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Health Benefits and Side Effects of Astaxanthin Supplements

Astaxanthin is a chemical belonging to a group of pigments called carotenoids.  It is found in certain plants and animals. It occurs naturally in certain algae and causes the pink or red color in salmon, trout, lobster, shrimp, and other seafood. This algae is also used as a source for the astaxanthin in supplements.

Astaxanthin is an antioxidant. This effect might protect cells from damage. Astaxanthin might also improve the way the immune system functions. Astaxanthin is used for treating Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, “brain attack” (stroke), high cholesterol, and an eye condition called age-related macular degeneration. It is also used for preventing cancer.

Astaxanthin has been claimed to be ten times more effective than beta carotene and 100 times more effective than vitamin E in preventing lipid peroxidation. Astaxanthin protects the cellular and mitochondrial membranes and the ocular tissues against the photo-oxidative damage to DNA, involved in AMD pathogenesis. Carotenoids can help protect the retina from oxidative damage. The free radical scavenging activity of astaxanthin protects lipids from peroxidation and reduces oxidative damage of LDL-cholesterol (thereby reducing arterial plaque formation), cells, cell membranes, mitochondrial membranes. Astaxanthin increases strength and endurance.

Astaxanthin is one of those important carotenoids and might be beneficial for nerve damage associated with age-related macular degeneration. Astaxanthin may easily cross the blood brain barrier and could have antioxidant effects in the brain. Astaxanthin might exert beneficial effects in protection against hypertension and stroke, and could improve memory in vascular dementia. Astaxanthin has a peculiar chemical structure. Astaxanthin enhances the cellular membranes stability as it locates crosswise inside them.

Astaxanthin supplements are nutrients that help protect the body from harmful toxins which could cause cancer and other harmful diseases. It’s said to be very similar to beta-carotene because it has a bright red pigmentation. As a matter of fact, it’s used as food coloring for animal food in the USA. Its potency as an anti-oxidant is ten times stronger than beta-carotene.

Compared to beta-carotene and other Vitamin A variants, astaxanthin supplements have lower toxicity levels. Most people take astaxanthin supplements because they don’t have enough seafood in their diet, which is the most common source of this nutrient. Studies have shown, though, that those who eat seafood and still take astaxanthin supplements still benefit from the extra dosage.

While astaxanthin supplements include several health benefits, side effects can occur as well. You should consult with your doctor before taking astaxanthin supplements. Astaxanthin may hinder an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase. As a result, it may keep testosterone from changing into the hormone DHT in the body. Side effects can include lower libido, growth in male breasts, and erectile dysfunction. They may also lower blood pressure and calcium levels.


Astaxanthin supplements should be avoided if you are allergic or sensitive to:

  • Similar carotenoids such as canthaxanthin
  • A source of astaxanthin, such as the algae that produces it
  • Drugs that inhibit 5-alpha-reductase like finasteride (Propecia, Proscar) or dutasteride (Avodart, Jalyn) 
  • Women who are pregnant or might become pregnant should avoid astaxanthin.
  • Astaxanthin may increase your immune function, so use caution when taking it if you:
  • Have autoimmune problems or you're
  • Taking drugs to suppress your immune system, since it may increase your immune function

While the general feedback from those who took astaxanthin supplements is positive, your medical records will always be unique from everyone else’s. Your doctor’s advice is especially necessary when you’re taking other medicines. For all you know, these medicines might be counteracting the supplement. You wouldn’t want to waste money, or worse, suffer from the repercussions of a bad chemical interaction by taking astaxanthin supplements.

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