There may be no other single natural substance that performs so many beneficial biochemical functions as this little-known carotenoid. Its scope is truly amazing. Here are just some of the ways astaxanthin can positively impact your health, according to the latest research:
Supporting immune function
Improving cardiovascular health by reducing C-Reactive Proteins (CRP), reducing triglycerides, and increasing beneficial HDL
GREATLY protecting your eyes from cataracts, macular degeneration, and blindness (which I will discuss at length below)
Protecting your brain from dementia and Alzheimer’s
Reducing your risk for many types of cancer (including cancers of the breast, colon, bladder, and mouth) by stimulating apoptosis (cancer cell death) and inhibiting lipid peroxidation
Improving recovery from spinal cord and other central nervous system injuries
Reducing inflammation from all causes, including arthritis and asthma
Improving endurance, workout performance, and recovery
Helping to stabilize blood sugar, thereby protecting your kidneys
Relieving indigestion and reflux
Improving fertility by increasing sperm strength and sperm count
Actually helping to prevent sunburn, and protecting you from the damaging effects of radiation (i.e., flying in airplanes, x-rays, CT scans, etc.)
Reducing oxidative damage to your DNA
Reducing symptoms from pancreatitis, multiple sclerosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and neurodegenerative diseases
I personally use it to help protect me from radiation damage when I am flying during the day. The radiation is reduced by 99 percent when flying at night so this is not an issue for night flights. However, it does have to be taken for three weeks to build up levels to provide this level of protection.
This impressive list continues to grow as more studies are being published all the time about this incredible nutrient.
Carotenoids and Your Eyes
When you were a child, odds are you were told, “Eat carrots — they’ll give you good eyesight!” There is some truth to that old adage, as carrots contain carotenoids — many of which are important for your eyes. Vitamin A, or retinal, is vital to your retina — without it, you would simply go blind. But vitamin A is readily available from your diet.
Of all the carotenoids, only zeaxanthin and lutein are found in your retina, which has the highest concentration of fatty acids of any tissue in your body. This is because your retina is a highly light and oxygen rich environment, and it needs a large force of free radical scavengers to prevent oxidative damage there.
It is theorized that your body concentrates zeaxanthin and lutein in your retina to perform this duty. The concentration of these two pigments in the macula of your retina is what gives it its characteristic yellow color. (The macula is actually called the “macula lutea” which literally means “yellow spot.”) Zeaxanthin and lutein both cross the blood-brain-retina barriers, as astaxanthin does.
It is interesting that your eye preferentially concentrates zeaxanthin over lutein in the central macular retinal area (called the fovea), where the greatest amount of light impinges — and zeaxanthin is a more effective singlet oxygen scavenger than lutein. Your body seems to naturally “know” this and accumulates it where it’s most needed!