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.
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: