If you read some sources, then you may have seen claims that astaxanthin is the most powerful natural antioxidant currently recognized. That’s a pretty bold claim, and when you look at some of the other potential benefits of astaxanthin then it’s no surprise that it’s such a hot supplement on the market at the moment.
Astaxanthin comes from pink colored animals and that means salmon, lobster, shrimp, crabs and flamingos, and some people have credited the compound with the legendary stamina of the salmon. The reason it is found in these creatures is that it is a carotenoid that belongs to a class of phytochemicals known as terpenes which help to provide pigment – and it’s also used as a food coloring in cooking for this reason. Astaxanthin is not only a very powerful antioxidant but also is considered to be very beneficial for endurance and its anti-inflammatory properties. Finally it is also considered a great remedy for arthritis.
Here however we are going to look at the benefits of astaxanthin for the skin, and how it can help to prevent the visible signs of aging. It does this by providing the antioxidant properties which enables it to combat free radicals that could otherwise do damage to your skin.
How Do the Antioxidant Effects of Astaxanthin Work?
Basically astaxanthin is more effective than many other antioxidants at least theoretically because it can access more parts of the cell than other antioxidants getting into the inside and the outside and thereby combating antioxidants wherever they may reach. At the same time it is one of the antioxidants capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier and this means that it can affect the brain, eyes and nervous system too.
Part of the reason for this powerful effect is that astaxanthin is lipid soluble, and this partly allows it to adapt to the organism consuming it. However let’s not get too carried away, as it’s hard to say with any certainty what the most ‘powerful natural’ antioxidant is – and in many ways lycopenes have been shown to be more efficient antioxidants than carotenoids.
For the Skin
The job of antioxidants is then to combat the free radicals that exist within the human body. These normally react with the cell walls in the human system and this then causes the walls to slowly be broken down. Eventually free radicals can break all the way through the cell walls and damage the DNA which can cause cancer in some cases.
Before it gets to that point though you will find that the free radicals cause enough damage to the cell walls of the skin cells to make your skin visible look damaged and aged and this is what causes wrinkles, sun spots and other visible signs of aging. Furthermore, if the DNA is damaged this can cause mitosis to work less effectively making defective copies of cells as they spread and thus resulting in more damaged looking skin.
The anti-inflammatory effects of astaxanthin have also be purported to play a role in helping to prevent the visible signs of aging by protecting the skin from sun burn which can cause it to look aged prematurely.
Does it Work?
All this means that if you are going to take a single antioxidant supplement then this would be a fairly good bet (though resveratrol would possibly be better – look it up, as would some form of lycopenes). But will it really have a visible affect on the skin? The answer is sadly probably no – as you would have to consume it in incredibly vast quantities for it to have any visible effects, particularly as you probably also get a fair amount of antioxidants in your diet. Don’t believe the marketing hype, and while it certainly won’t help to add one good antioxidant supplement to your diet, only creams that are applied topically (and only very few of them) or surgical measures can create noticeable changes to the skin in the way that some people hope.