Follow Mint Lounge

Latest Issue

Home > Health> Wellness > Astaxanthin: The carotenoid you should know

Astaxanthin: The carotenoid you should know

The ‘King of Carotenoids’ is becoming a buzzword thanks to its innumerable benefits

Salmon, particularly the wild-caught sockeye salmon, is considered one of the richest sources of astaxanthin
Salmon, particularly the wild-caught sockeye salmon, is considered one of the richest sources of astaxanthin (Unsplash/Abstral Official)

A name that has been slowly gaining ground in the last few years, Astaxanthin is on the radar of everyone from scientists to dietitians and fitness enthusiasts to skincare lovers; and all for many good reasons. A member of the carotenoid family, it’s worth noting that astaxanthin is more potent than its better-known cousins: Vitamin A and beta-carotene. In so much so that it’s referred to as the ‘King of Carotenoids’. 

What are carotenoids? A study by Maoka T published in J Nat Med contains an elaborate description of carotenoids by the author. Carotenoids, he writes, are “Tetraterpene pigments, which exhibit yellow, orange, red and purple colors. Carotenoids are the most widely distributed pigments in nature and are present in photosynthetic bacteria, some species of archaea and fungi, algae, plants, and animals.” It is carotenoids that lend the bright yellow, orange and red hues to the foods we know like carrots, papaya, saffron and paprika. In addition to making plants and algae colourful, carotenoids are antioxidants recognized for their abilities to lower inflammation, boosting immunity and maintaining healthy vision and being good for the heart. 

Also read: Ways to maximise longevity while living your best life

The astaxanthin carotenoid, however, is found in microalgae, which are eaten by fish. Ever wondered what gives salmon its peachy tinge? You guessed it right. It’s astaxanthin from the algae the salmon eats.  As to why it’s considered the most powerful carotenoid, most information available online distills it to specific numbers: The phytonutrient is believed to be 6000 times effective than vitamin C; 110 times effective than Vitamin E; 560 times healthier than Green Tea extract and 800 times effective than Co-Enzyme Q10! 

With all these benefits stored in one ingredient, is it any wonder why it’s got everyone sitting up and taking notice? Here, for your understanding, are the key benefits of this tongue-twisting, wonder ingredient that is celebrated for its anti-aging, anti-inflammation, anti-cancer, lipid-lowering and anti-diabetes properties: 

  1. Most antioxidants are known to scavenge free radicals by acting on either the outer or inner cell membrane. Astaxanthin, in comparison, can fight free radicals in both outer and inner cell membranes, which means it offers better protection for our body. 
  2. It has been found that astaxanthin can cross the blood–brain barrier, which can help improve neurological function and overall cognitive health.  
  3. There’s a reason why astaxanthin is becoming a favourite ingredient for skincare products. It has been known to help reduce age spots, smoothen wrinkles, restore skin moisture, and protect the skin against sun damage. The claims were substantiated in a study by The Journal of the Polish Biochemical Society. And a study published in the journal Nutrients found that this carotenoid “exhibited multiple biological activities to preserve skin health and achieve effective skin cancer chemoprevention.”
  4. Astaxanthin is also known to help boost the body’s endurance. A study published in Antioxidants & Redox Signaling states that it “might help increase endurance, boost physical stamina and reduce fatigue levels during and after intensive exercises.”
  5. However, given that the human body cannot synthesize astaxanthin the best source of the carotenoid is seafood. There are natural supplements of the carotenoid available in the market today and the recommended dosage range is 6-8mg daily. However, it is advisable that you check with your doctor before you decide to add it to your diet.   
  6. According to findings by Grand View Research, the demand for astaxanthin is on the up and up. It is being used in everything from pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals to cosmetics and food & beverage. As per the study, the global astaxanthin market size was valued at $1.9 billion in 2022, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 17.2% from 2023 to 2030. 

    So, get ready to hear its name more often. 

Also read: 5 supplements to power your skincare arsenal

Next Story