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16 Benefits and Side Effects of Astaxanthin [Updated Dec/2022]

Astaxanthin is said to have many health benefits. It’s been linked to healthier skin, endurance, heart health, joint pain, and may even have a future in cancer treatment.

Astaxanthin was first discovered to be isolated from lobsters in 1938. Because of its antioxidant and natural pigment properties, it is widely used in aquaculture, food, cosmetics, and health products.

The possible physiological benefits of astaxanthin include: protecting the retina, improving eye fatigue, enhancing mitochondrial function, promoting the use of fat as an energy source, improving exercise performance, beautifying the skin, controlling arteriosclerosis, and inhibiting hypertension. Note 1

But is it really effective after taking an extra oral dose? Any the side effects or danger of using astaxanthin? Please refer to the analysis report.

What is Astaxanthin?

Astaxanthin is a red-orange carotenoid (similar in structure to β-Carotene and lycopene), which is a kind of secondary metabolites produced by microalgae under stress conditions (such as strong light, high salinity, high carbon-to-nitrogen ratio, and low nutrient rate), it has a protective effect on itself (especially Haematococcus pluvialis has the highest production).

Since astaxanthin contains two oxygenated groups in each ring structure, it has a strong antioxidant capacity. There are bacteria and yeasts that can produce astaxanthin.

Some marine or terrestrial organisms feed on microalgae, such as shrimp, crab, trout, krill, flamingo, quail, and salmon, so they accumulate in the tissues and show a bright red-orange color.

The antioxidant capacity of astaxanthin is 54 times that of β-Carotene, 14 times that of Vitamin E, and 65 times that of Vitamin C. Note 2It is one of the few components that can enter the blood-brain barrier and cross both sides of the cell membrane, and can provide the most complete antioxidant effect from the inside out (the point is that it does not produce pro-oxidant) Note 3

Since the human body cannot synthesize astaxanthin naturally, its intake depends on the food ingested in the diet, such as salmon, shrimp and crab.

What Are the Proven Benefits of Astaxanthin?

  1. Astaxanthin Benefits People With Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a series of symptoms caused by compression of the nerves in the wrist area, resulting in tingling, weakness or numbness when exerting force.

The disease is mainly related to women or those with wrist fractures, dislocations or arthritis, diabetes, obesity, thyroid dysfunction, renal failure or occupational factors, etc.

In terms of treatment, non-surgical therapies are the priority, such as wrist splints, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory analgesics and physical therapy.

A triple-blind randomized controlled trial (9 weeks in 63 patients with carpal tunnel syndrome) showed that the addition of astaxanthin did not appear to be superior to the control group using regular treatment (drugs plus splints) alone. There were no differences in related measures (such as the Symptom Severity Scale or the Physical Disability Questionnaire).Note 4

*Conclusion: Astaxanthin combined with regular therapies cannot speed up the recovery of carpal tunnel syndrome, which needs further confirmation.

  1. Astaxanthin Improves Skin Aging Problems

The skin is the barrier between the human body and the external environment. It protects the body from exogenous chemical and physical factors, and participates in metabolic processes. It has the function of absorbing and regulating body temperature. It is the first line of defense against pathogenic microorganisms and participates in the immune process.

Intrinsic aging is an inevitable physiological process, it will cause skin thinning, dryness, fine lines and gradual shrinkage of the skin. Note 5

While external aging is caused by external environmental factors, such as air pollution, smoking, malnutrition, sun exposure, etc., resulting in coarse wrinkles, loss of elasticity, sagging and rough appearance, among which sun exposure is the main factor leading to external aging of the skin , known as Photoaging.

A systematic review (including 6 randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trials) indicated that astaxanthin supplementation (daily doses of 3 mg to 6 mg) improved skin texture, appearance (wrinkles) and moisture levels, It also protects against photoaging skin damage caused by UV rays. Note 5

*Conclusion: Supplementing astaxanthin may have a positive effect on improving skin health (especially skin damage caused by photoaging), and is limited by the small number of samples, more studies are needed to support it

  1. Astaxanthin Benefits People With Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is the main type of diabetes, accounting for approximately 90% of all cases and 10.7% of all-cause mortality in people aged 20 to 70 years.

