axanta ingredients facts
What is Astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin (pronounced “asta–zan-thin”), is part of the carotenoid family, an organic pigment found in algae (Haematococcus Pluvialis), bacteria and plants. Carotenoids are what gives flowers, fruit and vegetables their vibrant colours. Carotenoids act as a natural antioxidant for the body, and of the 700 antioxidants discovered so far, Astaxanthin has proven to be the most potent.
When fighting free radicals, Astaxanthin is designed entirely to protect all parts of the cell. When it acts as an antioxidant, it positions itself across the entire cell membrane, attaching itself to both the exterior, interior and lipid layer, offering complete protection for each cell. This translates to protection on the outside of the cell from free radicals, the inside of the cell where the free radicals are being generated, and also the lipid layer prone to oxidation.
Astaxanthin separates itself from most other antioxidants to be the best. It controls many free radicals at a time compared to other antioxidants like Vitamin C or Vitamin E that control just one. Astaxanthin forms an electron cloud around the molecule, so when free radicals come by to steal electrons, they are absorbed into the cloud and neutralised.
Another unique quality of Astaxanthin is its ability to handle multiple types of free radicals. Whether it be an oxygen free radical, a nitric oxide free radical or a peroxyl free radical, certain antioxidants can only handle one kind of free radical. However, Astaxanthin has no problem dealing with them all.
Not only does it work against many free radicals, but unlike most other antioxidants Astaxanthin does not become a harmful pro-oxidant when exhausted. When some antioxidants such as Vitamin C and E are exhausted, they become negative pro-oxidants and cause oxidation in the body.
Did you know… Flamingos are born with white feathers, but as they eat an abundance of krill and shrimp in their diet their feathers gradually turn pink over time
Astaxanthin is an antioxidant. So what is an Oxidant?
Oxidants are a standard byproduct of our metabolism and can cause damage to our body. We can see oxidation every day when an apple turns brown, or food goes rancid when it is left out. Oxidation is when oxygen reacts with cells. In our body, we have cells dying all of the time and sometimes these dead cells become what are called free radicals. Free radicals can cause damage to other healthy cells which in turn can cause disease.
Free radical damage from oxidation can cause numerous health problems including:
- Premature aging
- Autoimmune diseases
- Heart disease and cardiovascular disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Damage DNA
- Diseases caused by inflammation
Other than oxygen reacting normally with our cells, free radicals are also caused by smoking, pollution or smog, stress, radiation and chemicals in our foods. Antioxidants protect us from free radicals caused by oxidisation.
Antioxidants mainly come from the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals in vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, herbs, whole grains and some types of fish. This is why the government tells us to eat at least five servings or 2 1⁄2 cups of fruits and vegetables per day. Most people do not eat even one serving per day.
We hear the word antioxidant, but we might not know precisely what these antioxidants are.
Here is a list of well known antioxidants:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Flavonoids, of which there are at least 6,000 types that we get from plant foods.
- Carotenoids that include beta-Carotene, alpha-Carotene are also known as provitamin A
- Lycopene which comes from tomatoes and watermelons. Lycopene gives these and other food their red colour
Scientists know that antioxidants can prevent many of the health problems facing us today. Consumers can get confused because recent studies with vitamin E and vitamin C have been contradicting. Studies show that Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Do you wonder what the benefits of Astaxanthin are?
Super Food vs. Astaxanthin (ORAC – Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity)
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Anti-inflammatory drugs have earned a bad reputation as drugs with a long list of harmful side effects. In some severe cases, they are necessary. But to battle chronic inflammation, natural anti-inflammatories like Astaxanthin are a much safer long term solution. While some drugs will target single inflammation mediators, Astaxanthin will affect a broad range in a gentler, less concentrated manner, without the adverse side effects. An antioxidant with this kind of power can have a positive impact on human health; more studies are regularly being published about this incredible nutrient.
A few words about inflammation:
Inflammation is necessary and an important biological process that allows us to survive. It’s our body’s response to fighting infection and repairing damaged tissue. However, persistent inflammation can be extremely harmful. Most people experience low levels of inflammation without realising it, originating from anything such as smoking, high dietary sugar, trans fats, stress, or lack of exercise. Compared to some anti-inflammatory drugs, Astaxanthin targets inflammation throughout the body without the potentially harmful side effects of many drugs. Whether you have mild overuse soreness or a major inflammatory illness, Astaxanthin’s anti-inflammatory properties will benefit anyone.
Five signs of inflammation are:
- Loss of Function
In most cases, when there is inflammation, there is oxidative stress. By decreasing inflammation, Astaxanthin can help prevent, and treat, many problems that result directly from inflammation.
