If you’ve been watching the news lately, you may have heard about a powerful antioxidant called astaxanthin. Endorsed by such well-known health experts as Dr. Oz and Dr. Mercola, the claim is that one small pill taken daily can do more to reduce wrinkles and signs of skin aging than any cream, lotion or spa treatment could ever do.
Astaxanthin has also been hailed for its ability to boost stamina, reduce exercise recovery time, improve joint health, enhance brain function and provide a surge of youthful energy. But is there truth to these claims or is astaxanthin just the latest health fad?
Well, when it comes to neutralizing free radicals and oxidation within the body, astaxanthin is more effective and powerful than vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, lutein, green tea and even the almighty CoQ10.  However, the big question is, can the antioxidant qualities of astaxanthin help you look better, feel younger and live longer?
Let’s first discuss astaxanthin’s ability to revitalize your skin’s appearance since so many people take the wrong approach to maintaining the health of their skin as they age.
The cosmetics industry is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to toxin-laden products. Even if you don’t use skin creams, you probably use sunblock lotions, which can be just as toxic. These creams and lotions may provide short-term benefits, but they come with the risk of long-term health consequences.
There are natural skin creams and sunblock options out there, but it’s important to realize that your skin is your largest organ, and protecting its outermost layer is only a small part of the solution.
Why Skin Damage Is an ‘Inside Job’
The biggest threat to the health and appearance of your skin is damage by something called free radicals. These highly unstable oxygen molecules occur naturally, but factors such as exposure to toxins and poor dietary habits can increase their levels.
Left unchecked, free radicals can wreak havoc on cells throughout your body, leading to dangerously high levels of inflammation, accelerated aging and a multitude of health problems. The earliest signs of free radical damage show up on your skin, as it is especially vulnerable to oxidative stress and inflammation.
The good news is that your body has a built-in mechanism that utilizes antioxidants to neutralize free radicals. The bad news is that most of us are lacking the antioxidant firepower to get the job done.
Are You Critically Low in Antioxidants?
Despite growing awareness of the importance of antioxidants, experts say that nearly all Americans — even those of us who eat plenty of fruits and vegetables — lack what we need for optimal health. That’s because the fruits and vegetables we eat today are significantly lower in antioxidant nutrients than they were years ago due to soil depletion and hybridization.
Additionally, exposure to pollution and toxins, which creates more free radicals than our body was ever designed to process, has become an unavoidable part of life.
How Astaxanthin Heals Skin From the Inside Out
Wrinkles, brown spots, blemishes and dryness — there are many ways that skin damage can present itself. It turns out that astaxanthin may not only protect your skin from future damage, but can also reverse years of damage relatively quickly. This is due to its antioxidant properties, as well as its anti-inflammatory and immunity-enhancing characteristics.
One of the ways that astaxanthin works is by protecting the skin’s outermost layer against oxidative stress. This enhances cell repair and collagen production, thus increasing skin moisture, preventing and reducing wrinkles, and providing for firmer, more elastic skin. Astaxanthin can also suppress inflammation, which can help to reduce puffiness and irritation.
Overall, research is showing that astaxanthin is, in fact, one of the best supplements you can take to repair and heal your skin from the inside out, reverse years of damage and maintain a youthful appearance.
Astaxanthin as an Energy Booster
The incredible “youthening” effects of astaxanthin are not limited to skin health. It has also been shown to have a positive impact on mitochondria, the cellular energy centers that produce up to 95 percent of your energy, but as a byproduct, create lots of harmful free radicals. As a powerful antioxidant, astaxanthin neutralizes these free radicals, making mitochondrial function more efficient, which creates higher energy levels in your body.
Astaxanthin has also been found to improve strength and stamina, and to speed muscle recovery time after exercise. It has become popular among athletes for this reason, and if you exercise regularly, you may find that astaxanthin can greatly enhance your performance.
Total Body Health Benefits
It’s true that astaxanthin has been shown in the lab to be the most potent natural antioxidant yet discovered. But perhaps more important is how astaxanthin acts once it’s inside your body.
It’s unique in that, unlike many antioxidants, it can reach every cell in your body to provide system-wide benefits. For example, it is one of the few antioxidants that can cross the blood-brain barrier to protect your brain and nervous system and can cross the blood-retinal barrier to protect your eyes. Astaxanthin is especially active within joints and connective tissues and has a positive impact on virtually every single organ and system within your body.
Astaxanthin has been shown to:
- Reverse the signs of skin aging 
- Act as a powerful anti-inflammatory
- Enhance energy and stamina
- Support optimal joint and muscle function
- Boost immune system strength
- Protect the brain and eyes 
How to Take Advantage of Astaxanthin’s Benefits
While astaxanthin is part of a relatively well-known class of antioxidants called carotenoids, its benefits are just now being discovered due to its rare occurrence in nature. It turns out that astaxanthin is found almost exclusively in a type of microalgae known as H. Pluvialis, which only certain pink-hued creatures, such as salmon and flamingos, consume.
To get clinically beneficial amounts of astaxanthin, you’d have to eat a minimum of 6 ounces of wild salmon every day. (Farm-raised salmon is very low in natural astaxanthin and can be dangerous to your health.) This would not only be difficult, inconvenient and expensive, but most experts do not recommend eating seafood daily due to potential contamination. This is why an astaxanthin supplement is your best bet.
3 Tips for Choosing the Best Astaxanthin Supplement
When shopping for an astaxanthin supplement, there are three indispensable tips:
1. Make sure the bottle says “natural astaxanthin,” ideally from the marine algae species H. Pluvialis. Avoid synthetic astaxanthin as it can have less than half the antioxidant potency.
2. You need to take 4 milligrams per day. Anything less and you won’t be getting clinically beneficial amounts.
3. Don’t pay more than $25 for a one-month supply. Many companies are taking advantage of the hype surrounding astaxanthin and charging more than double this amount.
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