What is Natural Astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin, a member of the carotenoids, is the pigments that give beautiful colors to many of the foods we eat. There are over 700 different carotenoids. In which they are produced in nature by plankton, algae and plants as well as a small number of bacteria and fungi. In plants and algae, carotenoids involve in the process of photosynthesis along with chlorophyll. Some animals eat a certain carotenoid and then convert it into a different carotenoid in their body, but all animals must originally obtain carotenoids from their diet as they cannot synthesize astaxanthin themselves.
Astaxanthin can be found in plants and animals but it is most prevalent in algae and phytoplankton. Any sea animals with a red or pinkish color, such as salmon, trout, lobster, shrimp and crab will also have Astaxanthin. These animals eat krill and other organisms that ingest Astaxanthin-containing algae and plankton and hence bearing the pinkish color.
Natural astaxanthin produced from various commercial sources differ in many parameters such as chemical characteristics bioavailability and metabolism. In comparison to all the other souces, Heamatococcus pluvialis, a fresh water algae, is the richest source of astaxanthin in nature. It can accumulate up to 50grams of astaxanthin per kilogram of dry biomass under environmental stress, such as elevated temperature or UV exposure. There are a majority of safety and efficacy studies conducted with astaxanthin derived from Haematococcus pluvialis-the primary natural source of astaxanthin for human consumption, which recognised by most regulatory authorities.
Optixanthin is derived from microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis1.
Haematococcus pluvialis is the superior source, in which approximately 50g of astaxanthin can be obtained from 1kg of dry Haematococcus pluvialis biomass.
Carotenoids are divided into two groups: Carotenes and Xanthophylls of which Astaxanthin is a member. The difference between the two groups is that the Xanthophylls have hydroxyl groups at the end of the molecule. Astaxanthin has more hydroxyl groups than other xanthophylls, which allow it to do more in the human body. Astaxanthin is considerably larger or longer than any other popular carotenoids. Its size and physical form allow it to be permeated to cell membranes where it is able to span the entire thickness. This allows astaxanthin to not only protect the inner and outer cell membrane from oxidative damage, but also to stabilize the cell membranes. No other carotenoids can produce this effect and that explains why the health benefits of astaxanthin are considerably greater.
Astaxanthin is known as the “King of Carotenoids” as its unique benefits and action in promoting health and protecting against cellular damage, especially in the brain and vascular system.
Astaxanthin acts as an antioxidant that helps to reduce oxidation, a process that will cause majority of inflammation to take place in our body. If the process of oxidation is not reduced, prolonged inflammation can cause insurmountable damage to our health and well-being. Astaxanthin is beneficial in reducing oxidative stress, hence reducing the damage to our body cells, proteins, and DNA. Asthaxanthin is not only popular as an antioxidant powerhouse, but also its effectiveness on anti-inflammatory property2-3.