A 2007 study analysed several popular antioxidants and their antioxidant power (1). This study found Astaxanthin was 6,000 times stronger than vitamin C, 800 times stronger than CoQ10, 550 times more potent than green tea catechins and 75 times stronger than alpha lipoic acid.
Another study carried out over a six-week period highlights the improvements from Astaxanthin on five skin conditions (skin dryness, moisture content, roughness, elasticity and fine lines/wrinkles) as determined by the self-assessment of 49 middle aged women (2). Over fifty percent of the subjects in the treated group had a subjective improvement in all five conditions.
- Helps protect the skin against UV radiation from sunlight (although it should not replace a sunscreen)
- Helps improve the overall condition of the skin by improving the appearance of fine wrinkles, elasticity and moisture content
- Supports healthy skin ageing through antioxidant properties
- Reduces the risk of skin cancer
- Natural sun protection
- Astaxanthin with collagen
The carotenoid family, usually found in yellow, orange and red fruit and vegetables, are powerful antioxidants that can help combat these signs of ageing by neutralising harmful free radicals. Another member of the carotenoid family gaining popularity is the fat-soluble super antioxidant Astaxanthin, found naturally occurring in algae (Haematococcus Pluvialis) off the coast of Hawaii.
Astaxanthin is one of Mother Nature’s super antioxidants. Crustaceans such as Krill and Shrimp as well as Salmon can attribute their deep pinkish-red colouring to the presence of Astaxanthin. As these creatures eat the algae, and they are exposed to the sun, they react by turning their outer shell or flesh red in colour, which offers them protection from harmful UV damage. (3,4)
As we age, many of us experience pain in our joints. Often this pain is a result of inflammation in the joint. Astaxanthin has been shown to help with a range of universal joint and tendon pain with its ability to reduce inflammation, resulting in less pain and better mobility. In one study, more than 80 percent of arthritis suffers improved with Astaxanthin.
- Tennis Elbow
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Post-exercise joint soreness
A study by the Health Research and Studies Center involved giving tennis elbow sufferers an eight-week course of Astaxanthin. The treatment group showed a 93 percent improvement in grip strength, as well as decreased pain. The same study also found the severity of pain and the duration of Carpal tunnel syndrome with the supplementation of Astaxanthin reduced significantly. The Journal of the American College of Nutrition published a study that found after eight weeks, rheumatoid arthritis sufferers experienced a 35% improvement in pain levels along with a 40% improvement in their ability to perform daily tasks. One Astaxanthin trial by The Human Performance Laboratories at the University of Memphis looked at post exercise knee soreness in healthy young males. They found the placebo group had knee pain lasting up to 48 hours after the workouts compared to the group on Astaxanthin experiencing no increase in knee soreness after workouts.
As one of the most efficient natural anti-inflammatories, Astaxanthin can enhance athletic ability. By lowering inflammation, one could experience a reduction in joint and muscle soreness after exercise, along with an increase in endurance and faster recovery. Most of our mitochondrial cells are found in muscle tissue for energy production. By producing energy in the muscles when exercising, we make free radicals resulting in cellular damage, inflammation and sore muscles. The harder the exercise the more free radicals we produce.
- Neutralising free radicals in energy producing mitochondrial cells
- Decreasing oxidative damage to your cell membranes and DNA
- Reducing muscle inflammation [link]
- Reduces production and storage of lactic acid which reduces muscle soreness and recovery time
- Improving visual acuity
- Boost muscle performance [link]
- Effect of astaxanthin on cycling time trial performance [link]
- Astaxanthin In Sports Nutrition [link]
Astaxanthin has been shown to display anti-cancer properties [link] in animal studies. As Astaxanthin is not commonly found in a human diet, information on the extent of its benefits to people’s health is limited but growing. As a powerful antioxidant, Astaxanthin can inhibit the growth of cancer cells by lowering free radical-induced cellular damage, reducing inflammation and boosting an immune response. A handful of studies has shown Astaxanthin protected mice and rats from cancers by improving their anti-tumor response and a significant inhibitory effect on cancer.
