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Astaxanthin To Fight Oxidative Stress

By Cassandra Forsythe-Pribanic, PhD, RD

Cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis; what do all of these horrible and deadly conditions have in common?

Oxidative stress

That’s right: You’ve probably heard this word tossed around, but perhaps you aren’t really sure what it is.

Oxidative stress is an imbalance in your body cells caused by a predominance of damaging reactive oxygen species (ROS) compared to restorative, disease-fighting antioxidants.

This imbalance can happen from low antioxidant supply in the body either from low dietary intake or poor distribution; or from a high amount of ROS form from environmental or physiological causes.

Basically, our body needs to have the right amount of antioxidants to balance out the ROS that are formed every day, just from living in the world we now live.

It’s been found that being overweight or obese, which many Americans are today, is a major player in the oxidative stress cascade that leads to poor health and fast aging. As such, managing body weight through good dietary choices and consistent exercise is very important.

However, many people have a very hard time taking control of their body weight for various reasons, and still carry more body fat than they should no matter how hard they try to get rid of it. So, in order to reduce their levels of oxidative stress, there must still be something they can do.

Thankfully there is.

Astaxanthin Research Against Oxidative Stress

Recently, South Korean scientists conducted an investigation looking at the effects of two doses of Astaxanthin (the powerful red-colored antioxidant found in krill oil), on the levels of oxidative stress in overweight and obese men and women.

For three weeks, 23 men and women were given either 5 mg or 20 mg of astaxanthin per day in capsule form. They took
this each day with breakfast and they were asked to follow their normal dietary and physical activity routines.

After three weeks, it was found that blood concentrations of astaxanthin increased significantly in both groups, with those taking 20 mg increasing the most – this showed that the subjects were compliant with the protocol.

More importantly, it was shown that blood levels of two important ROS, MDA - Malondialdehyde (which is a compound produced during the composition of a lipid hydroperoxide), and Isoprostane (which is produced during free-radical mediated peroxidation of lipoproteins) were significantly decreased in both groups of subjects. What was most interesting, was that the effects of the 5 mg dose of astaxanthin, was just the same as the 20 mg dose.

Also measured were levels of two powerful antioxidant parameters: Superoxide Dismutase (SOD), which is an antioxidant enzyme, and Total Antioxidant Capacity (TAC), which refers to a full spectrum of antioxidant activity.

After the three weeks of supplementation, levels of SOD and TAC were both significantly increased, indicating increased antioxidant defense, with no differences between the supplemental groups.

Astaxanthin to the Rescue

What this study tells us is that if you have increased oxidative stress, due to a little more belly flab than you should have, or other environmental stressors, like pesticides, pollution, or other dangerous chemicals in our food, water or personal hygiene products, then astaxanthin, which is found at a high dose in krill oil, can help keep you fight off these dangerous free-radicals and stay disease free.

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Choi H et al, Effects of Astaxanthin on Oxidative Stress in Overweight and Obese Adults. Phyto Res. 2011.