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Astaxanthin – the red diamond among antioxidants

Christian P.
Gesundheits - Redakteur

Lesezeit 2 Minuten
Bildquelle: Shutterstock

Free radicals and antioxidants


Most of the things we do in our daily lives cause oxidation in our bodies. Breathing, digestion and even the normal functioning of our immune system, cause an increase in free radicals (reactive oxygen species). When we run down, large amounts of singlet oxygen (a more reactive version of the oxygen atom) and other harmful free radicals are produced. These damage numerous cell structures, they change cell membranes, proteins, even the genetic material and are significantly involved in the aging process.

At the same time, our body produces antioxidants. Antioxidants eliminate these free radicals before they can cause damage. In addition to being produced in our bodies, we also absorb antioxidants through our food. In the best case, this leads to an oxidative balance, but in today’s world this balance is mostly disturbed.


What disturbs this balance?


  1. Convenience foods, industrial farming methods, and long-distance transportation have led to a sharp decline in antioxidants in our daily diets.
  2. We are increasingly exposed to harmful environmental factors – such as air and water pollution, additives in our food, and increased levels of stress. This leads to more and more oxidative stress in our bodies.


In today’s world we have reached a level of oxidative imbalance that makes it necessary to take supplements in addition to a healthy diet. Best with a strong, effective, natural antioxidant for maximum protection. Natural astaxanthin proved to be the most powerful antioxidant discovered to date, with properties far exceeding those of the others.


The number 1 antioxidant


Astaxanthin is a naturally occurring pigment that gives marine organisms such as crabs, shrimp and salmon their reddish coloration. The highest concentrations of natural astaxanthin are obtained from the freshwater algae Haematococcus pluvialis. Thanks to its unique molecular structure, astaxanthin contains both lipophilic and hydrophilic properties and can bond with the cell membrane for optimal protection, both internally and externally.[1]

Astaxanthin was identified as a particularly potent antioxidant as early as the 1940’s.[2] First experiments comparing the oxidative potential of different carotenoids were conducted in Japan in the early 1990’s. These were the first to demonstrate the superiority of astaxanthin as a free radical scavenger.[3]



In 2007, Nishida et al. published a study that examined the effectiveness of various antioxidants in eliminating singlet oxygen. The antioxidants examined in this study were, natural astaxanthin, coenzyme Q10, vitamins C and E, and many other known antioxidants.[4]

The study results not only confirmed previous research, but clearly showed that no other antioxidant can eliminate singlet oxygen nearly as effectively.


The results showed astaxanthin is:

  • 6 000 times more potent than vitamin C
  • 500 times more potent than curcumin I
  • 790- times as potent as KoQ10
  • 110 times more potent than vitamin E
  • 5.5 times more potent than fucoxanthin
  • 5 times more potent than beta-carotene
  • 2.6 times more potent than lutein



The strengths of astaxanthin


Astaxanthin is not only an enormously powerful antioxidant, but it is also unique in the way it works in our bodies. There are 4 different aspects on which the superior properties of astaxanthin can be seen. Even independently, each of these aspects would make a serious difference to the effectiveness of a compound, the 4 points below form a “critical mass” of evidence for the superior properties of astaxanthin.


The 4 major antioxidant benefits of natural astaxanthin:


  1. It spreads throughout the body and protects cells by spreading in the cell membrane.
  2. It never becomes a pro-oxidant.
  3. It can cross the blood-brain barrier and the blood-retinal barrier.
  4. It connects with the muscle tissue.


In the following text we want to explain these 4 points in a little more detail:


  1. Dissemination in the body


The length and shape of astaxanthin molecules allows them to extend across the entire width of the cell membrane. This characteristic allows astaxanthin to effectively protect the cell from invaders such as free radicals. It has been shown that astaxanthin is particularly capable of spreading throughout the body. In the bloodstream, muscle tissue, skin, and other major organs.[6]

This dual ability to distribute throughout the body as well as protect the entire cell makes astaxanthin the most effective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory for humans.