Astaxanthin exhibits positive effects against cancer by:
- Preventing cancerous growth in cells that evade immune detection by reducing inflammatory changes
- Preventing cancer [link] developing by protecting DNA from oxidative damage
- Blocking cell replication of tumours in their growth phase by stopping the cancer cells reproductive cycle
- Enhancing the gap junctions and cell to cell communication
The ageing immune system [link] gradually loses its ability to produce protective antibodies against invading organisms. The ageing immune system also has the propensity to produce harmful autoimmune reactions. Astaxanthin boosts antibody production in response to invading microbes. Astaxanthin also favourably modifies the way various immune system cells respond in the face of an attack, which has the potential to make infections both less likely and less severe. Human studies demonstrate enhanced immune responses in humans supplemented with Astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin could be beneficial for heart health by preventing oxidation of cholesterol and reducing inflammation. Oxidative stress and inflammation are involved in atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Astaxanthin can help improve blood lipid profiles by decreasing LDL and triglycerides, and by increasing HDL. Astaxanthin also can lower blood pressure and increase plaque stability in the arteries.
Astaxanthin can help with:
- Heart attacks
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Cardiovascular disease
Eye Health. Our retina is an oxygen and light-rich environment demanding a large number of free radical scavengers to prevent oxidative damage. Astaxanthin easily crosses into the tissues of the eye, mopping up free radicals and reducing inflammation safely, with more potency than any other carotenoid and without any harmful reactions.
Astaxanthin can help with:
- Age-related Macular Degeneration
- Eye fatigue and soreness
- Loss of visual sharpness
- Diabetic Neuropathy
- Cystoid Macular Edema
- Dry and irritated eyes
- Eye Accomodation
Epidemiological studies have shown diets high in carotenoids are associated with a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. After studies on many carotenoids and their ability to protect the retina, none have managed to work as well as Astaxanthin does. As a free radical scavenger, with the capacity to pass through the blood-retina barrier, Astaxanthin has outperformed all other carotenoids as the winner when it comes to protecting your eyes.
Enhanced Cognition and Memory. Astaxanthin is becoming known in scientific circles as a strong candidate for brain food, with the potential for slowing or stopping chronic neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Astaxanthin protects neurones by preventing oxidative damage and quenching free radicals that injure brain cells in these conditions. Additionally, it works by blocking the inflammation and excitatory neurotransmitter release that further contribute to those neurodegenerative diseases. Astaxanthin also modifies gene expression, upregulating genes for natural antioxidant systems while downregulating those for inflammatory cytokines; this has been shown to help prevent brain cell death induced by the amyloid-beta. A recent human study found that Astaxanthin reduces the accumulation of a toxic dementia-related metabolite in the red blood cells of healthy older adults.
Astaxanthin’s potent antioxidant properties also make it protective against acute ischemia-reperfusion injury to the brain following a stroke. It also mitigates the most chronic damage caused by sustained low level impairments in blood flow such as those seen in microinfarct dementia. Both animal and human studies indicate that these effects translate into improved memory and information processing capacity in ageing brains.
The clinical importance of Astaxanthin’s multitargeted immune-modulating effects is clearly evident in the ways that Astaxanthin fights off the bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). About half the world’s population is infected with this pathogen, which produces a spectrum of stomach disorders ranging from chronic gastritis and ulcers to gastric cancer. Astaxanthin mitigates the inflammation associated with H. pylori infection of the stomach. Astaxanthin has proven its efficacy in reducing symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux (heartburn, or GERD), especially in people with H. pylori infections.
(1) Nishida Y. et. al, Quenching Activities of Common Hydrophilic and Lipophilic Antioxidants against Singlet Oxygen Using Chemiluminescence Detection System. Carotenoid Science 11:16-20 (2007)
(2) Yamashita. E (2006). “The Effects of a Dietary Supplement Containing: Astaxanthin on Skin Condition”. Japanese Society for Carotenoid Research, Volume 10.
(3) Guerin M, Huntley ME, Olaizola M (2003). “Haematococcus astaxanthin: applications for human health and nutrition” (PDF). Trends Biotechnol. 21 (5): 210–6. doi: 10.1016/S0167-7799(03)00078-7. PMID 12727382.
(4) Lennikov A, Nobuyoshi K, Risa Fukase (2012). “Amelioration of ultraviolet-induced photokeratitis in mice treated with astaxanthin eye drops” (PDF). Mollecular Vision.18: 455–64. PMID 3291518.
(5) Guerin, Martin, Mark E. Huntley, and Miguel Olaizola. „Haematococcus astaxanthin: applications for human health and nutrition.TRENDS in Biotechnology 21.5 (2003): 210-216.
(6) Katagiri, Mikiyuki, et al. „Effects of astaxanthin-rich Haematococcus pluvialis extract on cognitive function: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.”Journal of clinical biochemistry and nutrition 51.2 (2012): 102
(7) Nakagawa, Kiyotaka, et al. „Antioxidant effect of astaxanthin on phospholipid peroxidation in human erythrocytes.”British Journal of Nutrition 105.11 (2011): 1563-1571.