The main chronic complications associated with diabetes are microvascular complications, such as neuropathy, retinopathy, and macrovascular complications, such as coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, stroke, diabetic encephalopathy, and diabetic foot.

Related acute complications include: diabetic ketoacidosis, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, thrombosis and electrolyte disturbances. In addition, it is also associated with an increased risk of cancer, physical and cognitive disability, tuberculosis and depression.

A randomized, placebo-controlled trial (8 weeks in 44 patients with type 2 diabetes) showed that astaxanthin supplementation increased serum adiponectin concentrations and reduced visceral body fat mass, triglyceride, very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration, systolic blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Note 5

*Conclusion: Astaxanthin supplementation may have a positive effect on the control of type 2 diabetes, but limited by the small sample size, more large-scale studies are still needed to confirm its clinical benefits.

  1. Astaxanthin Improves Mental Fatigue

There are two types of fatigue: physical and psychological. Physical fatigue, also known as peripheral fatigue, is caused by repetitive muscle movements.

In contrast, mental fatigue can be defined as a psychobiological state caused by prolonged periods of high-demand cognitive activity, manifested by reduced efficiency of cognitive performance.

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study (4 weeks in 24 healthy adult volunteers) indicated that supplementation of astaxanthin and sesamin compound capsules could significantly improve recovery from mental fatigue (especially induced by video display terminals). fatigue is most pronounced). Note 6

*Conclusion: Astaxanthin may be helpful for improving mental fatigue, but limited by the number of small samples, more large-scale trials are still needed to prove it.

  1. Astaxanthin Benefits Kidney Transplant Recipients

Compared with the general population, patients with chronic kidney disease, especially dialysis patients, have an approximately 10 to 20 times higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Although successful renal transplantation can significantly reduce this risk, renal replacement therapy still has an annual cardiovascular event rate of 3.5% to 5%. Cardiac mortality is 10 times that of the general population, and it is fatal or fatal. The annual incidence of non-fatal cardiovascular events is 50 times that of the general population.

A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study (1 year in 61 kidney transplant recipients) showed that supplementation with astaxanthin (12 mg daily) was effective in improving arterial stiffness, oxidative stress, inflammation, vascular function, Indexes such as carotid intima-media thickness, expansion index, central blood pressure, and subendocardial survival ratio were not significantly helpful . Note 7

*Conclusion: For kidney transplant recipients, supplementation of astaxanthin does not significantly help improve related vascular indicators.

  1. Astaxanthin Reduces Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress is a phenomenon caused by the imbalance of the production and accumulation of reactive oxygen species in cells and tissues, which can easily cause damage to lipids, proteins and DNA.

The reactive oxygen species are produced by the mitochondrial oxidative metabolism and the response of cells to the invasion of foreign organisms, cytokines and bacteria.

Excessive oxidative stress is generally considered to be the starting point of many diseases, and plays an important role in the development of aging and chronic degenerative diseases, such as arthritis, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, inflammation and cancer etc.

A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (meta-analysis, including 9 randomized controlled trials) showed that astaxanthin supplementation significantly reduced markers of oxidative stress: plasma malondialdehyde, isoprostane, and enhance superoxide dismutase and total antioxidant capacity. Note 5

In subgroup dose analysis, high doses of astaxanthin (≥20 mg/d) had significant antioxidant effects, but low doses (<20 mg/d) had no significant effect.

Further subgroup duration analysis showed that astaxanthin had an antioxidant effect after 3 weeks of intervention, but this effect was not observed after 12 weeks or 3 months of intervention.

*Conclusion: Astaxanthin may have an antioxidant effect on the human body, but due to inconsistent research results, more research is still needed to prove it.

  1. Astaxanthin Prevents Cognitive Functions Declining

As we age, cognitive ability is essential for independence, including whether a person can live independently, manage finances, take medications correctly, and drive safely.

Prevention and treatment of cognitive decline and dementia are therefore major concerns in successful aging.

