Preliminary research conclusions suggest astaxanthin, a carotenoid formed in algae, has strong antioxidant properties to help protect against excessive oxidative damage (too much oxidation from excess free radicals).
Oxidation is caused by normal biological processes. In other words it’s a product of being alive. However, too much oxidation caused by intense exercise, poor diet, environmental pollutants, etc. is hard for the body to control. Oxidation and excess free radicals lead to cellular damage, inflammation, premature aging, and slower recovery from exercise.
Currently, the primary use of astaxanthin supplements is as an antioxidant because original research demonstrated that due to astaxanthin’s potent antioxidant activity, it may be beneficial in cardiovascular, immune, inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases.
Astaxanthin has been recently showing up in sports performance products since supplementation has been shown to increase endurance and reduce muscle damage. In one study, it was demonstrated that astaxanthin may modify muscle metabolism by its antioxidant properties and result in improved muscle performance and weight loss benefits.
Another study involving 1200 meter track athletes using astaxanthin demonstrated that a daily dose for 4 weeks resulted in the accumulation of lower levels of lactic acid, which theoretically delays fatigue.
Astaxanthin degrades very quickly and is best taken live instead of a powder or pill. The bad fish smell from pills is the rotting of the very nutrients you desire. Aqua Health Labs has nurtured a micro-algae called PhytOriginal they sell LIVE, boosting large amounts of living astaxanthin in each cell. There are also several other companies claiming large amounts, but testing the levels is very difficult. Degradation begins immediately once the cell is killed so time is major factor. The more time it sits on a shelf – the more spoilage takes over – significantly reducing all the benefits.
All in all, astaxanthin looks safe and promising as an antioxidant and is be useful for stressed humans consuming less than perfect diets.