Astaxanthin is a carotenoid that is contained in crustaceans, some microalgae, salmon and krill. It is the agent that contributes to the red color and has been labeled as a food colorant in some countries (receiving an E161j E number). However the most important property of astaxanthin is that it is an antioxidant. Antioxidants are crucial for our health as they bind free radicals in our cells and take them out of our bodies.
The uniqueness of astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin is, along with lycopene, one of the most powerful carotenoid antioxidants available. Carotenoids are responsible for colors in vegetables, fruit and flowers, so most people already have a lot of regular carotenoids in their diet. Astaxanthin, however, is found only in microalgae and organisms the feed upon microalgae – krill, fish or crustaceans. Moreover, astaxanthin is unique, because it passes the blood and brain barrier and is more effective then any other carotenoid.
Not a pro-oxidant!
Another unique feature of asthaxantin is that it does not act as a pro-oxidant as other carotines, such as lycopene or beta-carotene. When beta-carotene is consumed in large quantities, it might act as a pro-oxidant, which only has an adverse effect. Astaxanthin, however, does not have that property. One more property of astaxanthin is that it stimulates apoptosis, which is the death of cancer cells. As a result of all the properties mentioned above astaxanthin can be called a cancer-fighting superfood. Indeed, research shows that it is effective against breast cancer, colon cancer and mouth cancer.
Cancer fighting seafood: look into microalgae, northern fish, salmon, shrimps and crustaceans.
We mentioned that, unlike other carotenoids, astaxanthin can be found only in microalgae and microalgae eaters. As a result, receiving it in our diet is harder then receiving other antioxidants, but it’s well worth it, considering how powerful astaxanthin is. Of course there is artificial astaxanthin, it’s synthesized and used as a coloration food supplements for farm raised animals and fish, but you want to take natural astaxanthin obtained from natural sources. So you need to look into microalgae, northern fish, salmon, shrimps and crustaceans.
Krill oil might well be the best astaxanthin source for people, since krill is very rich in it. Moreover, krill oil is made of krill harvested in ecologically pure and unpolluted waters of the arctic, so it’s the best and cleanest astaxanthin you can get. There are many manufacturers offering krill oil, most establish brands provide good quality, so you should look into taking krill oil as a food supplement.