What is Astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant which belongs to the carotenoid family, the same group that includes lutein and beta-carotene. Carotenoids are natural and functional pigments which have antioxidant properties.  Astaxanthin is found naturally in algae, yeast, salmon, trout, krill, shrimp and crayfish,  it is what gives these organisms and their predators, such as flamingos, their distinctive pink or reddish colour.
In recent years there has been increasing interest in astaxanthin as a supplement, as it can offer a range of health benefits. Astaxanthin benefits range from protecting skin from UV damage to enhancing physical performance and even supporting cardiovascular and cognitive functions. It is important to understand the health benefits of astaxanthin to help people make an informed choice about whether to incorporate this antioxidant into their health regimes.
The Science behind Astaxanthin
Astaxanthin’s unique chemical structure comprised of conjugated double bonds and polar end groups, makes it an exceptionally potent antioxidant. At the cellular level, astaxanthin exerts its effects by neutralising reactive oxygen species (ROS) and other free radicals, thereby protecting cells from oxidative damage that can lead to ageing and various diseases.  Unlike other carotenoids, astaxanthin has the ability to span the entire lipid bilayer of cells, providing comprehensive protection against oxidative stress.
Unlike some antioxidants that become pro-oxidant under certain conditions, astaxanthin remains stable and continues to offer antioxidative benefits, making it a reliable and robust option for combating oxidative stress. It is more potent than most known antioxidants, according to the following ratios: 6000 times more powerful than vitamin C; 550 times stronger than vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol); and 40 times more powerful than beta-carotene. 
It comes in two main forms: natural and synthetic. The natural form comes from organic sources and is more bioavailable, the synthetic version is produced chemically and is used in industry applications. The natural type has higher antioxidant activity, higher bioavailability and a broader range of health benefits.
Astaxanthin benefits include many advantages for the skin, from protecting against sun damage to preventing fine lines and wrinkles. It protects against ultraviolet (UV) damage from the sun’s rays, by neutralising free radicals generated by UV exposure, thereby minimising the damage and reducing the signs of skin ageing and skin cancer. 
Its anti-inflammatory properties can reduce wrinkles and fine lines by inhibiting the release of inflammatory cytokines and mediators. It improves skin elasticity, maintains skin moisture, and reduces the appearance of age spots and hyperpigmentation. It also helps maintain skin moisture levels resulting in a smoother and more hydrated skin complexion. 
In addition, astaxanthin promotes the production of collagen in the skin, a crucial protein responsible for maintaining skin’s strength and elasticity. It thereby helps in maintaining the integrity of the skin structure and delays the onset of wrinkles.
Another astaxanthin benefit is its positive impact on eye health, due to its unique molecular structure, potent antioxidant properties, and ability to cross the blood-retina barrier.
Astaxanthin’s antioxidant properties protect the eyes from oxidative damage, especially in the sensitive photoreceptor cells in the retina. It neutralises oxidative stress and combats free radical damage which can otherwise lead to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. Also, its ability to enhance blood flow to the retinal capillaries contributes to maintaining optimal ocular health, reducing the risk of ischemia and related complications in the eye. 
Studies suggest that astaxanthin may alleviate eye fatigue and strain, particularly related to extended screen time, by improving blood flow to the retina and reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in the eye tissues. 
Astaxanthin reduces inflammation, a key contributor to atherosclerosis (hardening or narrowing of the arteries). By modulating inflammatory responses, it helps in preventing the formation of arterial plaque, thereby reducing the risk of heart diseases.
The potent antioxidant capabilities of astaxanthin protect the cardiovascular system from oxidative stress, a crucial factor in the development of heart diseases. It neutralises free radicals that can damage blood vessels and lead to heart conditions like coronary artery disease.
Studies have suggested that astaxanthin can improve lipid profiles by reducing levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol ("bad cholesterol") and increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol ("good cholesterol"), thus contributing to the maintenance of arterial health. 
Immune System Support
Astaxanthin benefits also include enhancing the body’s immune response by stimulating the production and activity of immune cells like lymphocytes. It can modulate the immune system, fostering improved defence mechanisms against infections and diseases. By neutralising free radicals and reducing oxidative stress, astaxanthin helps in preserving the integrity and functionality of immune cells, thus keeping the immune system robust and responsive to pathogens.
Chronic inflammation can suppress the immune system. Astaxanthin’s anti-inflammatory properties help in reducing inflammation, allowing the immune system to function optimally and respond effectively to health threats. 
The brain is particularly vulnerable to oxidative stress due to its high oxygen consumption. Astaxanthin neutralises the damaging effects of oxidative stress in brain tissues, thus preserving neuronal integrity and function.
Astaxanthin modulates the inflammatory responses within the central nervous system. By reducing neuroinflammation, it supports cognitive health and may lower the risk of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Astaxanthin has been shown to enhance blood flow to the brain - improved cerebral blood flow ensures optimal oxygen and nutrient delivery to brain cells, supporting cognitive function and reducing the risk of cognitive decline.
Astaxanthin can speed up recovery post-exercise by reducing muscle damage and inflammation, thereby reducing muscle soreness and helping athletes to bounce back more quickly after strenuous activities. It has been shown to boost endurance and reduce fatigue, allowing athletes to train more effectively and sustain higher levels of physical activity for extended periods.  Astaxanthin promotes the efficient utilisation of fatty acids for energy production during exercise, potentially enhancing stamina and reducing energy depletion in muscles.
How to Incorporate Astaxanthin into your diet
Incorporating astaxanthin into your diet can be achieved through both natural food sources and dietary supplements. Fish and seafood provide a great source of astaxanthin for example, salmon (particularly wild caught), shrimp, trout and red sea bream. Consuming these foods with a healthy fat source, like avocados or olive oil, can enhance absorption as astaxanthin is fat soluble.
Microalgae and Krill Oil (obtained from Krill) are also excellent sources of Astaxanthin and can be consumed directly.
Natural Astaxanthin supplements, derived from microalgae or Krill are preferable and are most effective. Love Life Supplements offer a high-quality Krill Oil. This 100% pure oil is sourced and extracted from Antarctic krill, which are tiny crustaceans similar to shrimp. It is sustainably sourced by Aker BioMarine™. 
Synthetic Astaxanthin is also available in supplement form, but it is chemically synthesised and may not provide the same health benefits or effectiveness.
Dosage and Formulation
It is important to read supplement labels properly and choose a supplement that clearly states the source of astaxanthin. Look for non-GMO labels and check for purity and absence of fillers and additives. LLS Krill Oil is a supplement which meets all these criteria.
It is important to follow dosage instructions on the label and consult with a healthcare provider or a qualified health professional to determine the appropriate dosage for you.
While astaxanthin can be a valuable addition to your wellness routine, it should be part of a balanced diet complemented by a healthy lifestyle.
In summary, astaxanthin stands out as a highly potent antioxidant with a myriad of health benefits. Astaxanthin benefits range from enhancing skin and eye health, boosting the immune system and supporting cognitive function, to improving cardiovascular health and enhancing athletic performance. In short, it is important for supporting overall health and well-being.
Astaxanthin can be consumed through natural sources like salmon, shrimp, and other seafood, complemented, if desired or required, by high-quality, natural supplements. It’s essential to ensure that any supplements chosen are of the highest quality, derived from reputable sources.
Astaxanthin’s unique antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, coupled with its diverse benefits, certainly render it a worthwhile addition to any health regime.