Normal cognitive aging is quite different from dementia and does not result in the loss of neurons. Some cognitive abilities, such as vocabulary, are not affected by brain aging and may even improve with age, but others, such as conceptual reasoning, memory and processing speed, gradually decline over time.

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study (12 weeks in 96 middle-aged and elderly subjects with complaints of age-related forgetfulness) showed that oral astaxanthin improved scores on related cognitive tests, including CogHealth battery scores (simple response, choice response, working memory, delayed recall, distraction) and Groton Maze Learning Test scores. Note 5

Another randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study (8 weeks in 60 middle-aged and older adults) showed that oral astaxanthin (8 mg daily) improved word recall tests in subjects aged 45 to 55 years Results (words recalled after 5 minutes). Note 6

*Conclusion: Oral astaxanthin may help improve age-related cognitive deterioration, but it is limited by the small number of samples, and more large-scale trials are needed to support it.

  1. Astaxanthin Can Protect the Vocal Cords

Singers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, nurses, salespeople, and public speakers all have one thing in common, that is, they need to frequently use the vocal folds to speak to the outside world, but excessive use can easily lead to hoarseness, weakness, and sore throat, difficulty speaking.

An estimated 17.9 million adults in the U.S. report problems with their voice, and these disorders can be avoided by protecting your vocal cords.

A study (28 days in 10 men) showed that oral administration of astaxanthin significantly reduced vocal cord damage (measured by aerodynamic assessment, acoustic analysis, grba scale) caused by sound loading. Note 7

*Conclusion: Oral astaxanthin may protect the vocal cords from damage and inflammation caused by sound load, but it is limited by the small number of samples and lack of control groups, and more design and precise studies are needed for further verification.

  1. Astaxanthin Benefits People With Functional Dyspepsia

Functional dyspepsia is a disease with symptoms of postprandial fullness, early satiety or stomach pain, which often affects the quality of life and work efficiency.

Although there is a prevalence of 10% to 30% worldwide (most common in women), there is currently no clear pathophysiological explanation behind this condition.

Some patients also experience nausea, heartburn (although this is not the main symptom), and even weight loss (patients with functional dyspepsia are rarely obese).

Motility disorders, visceral hypersensitivity, acid disorders, Helicobacter pylori infection, or psychosocial factors are all considered possible causative factors.

A controlled, prospective, randomized and double-blind trial (4 weeks, 44 patients with functional dyspepsia), divided into 3 groups, do not use placebo, 16 mg, or 40 mg astaxanthin. Note 8

It was found that there was no significant difference in the gastrointestinal symptom scores (Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale, including abdominal pain, indigestion, and reflux symptoms) among the three groups, but the improvement of reflux symptoms was most obvious in the high-dose group and those with Helicobacter pylori infection.

*Conclusion: As of now, oral astaxanthin has no clinically significant effect on improving functional dyspepsia.

  1. Astaxanthin Improves Male Fertility

Regardless of race or ethnicity, infertility affects approximately 13% to 20% of partners, and male factors account for approximately 25% to 50%.

Male infertility is not only related to structural abnormalities (such as varicocele, blockage of semen outflow or neurological disorders), but abnormal sperm morphology and function (such as decreased sperm count, decreased activity, abnormal morphology) are often occupied. The biggest factor, and the reason behind it is mostly related to excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS). Note 9

A randomized double-blind trial (3 months, 30 men) pointed out that compared with placebo, oral astaxanthin has the effect of increasing sperm motility, reducing reactive oxygen species and inhibiting B (Inhibin B) , can also increase the partner’s pregnancy rate .Note 10

*Conclusion: Astaxanthin may have a positive effect on improving conventional semen parameters and increasing pregnancy rate, but the results still need more large-scale experiments to confirm.

  1. Astaxanthin Improves Eye Health

The prevalence of 3C electronic products has made the eyes the most overworked organ of the whole body. Because of excessive indulgence, the time spent in reading and enjoying the beautiful scenery has been greatly reduced.

