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Astaxanthin: Endurance-Boosting Antioxidant

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Astaxanthin: Endurance-Boosting Antioxidant

What if you could increase your strength and stamina, decrease your post-exertion recovery time and decrease soreness after physical activity?

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

There just happens to be a natural compound that clinical studies are proving helps do just that—without a big price tag and without side effects.

It’s a little-known carotenoid called astaxanthin, which is now believed to be the most potent antioxidant nature has to offer.

Scientists long ago discovered that a class of naturally occurring pigments called carotenoids held powerful antioxidant properties that are crucial for your health. Carotenoids are the compounds in your foods that give you that vibrant cornucopia of color—from green grasses to red beets, to the spectacular yellows and oranges of your bell peppers.

There are more than 700 naturally occurring carotenoids, but most people are familiar with only a few. Right now, you probably have about 10 different carotenoids circulating through your bloodstream.  The most well-known is beta-carotene.

Only recently has astaxanthin jumped to the front of the line in terms of its status as a “supernutrient,” becoming the focus of a large and growing number of peer-reviewed scientific studies.

One of the benefits of astaxanthin that has piqued the interest of researchers is its ability to enhance athletic performance. Whether you are an elite athlete or just interested in increasing your tolerance for yard work, this carotenoid can help.

Astaxanthin’s benefits to your health do not stop there—in fact, so many benefits that I’ve had to write several articles just to cover the jaw-dropping activities of this amazing nutrient. Many carotenoids are easily obtainable through a good diet rich in fresh organic produce. However, this powerful carotenoid is harder to come by.

Natural Astaxanthin Is In a League of Its Own

Natural astaxanthin is produced only by the microalgae Haematoccous pluvialis when its water supply dries up, forcing it to protect itself from ultraviolet radiation. It’s the algae’s survival mechanism—astaxanthin serves as a “force field” to protect the algae from lack of nutrition and/or intense sunlight.

There are only two main sources of natural astaxanthin—the microalgae that produce it, and the sea creatures that consume the algae (such as salmon, shellfish, and krill).

Synthetic (laboratory-made) astaxanthin is now commonly used worldwide to supplement fish feeds in order to obtain the desired pinkish to orange-red color. You really should avoid synthetic astaxanthin because it’s made from petrochemicals.

Astaxanthin is the main reason salmon have the strength and endurance to swim up rivers and waterfalls for days on end—their diets are high in this pigment, which concentrates in their muscles and makes them one of the “kings of endurance” of the animal kingdom. This pigment is the most commonly occurring red carotenoid in marine and aquatic animals and is what gives salmon their characteristic pink color.

Astaxanthin is far more potent than beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol, lycopene and lutein, other members of its chemical family. It exhibits very strong free radical scavenging activity and protects your cells, organs and body tissues from oxidative damage.

Astaxanthin‘s unique “antioxidative artillery” provides for an impressive array of health benefits, including improving cardiovascular health, stabilizing blood sugar, boosting your immune system, fighting cancer, reducing inflammation, improving eye health—and even helping protect you from sunburn.

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Dr. Mercola

Dr. Mercola has been passionate about health and technology for most of his life. As a doctor of osteopathic medicine, he treated many thousands of patients for over 20 years. In the mid 90’s he integrated his passion for natural health with modern technology via the internet and developed a website, to spread the word about natural ways to achieve optimal health.


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4:12AM PST on Jan 12, 2014


4:11AM PST on Jan 12, 2014

Thank you for this

4:05AM PDT on Oct 23, 2011

"But even if you are successful in purchasing genuine wild salmon, there is the problem with high levels of mercury and other unwanted toxins."
And that says it what's on the menu?

4:36AM PDT on Sep 13, 2011

I found that the synthetic astaxanthin contains two extra stereoisomers but the natural material has only one. Hence it is only a matter of isolation of the required stereoisomer. However the other isomers in the synthetic material are not found to be toxic.

Before recommending the krill oil, it is important to consider the dwindling population of the krills due to commercial exploitation. Hence it is all the more justified to use the synthetic astaxanthin.

3:54AM PDT on Sep 13, 2011


3:53AM PDT on Sep 13, 2011

I think you should check on recommending only natural astaxanthin and not the synthetic one just because it is made from petrochemicals. Most of the antibiotics and medicines are synthetic or semi-synthetic and come from petrochemicals.

Can you please tell specifically how only the natural ones are good for health and not the synthetic? According to me, both have the same chemical structure and the synthetic chemicals of high purity should work the same way as natural ones. Please do not mislead us by giving false information.

9:59PM PDT on Sep 12, 2011

Excellent, well-written article. Thank you Dr. Mercola.

8:33PM PDT on Sep 12, 2011


7:49PM PDT on Sep 12, 2011

Thanks for the info. :)

6:40PM PDT on Sep 12, 2011

Only a wish but maybe it would help CFS....

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Can always try something new.

poor. Check your boobs, get second opinions, trust your gut. read your biopsy reports yourself. See …

not for me, but TY for sharing


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