Astaxanthin is a naturally occurring carotenoid found in nature primarily in marine organisms such as microalgae, salmon, trout, krill, shrimp, crayfish, and crustaceans. The green microalga Haematococcus pluvialis is considered the richest source of astaxanthin. Other microalgae, such as Chlorella zofingiensis, Chlorococcum spp., and Botryococcus braunii, also contain astaxanthin. It may also be found in the feathers of birds, such as quail, flamingo, and storks, as well as in propolis, the resinous substance collected by bees. Carotenoids are well known for their therapeutic benefits in the aging process and various diseases, because of their antioxidant properties. Astaxanthin is a xanthophyll carotenoid like lutein, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthin, which do not convert to vitamin A. According to a review, carotenoids are of interest based on their beneficial mechanisms of action for cancers, cardiovascular disease, age-related macular degeneration, and cataract formation. Numerous studies support the use of astaxanthin as a potent antioxidant that may be beneficial in decreasing the risks of certain chronic diseases. It may also reduce oxidative stress in the nervous system, reducing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. Additionally, astaxanthin has well-documented anti-inflammatory and immune-stimulating effects. Human trials have been conducted in disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, dyspepsia (with or without Helicobacter pylori infection), hyperlipidemia, male infertility, and skin conditions, and regarding exercise capacity, muscle soreness, and transplants. However, results have been mixed, and more research is needed in these areas before any firm conclusions can be drawn.
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