foods.

It is not unusual for synthetic and natural astaxanthin to be used as an ingredient in feeds produced for chickens, shrimp, and salmon. The nutrient helps to add color to the meat and eggs as well as promote growth. This makes the inclusion of astaxanthin ideal for use on farms where shrimp, chicken, and salmon are actively cultivated for sale.

For humans, astaxanthin is valuable as an antioxidant. This property makes the nutrient ideal for boosting the function of the immune system. As a result, it can have a beneficial impact on preventing the development of heart disease. Because astaxanthin does cross the blood-brain barrier, it can also benefit the function of the brain, eyes, and the nervous system.


The effectiveness of astaxanthin as an antioxidant is significantly higher than other carotenoids. In general, this carotenoid is more effective than lycopene and lutein and is even considered at least ten times more effective than beta-carotene. In comparison with Vitamin E, this supplement may be up to five hundred more times powerful.

As with many nutritional supplements, it is important to discuss the use of astaxanthin with your physician if you are currently taking medication for any type of cardiovascular or nervous system disorder. In some cases, the supplement may enhance the effects of the drug to levels that are not desirable. Your doctor can provide you with information about any possible interactions and also provide you with some guidelines as to how much of the supplement to take on a daily basis.

While it is possible to obtain astaxanthin from the consumption of foods such as shrimp and salmon, there are a number of nutritional supplements that include the antioxidant. In addition, it is possible to obtain astaxanthin capsules from many health food and vitamin stores. In many cases, the individual supplements are synthetic rather than natural, although a few utilize a mixture of natural and synthetic ingredients.


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Is this also good for preventing cataracts?

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