Astaxanthin is a carotenoid that has tremendous benefits for your health. Although it is a carotenoid, it does not act in the same way as beta-carotene. Astaxanthin is not converted to Vitamin A in your body. It is responsible for the red pigment of many marine animals such as shrimp and salmon.
What are best the sources of astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin is primarily found in the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis. This microalga is the richest source of astaxanthin in nature and is the source most used by manufacturers to make commercially available supplements. Haematococcus pluvialis is consumed by animals such as shrimp, lobster, salmon, flamingoes and krill and is responsible for giving them their rich colors.
Manufacturers produce astaxanthin from Haematococcus pluvialis because, apart from the fact that it has the highest concentration of the nutrient, it reproduces very quickly and is therefore commercially viable. It multiplies fast by doubling its mass every week.
Over 40g of astaxanthin can be produced from 1 kg of Haematococcus pluvialis. Astaxanthin must be produced carefully so that it can maintain its stability. It is usually grown outdoors in a tropical setting and the best manufacturers produce it in a remote facility in an area that is free of pollution.
Practically all seafood that has a reddish pinkish hue contains astaxanthin. The highest seafood source is salmon, especially wild sockeye salmon. In salmon astaxanthin is concentrated mainly in the muscles. This is what gives salmon the stamina to swim long distances upstream without stopping. One hundred grams of sockeye salmon yield up to 4.5 mg of astaxanthin.
Be sure to eat only wild caught salmon since farm-raised salmon contains only a fraction of the astaxanthin found in the wild one. Wild salmon can contain up to nine times the astaxanthin of farm-raised salmon.
Farm-raised salmon is fed synthetic astaxanthin which is made from petrochemicals. This may contain chemicals that are not good for your health. Moreover, the natural astaxanthin that salmon consume in the wild is many times more potent than the synthetic kind.
Krill is a small, shrimp-like organism that belongs to the family of crustaceans. They are found in oceans all over the world. The oil from krill is considered one of the best sources of healthy omega-3 oils. Krill oil also contains astaxanthin. Krill consume the microalgae that contain astaxanthin and of course, when you consume krill oil you get the benefit of the astaxanthin.
Krill have incredible stamina for their size. Also, they are known for their longevity in the wild and experts have attributed much of that longevity to the krill’s high concentration of astaxanthin.
Other types of crustaceans including shrimp, lobster and crabs contain astaxanthin. It is the compound that is responsible for giving them their color. When you consume a diet rich in seafood, you are able to introduce astaxanthin into your diet.
Supplementation With Astaxanthin
Although seafood contains astaxanthin, you cannot just rely on your diet of seafood to give you an adequate supply. Relying solely on food as a source of astaxanthin means you would have to consume very large quantities of seafood. This is neither practical nor cost effective. Moreover, with the level of contamination in the earth’s oceans and the warnings from government about mercury and other toxic materials in seafood, you want to carefully watch your intake.
This is why supplementation of astaxanthin from a reliable source is the best way to ensure that you are getting enough into your diet. The most effective supplementation source is the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis.
Follow the astaxanthin dosage guidelines of the manufacturers carefully and as always, consult your healthcare practitioner before starting any supplement, especially if you have health conditions.