Because of the excessive use of the eyes, ophthalmology has suddenly become a hot industry, and there is an endless stream of patients. If it is simple fatigue or dry eyes, you can also order some medicine, but it is worrying about serious eye diseases such as macular degeneration and glaucoma.

Astaxanthin is similar in structure to lutein and zeaxanthin (same as carotenoid family), has excellent antioxidant capacity, and has bio accumulate for eye tissues, so it is helpful for eye health.

In a small study, astaxanthin (12 mg daily for four weeks) was found to help increase blood flow to the choroidal of the eye, which has the effect of improving ocular circulation.  Note 11

Another study pointed out that for cataract, the most common eye disease in the elderly, astaxanthin can reduce the oxidative stress of the eye, especially the aqueous humor (aqueous humor) ( Note 12), which may help to reduce the formation of cataract (overdose) High oxidative stress is thought to be the main cause of cataract formation). Note 13

  1. Astaxanthin Lowers Blood Lipids

Hyperlipidemia is mostly caused by inappropriate diet and lifestyle. It is a major known causative factor of cardiovascular disease. According to the World Health Organization, more than 50% cases of ischemic heart disease are related to it.

In vitro studies have found that astaxanthin can regulate PPAR-α receptors and reduce cell lipid accumulation, so it may have the effect of regulating blood lipids.Note 14

However, a systematic literature review and meta-analysis pointed out (meta-analysis, including 7 randomized controlled trials, a total of 280 participants), supplementing astaxanthin did not significantly improve the relevant blood lipid index (cholesterol or triglycerides) ( Except for a slight improvement in blood sugar). Note 15

*Conclusion: Astaxanthin has no significant effect on lowering blood lipids, but further confirmation is needed considering the lack and heterogeneity of the included studies (population composition, quality).

  1. Astaxanthin Regulates Immune Function

Why living in the same environment, some people are very prone to colds, but others are not? The difference is the difference in immunity.

The immune system is an important weapon for humans to resist bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells, but unfortunately it will gradually weaken with age, but relatively, the advantage is that it can be strengthened and adjusted by external methods.

A double-blind controlled study (for 8 weeks, with 14 female subjects) pointed out that oral administration of astaxanthin can help improve immune response, reduce DNA oxidative damage and some inflammatory indicators (but due to the small sample size, more evidence is needed). Note 16

  1. Astaxanthin Benefits People With Muscle Damage

Everyone knows the benefits of exercise to improve health, but inappropriate exercise is worse than no exercise at all. As for inappropriate exercise, it means that you don’t have the habit of exercising at ordinary times, and you go to the gym or go to the mountain as soon as you are on holiday. Some studies have shown that forms of exercise that increase the risk of injury or sudden death.

In one study, it was found that astaxanthin (4 mg daily for 28 days) helped improve performance in cycling races, in addition to improving timing performance (up to 121s, equivalent to 5%), and increasing overall strength output (up to 20 W increase, equivalent to 15 %). Note 17

Another double-blind controlled study on football players also pointed out that astaxanthin (4mg per day for 90 days) can reduce the indexes related to muscle fiber damage after intense training, including creatine kinase, aspartic acid Aminotransferase.Note 18

*Conclusion: Astaxanthin may be helpful for the prevention and treatment of multiple sclerosis, but it still needs further verification by human research.

  1. Astaxanthin Benefits People With Multiple Sclerosis (Animal Studies)

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic and complex neurodegenerative disease, with the central nervous system as the main target, and is a type of autoimmune disease (local inflammation caused by the central nervous system, leading to demyelination, glial scar and axon loss).

About 2.5 million people are affected worldwide, and young people aged 20 to 40 are the main affected population, with a male to female ratio of 1:2.

Multiple sclerosis presents with sudden onset of focal sensory disturbances with unilateral painless visual impairment, diplopia, limb weakness, unsteady gait, and defecation or bladder symptoms.

An animal study showed that astaxanthin decreased splenocytes proliferation index and pro-inflammatory cytokines in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (an acceptable model for multiple sclerosis research) Levels (proinflammatory cytokine levels). Note 8

*Conclusion: Astaxanthin may be helpful in the prevention and treatment of multiple sclerosis, but human studies are still needed for further verification.