  1. It never becomes a pro-oxidant


Many other excellent antioxidants can become pro-oxidants under certain circumstances anddamage our cells. For example, well-known vitamin antioxidants such as vitamins C and E and even carotenoid antioxidants such as lycopenes and zeaxanthin can all become pro-oxidants.[8] Fortunately, astaxanthin can never become a pro-oxidant and thereby damage our cells.[9]



  1. It can cross the blood-brain barrier and the blood-retinal barrier


Many antioxidants cannot help protect our eyes or brain because they are unable to cross the blood-brain barrier or the blood-retinal barrier.

Astaxanthin can penetrate the brain and contribute to its protection as an antioxidant. Once it reaches our brain, it can travel further and cross the blood-retinal barrier to our eyes.

Even some of the earliest research on astaxanthin in the 1940s and 1950s showed its ability to reach the brain and eyes of rats.[10,11] In recent years, many human clinical studies have been conducted that have confirmed the many eye and brain health benefits of astaxanthin.[6]

Once astaxanthin is in the brain and eyes, it is not only the antioxidant activity that is prophylactic, but also its broad spectrum anti-inflammatory properties. This double whammy against oxidation and inflammation is exactly what the brain and eyes need to function well and stay healthy.



  1. It combines with the muscle tissue


Astaxanthin can spread throughout the body and reach all major organs. It can also bond with muscle tissue to protect muscle from increased oxidation and inflammation and ensure optimal muscle function. Two important results of these qualitative properties of astaxanthin are faster recovery from training and improved performance of athletes.


For its special and unmatched strength as an antioxidant, as well as its extraordinary biochemical and physiological properties, astaxanthin is rightly called the “diamond of radical scavengers”.

Due to its broad spectrumanti-inflammatory propertiescoupled with its ability to protect the DNA and mitochondria of cells, astaxanthin is undoubtedly the most useful antioxidant that can be consumed as a dietary supplement. Therefore, it is recommended as a preventive anti-aging agent, especially to people over 40.






  1. Ambati, R. R. et al. (2014) Astaxanthin: Sources, extraction, stability, biological activities and its commercial applications – A review, Marine Drugs, 12(1), pp. 128–152.
  2. Herisset, Armand. (1946). Antioxidant properties of carotenoids and their derivatives. Weekly Report of Academy of Sciences Meetings, Volume 223, July–December 1946, Paris, Gauthier-Villars, Imprimeur-Libraire.
  3. Miki, W. (1991). Biological functions and activities of animal carotenoids. Pure & Applied Chemistry, 1991, Vol. 63, No. 1, pp. 141–146.
  4. Nishida, Y., Yamashita, E., Miki, W. (2007). Quenching activities of common hydrophilic and lipophilic antioxidants against singlet oxygen using chemiluminescence detection system. Carotenoid Science 2007, Volume 11, pp. 16–20.
  5. Capelli, B., Bagchi, D., Cysewski, G. (2013). Synthetic Astaxanthin is significantly inferior to algal-based Astaxanthin as an antioxidant and may not be suitable as a human nutritional supplement. NutraFoods 12, pp. 145–52.
  6. Capelli, B., and Cysewski, G. (2014). The World’s Best Kept Health Secret: Natural Astaxanthin. ISBN #0-979-2353-0-6.
  7. Yamashita, E. (2013) Astaxanthin as a medical food,, Functional foods in health and diseases 3(7), pp. 254-258.
  8. Martin, H., Jager, C., Ruck, C., Schimdt, M. (1999). Anti- and Prooxidant Properties of Carotenoids. J. Prakt. Chem. 341(3) pp. 302–308.
  9. Beutner, S., Bloedorn, B., Frixel, S., Blanco, I., Homann, T., Martin, H., Mayer, B., Noack, P., Ruck, C., Schmidt, M., Schulke, I., Sell, S., Ernst, H., Haremza, S., Seybold, G., Sies, H., Stahl, W., Walsh, R. (2000). Quantitative assessment of antioxidant properties of natural colorants and phytochemicals: carotenoids, flavonoids, phenols and indigoids. The role of B-carotene in antioxidant functions. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 81, pp. 559–568.
  10. Grangaud, R. (1951). Research on Astaxanthin, a New Vitamin A Factor. Doctoral Thesis at University of Lyon, France.
  11. Massonet, R. (1958). Research on Astaxanthin‘s Biochemistry. Doctoral Thesis at University of Lyon, France.