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A member of the carotenoid family, astaxanthin has been identified as the reddish pigmentation in salmon, trout and some other fish. Despite its carotenoid status, astaxanthin does not exhibit vitamin A activity in humans.

Astaxanthin may also be called microalgae. The richest source for astaxanthin is the freshwater microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis, which accumulates astaxanthin in their aplanospores. Red yeast has also been identified as a rich natural source for astaxanthin.

Used mainly in the agricultural industry, astaxanthin may be an essential nutrient for many fish, and may be beneficial for improving the health and egg production of chickens, the fertility and litter survival of pigs, mastitis in cows, and muscular dysfunction in horses. Some preparations use astaxanthin to reduce levels of oxidative stress in farm animals and household pets.

Method of Action

Astaxanthin acts as a potent antioxidant by binding to free oxygen radicals in the bloodstream and endothelial tissue. Because oxidative damage leads to many diseases, like cancer and heart disease, astaxanthin may theoretically slow down the aging process and prevent the development of certain conditions related to oxidative damage. In vitro studies have also indicated that astaxanthin may help to reduce inflammation and boost antibody production.

Once ingested, astaxanthin reaches maximum plasma concentration after about 6 hours (Osterlie, 1999)

Therapeutic Approaches

Proposed purposes for astaxanthin include:

Macular degeneration
Alzheimer's Disease/Parkinson's Disease
Immune stimulation
Reduction of LDL cholesterol
H. pylori infection

However, reliable sources have not yet demonstrated that astaxanthin may be useful for humans.

The typical dose is 2.5 mg astaxanthin (usually in capsular form), taken twice daily, for a total of 5 mg/day.

Toxicity Factors

Researchers have not yet identified interactions and contraindications for astaxanthin. One study indicates that patients may safely take up to, but not exceeding 14.5 mg/day for a period of no longer than two weeks.



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