Saturday, February 22, 2014

Astaxanthin / Natures Protective Powerhouse

Flamingoes are born with grey, not pink, feathers. 

It's only after eating their natural diet of algae and crustaceans, which are loaded with naturally occurring pigments called carotenoids, that they turn the pink color they're known for. So what does this have to do with you and your health, and a word you can't pronounce yet? Well I'll tell you. One of the pigments that give flamingoes their color, is one of the most powerful "super-nutrients" out there. That carotenoid's name is Astaxanthin. Carotenoids are naturally occurring pigments that are present in foods and animals. They give the bright colors. In the body they can be utilized as a powerful antioxidant to combat the effects of aging and disease. It's name is a tongue twister. It's pronounced as-ta-zan-thin. See that wasn't so hard. Astaxanthin exhibits exceptionally potent free-radical scavenging activity, and protects your cells, organs and body tissues from their oxidative damage, making it a formatable anti-oxident.

A great anti-oxidant reduces oxidative stress and inflammation, which can be the cause of many medical issues. Astaxanthin can impact many aspects of our health, but one of the most important is it's impact on your brain. It's hundreds of times more effective than vitamin E in eliminating brain damaging free radicals. Recently now, dementia has been linked to insulin resistance. Some are even referring to Alzheimer's as the third form of diabetes, so one of the most important things you can do, is to keep your insulin levels under control with proper diet and exercise. There is no question that insulin resistance is one of the most pervasive influences on brain damage, as it contributes massively to inflammation, which will prematurely degenerate your brain. Astaxanthin, unlike some carotenoids, is not converted to vitamin A (retinol) in the human body. Too much vitamin A is toxic for humans, but not astaxanthin, it a has lower toxicity. As an anti-oxidant it is:
  • 65 times more powerful than vitamin C
  • 54 times more powerful than beta-carotene
  • 14 times more powerful than vitamin E
Astaxanthin is also far more effective than other carotenoids at "singlet oxygen quenching," which is a particular type of oxidation. The damaging effects of sunlight and various organic materials are caused by this less-stable form of oxygen. Astaxanthin is 550 times more powerful than vitamin E, 800 times stronger than CoQ10, 550 times more powerful than green tea catechins, and 11 times more powerful than beta-carotene at neutralizing singlet oxygen. A convincing demonstration of the benefits of astaxanthin for athletic performance is the feat of salmon swimming upstream to spawn. This algae-based antioxidant has been shown to be a very effective treatment for all types of tendon, joint and muscle pain, arthritis and tennis elbow. Astaxanthin has become the favorite supplement of endurance athletes for its ability to help your body generate energy, and reduce lactic acid buildup that depletes you of your stamina. The benefits of astaxanthin for serious athletes are significant. Regular users report that supplementing with astaxanthin:
  • increases strength and stamina
  • reduces recovery time
  • prevents joint and muscle soreness after exercise                                                          
If you excercise regularly, you don't want to be slowed down from fatigue or sore joints and muscles. Anything that can reduce inflammation will benefit your performance, and astaxanthin has been shown to be one of the most effective natural anti-inflammatories there is. The energy-producing activity of the mitochondria in your muscles has a downside. Activity generates highly reactive free radicals that damage your cell membranes. The more strenuous your activity, the more free radicals you produce. This cellular damage results in excessive inflammation which results in tired and sore muscles. Numerous studies, with humans as well as animals, have shown that astaxanthin's powerful ability to quench these free radicals gives you more strength and endurance. Astaxanthin is also effective in reducing lactic acid buildup during intense exercise. Lactic acid is what produces the "burn" you feel when you're exerting your muscles to their max.  Recent studies reveal that astaxanthin is the ultimate supplement for eye health and the prevention of blindness, because it's one of the few antioxidants that can penetrate the retinal barrier in your eyes. Supplementing with astaxanthin has been found to have protective benefits against a wide range of vision-related problems, including:

  • cataracts
  • macular degeneration
  • diabetic retinopathy
  • glaucoma and many others
Another one of the most frequently-reported benefits of astaxanthin is an improvement in skin quality. For anyone that is looking for natural protection against sunburns, astaxanthin is a great alternative to the chemical-laden products that are sold in many stores. There is evidence that astaxanthin not only prevents UV sun damage from occurring, but may actually help to reverse external signs of aging, from the inside out. This has been clearly demonstrated in human clinical trials. Many users of astaxanthin supplements report that they are able to spend significantly more time out in the sun without burning than they were able to before. This is due to the powerful anti-inflammatory properties that astaxanthin has. A sunburn is essentially an inflammation of your skin. Building up enough astaxanthin to effectively prevent sun damage may take several weeks, but simply consuming foods rich in astaxanthin is not enough to prevent sunburn. However, taking the antioxidant as a dietary supplement in pill form may be beneficial. Also a health survey taken by the Nutrex-Hawaii company showed that over 80% of those experiencing back pain and symptoms from osteo, or rheumatoid arthritis reported an improvement from supplementing with astaxanthin.
 
Now unless you are a flamingo or some other marine animal, it is virtually impossible to obtain enough astaxanthin from your diet alone because there are only two prime sources, microalgae, and sea creatures that consume that algae like salmon, shellfish, and krill. You should be taking krill oil everyday for it's omega-3 fats and also because krill oil naturally contains astaxanthin. So you can get some, astaxanthin in your diet by taking krill oil. Shrimp, crawfish, crab and lobster all get their distinctive red color from the carotenoid astaxanthin. Also rainbow trout and salmon roe. The key here is eating wild caught and not farm fish, which gets its pink color from astaxanthin. Do not confuse this with the pink color of farmed sea life, which comes from synthetic astaxanthin made from highly processed petrochemical food supplements, that are fed to the farmed fish. When you place raw seafood into boiling water and watch them turn red, you are watching the carotenoid astaxanthin make its appearance. In much the same way that leaves change color when the cold weather reveals pigments that were there all along but invisible to the eye, heat denatures certain proteins in the seafood, and the red pigment astaxanthin becomes visible.

So, you'd have to eat several ounces of wild salmon every single day to get a high enough dose of astaxanthin. That's not only expensive but also puts you at risk of mercury and other toxins that may have accumulated in the fish. FYI, Carrots, red peppers, and other red-pigmented vegetables and fruits also contain astaxanthin. The best ways to get substancial amounts of natural astaxanthin is through supplementation with a high-quality source. Now do your homework on this one there are a lot of fakes out there. Keep in mind also when you take your supplement, astaxanthin is fat-soluble, and is therefore best taken with a meal that contains fat. You can also look for a supplement formula that contains some sort of natural oil or fatty acid that will help maximize your absorption. Without this fat, your absorption could be poor. This goes for other fat soluble vitamins supplements like A, E, and D. Make sure the astaxanthin formula you choose is created from natural marine microalgae. Most recommendations for daily dosages of natural astaxanthin range from 4-8mg. So, look for at least a 4mg minimum serving size so you won’t have to take as many capsules. So to recap Astaxanthin can:
  • Reduce the appearance of wrinkles, dry skin, age spots, and freckles
  • Boost your brain and nervous system protection from free radicals
  • Promote your joint and skeletal system health 
  • Increase your strength and stamina
  • Improve your endurance
  • Enable faster recovery from exercise
  • Enhance your visual acuity health and depth perception
As with any supplement or medication, there are some people who are more at risk than others. You may want to consult with your doctor before taking astaxanthin if you:
  • Have shown signs of sensitivity or allergy towards the microalgae
  • Have any hormonal issues or are taking any hormonal treatments
  • Have issues with your autoimmune system or are currently taking medications that are designed to lower your immune system response
  • Are pregnant or may be pregnant in the near future
  • Have osteoporosis or low amounts of calcium?
  • Struggle with low blood pressure
The only question now is, What are you waiting for? Good Luck...






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