  1. Astaxanthin Benefits People With Osteoarthritis (Animal Studies)

Osteoarthritis is the most common chronic musculoskeletal disease. Epidemiological studies estimate that affected patients represent approximately 15% of the world’s population, it is a leading cause of activity limitation and absenteeism in the working age group, and is associated with a significant decline in life function in the elderly.

Understanding the early changes in osteoarthritis is important because these changes are still reversible and further progression of the disease can be slowed or reversed with preventive treatments.

An animal study indicated that astaxanthin decreased the rate of cartilage degradation in osteoarthritis induced by anterior cruciate ligament transection. Note 19

*Conclusion: Astaxanthin may be helpful in improving osteoarthritis, but human studies are still needed for further verification.

How to Eat Astaxanthin? What is the Recommended Dosage?

Astaxanthin is a fat-soluble carotenoid and should be paired with a fat-containing meal for optimal absorption.

Regarding the recommended dose, most currently recommended doses of astaxanthin range from 4 mg to 12 mg per day, but the optimal dose should be determined based on the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. Please also follow the relevant instructions on the product label. instructions, or preferably consult your local pharmacist or doctor before use.

What Are The Astaxanthin Side Effects or Dangers?

Astaxanthin is a common antioxidant found in aquatic plants. It is a relatively safe health ingredient. According to a study (6 grams per day for 8 weeks), no significant side effects have been found, and no blood biochemical index (blood parameter) has been found obvious changes. Note 19

The reported side effects include increased frequency of defecation, stomach pain, etc.

May cause staining of excrement (due to the water-soluble natural pigment in astaxanthin), this phenomenon is harmless to the human body, as long as you drink more water or stop taking it, it will return to normal.

Safety precautions

      1. Do not use for pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and people with poor liver and kidney function (because the relevant safety is unknown)
      2. Patients with poor coagulation function and taking anticoagulants should not use them. If they are used together, they may increase the risk of bruising or bleeding (because astaxanthin may have anticoagulant effects). Related drugs include: Warfarin, 4 -hydroxycoumarin, Abciximab, Aceclofenac, Acemetacin, Acenocoumarol, Acetylsalicylic acid, Alclofenac, Aldesleukin
      3. People with diabetes or low blood sugar, and those taking drugs, herbs or supplements that affect blood sugar should not use it (because astaxanthin may lower blood sugar levels.)
      4. Patients taking blood pressure lowering drugs and herbs should be used with caution (because astaxanthin may lower blood pressure)
      5. Do not use with drugs or herbs that need to be metabolized by the liver cytochrome P450 enzyme system, which may affect the efficacy of the drug. Common related drugs include:
        Diazepam, Caffeine, Amitriptyline, Imipramine, Propranolol, Fluoxetine, Haloperidol, Morphine, β-blockers, Amitriptyline, Celecoxib, Diclofenac, ibuprofen, Warfarin, Acetaminophen, Lovastatin, Ketoconazole, Etoposide, Erythromycin, Corticosteroids, Vincristine, Fexofenadine, Cimetidine, Cisapride
      6. Do not use related hormone-regulating drugs, especially 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors (such as Propectin, Boscar, saw palmetto, etc.), because some studies suggest that astaxanthin may also has the effect of inhibiting 5-alpha reductase. (Note 20) In theory, possible side effects include: decreased libido, decreased semen volume, skin pigmentation, weight gain, depression, etc.
      7. For autoimmune disorders or immunosuppressants, please use it with caution, because astaxanthin may have an immune-boosting effect and theoretically may interfere with the effectiveness of treatment.
      8. Allergic reactions may occur. If you have been allergic to carotenoids or Haematococcus pluvialis, please avoid using it
      9. Patients with hypocalcemia, osteoporosis or parathyroid disorders should be used with caution, because astaxanthin may reduce serum calcium levels.

    Where to Buy the Most Recommended Astaxanthin Supplement Brands?

    In recent years, food safety issues in various countries have exploded. Therefore, European and American products with relatively strict quality control have become popular products.

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