Astaxanthin is one of the most powerful antioxidants found in nature. The highest concentration of this substance is found in single-cell microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis, which has been recognised as the environmentally best source of extracting the purest and most effective astaxanthin. These algae produce large amounts of astaxanthin for self-preservation purposes to protect their cell DNA in the battle with huge oxidative stress from UV radiation and free radicals. Astaxanthin is also found in marine inhabitants (wild salmon, trout, krill, shrimp, lobster and crab) that have free access to feed on these microalgae. This is the pigment responsible for the reddish colour of the abovementioned crustaceans and fish.
Astaxanthin is a carotenoid and is closely related to all known beta-carotenes and lutein. As a carotenoid astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant. It protects cells from damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals. However, unlike other carotenoids, which under certain conditions can themselves trigger free radical activity, astaxanthin is a completely pure antioxidant – it only protects and never acts as a pro-oxidant.
Astaxanthin provides powerful natural protection against the harm caused by free radicals – so-called oxidative stress. It is the most powerful free radical scavenger of all anti-aging molecules; it is 65 times stronger than vitamin C, 14 times stronger than vitamin E, 54 times stronger than beta-carotene, 20-50 times stronger than synthetic astaxanthin1
1. OXYGEN FREE RADICAL SCAVENGING ABILITIES OF VITAMINS C, E, b-CAROTENE, PYCNOGENOL, GRAPE SEED PROANTHOCYANIDIN EXTRACT AND ASTAXANTHINS IN VITRO. Debasis Bagchi, Ph.D. Pharmacy Sciences, Creighton University School of Health Sciences, June 2001