(8) Liu, Xuebo, and Toshihiko Osawa. „Astaxanthin protects neuronal cells against oxidative damage and is a potent candidate for brain food.” (2009): 129-135. (2009): 129-135.
(9) Kidd, Parris. „Astaxanthin, cell membrane nutrient with diverse clinical benefits and anti-aging potential.” Altern Med Rev 16.4 (2011): 355-64..
(10) Parisi, Vincenzo, et al. „Carotenoids and antioxidants in age-related maculopathy italian study: multifocal electroretinogram modifications after 1 year.” Ophthalmology115.2 (2008): 324-333.
(11) Martin, H. D., et al. „Chemistry of carotenoid oxidation and free radical reactions.” Pure and applied chemistry 71.12 (1999): 2253-2262.
(12) Tominaga, Kumi, et al. „Cosmetic benefits of astaxanthin on humans subjects.” Acta Biochimica Polonica 59.1 (2012): 43.
Piperine is an extract derived from black pepper – Piper Nigrum L and long pepper – Piper longum L.
Piperine is what gives peppers their spicy taste. This extract is marketed as a nutritional supplement and has been found to increase the absorption of a variety of nutrients.
Though some of the benefits of Piperine have yet to be firmly established, it may also have immune-suppressing, tumor-inhibiting and antidepressant effects. While Piperine is probably safe to use, some concerns have been raised regarding its potentially dangerous, enhancing effect on certain drugs. As with starting any new treatments, consult your doctor first.
Absorption of Nutrients
The most established effect of piperine is its effect on absorption of nutrients from the intestine. This effect is known as „bio-enhancement.” According to an article published in the „Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine” in 2010, piperine has been shown to dramatically increase the absorption of vitamin C, selenium, beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin B6 and coenzyme Q. The article goes on to suggest that piperine may be useful for people who suffer from conditions that cause malabsorption of nutrients and individuals suffering from malnutrition. The mechanisms by which piperine increases the absorption may involve increased gastrointestinal blood supply, postulated thermogenic properties and the increase in bioenergetic processes.
While the primary immune system function is to eradicate foreign invaders, it can sometimes malfunction. A faulty immune reaction causes a variety of diseases. Piperine has been shown to decrease the activity of this inflammatory response. The findings from a study published in the „European Journal of Pharmacology” in 2010 suggest that piperine may reduce the communication of lymphocytes in the immune system, thereby slowing down their action. Piperine has been shown to be beneficial in gout, a disease characterised by a strong immune response against uric acid crystals. A study published in „Inflammation” in 2011 provided evidence that piperine blocked uric acid crystals from forming and that it could be used as a treatment for gout.
Some evidence suggests that piperine may have some anticancer properties. Publication in „Clinical Laboratory Science” in 2008, for example, suggests that piperine inhibits the growth of colon cancer cells grown in a lab. The exact mechanisms by which the supplement prevents cancer are unknown, and whether this anticancer effect is useful outside of the laboratory remains to be proven.
Stress Management Support
Piperine increases the production of adrenaline and other catecholamines, which could make it useful for managing temporary stress. This use of Piperine is often combined with Vitamin C.
Weight Management Support
Piperine may have thermogenic properties that increase the body’s basal metabolic rate. These properties may be useful in helping you to maintain a healthy weight.
Vital nutrients that piperine may make easier to assimilate include beta-carotene, curcumin, selenium and vitamins C and B6. It may also enhance the assimilation of amino acids.
Piperine may have some antidepressant activity as well, though this has not yet been firmly established. A trial of piperine on rats found that the animals provided evidence that the supplement had antidepressant and cognitive enhancing effects. These findings were published in „Food and Chemical Toxicology” in 2008.
Another study published in „Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior” in 2009 found that piperine increased the neurotransmission of serotonin and dopamine, two chemicals that are often deficient in depressed individuals. Clinical trials testing the supplement are needed to verify whether these benefits transfer to people.
Potential Side Effects
Piperine is considered safe, although significant questions regarding its side effects and interactions remain to be answered. According to the „Journal of Food Safety,” Piperine is usually safe to consume as it does not cause any significant alterations in blood tests. One potential adverse effect of piperine is that it may enhance the absorption of medical drugs, bringing them to dangerous levels in the bloodstream. For this reason, the supplement should not be administered at the same time as any medications. Piperine may inhibit the liver metabolism of drugs as well, which may also raise drug levels. Again, when starting any new treatments, consult your doctor first.