Astaxanthin – the power antioxidant from nature

16. January 2024 from Jutta Hannemann
Astaxanthin – the power antioxidant from nature

Astaxanthin is considered the strongest known natural antioxidant in the world. Antioxidants are vital substances that protect the body from harmful influences. Thanks to its cell-protecting properties, astaxanthin can have positive effects on the immune system, the cardiovascular system, the eyes, the skin, brain functions and cell ageing.

Astaxanthin - 100% naturally occurring antioxidant

Astaxanthin belongs to the group of carotenoids. As naturally occurring antioxidants, they give many fruits and vegetables their red, yellow or orange colour (Spectrum, 2023). Astaxanthin is a red colour pigment that is produced by microalgae such as blood rain algae. The blood rain algae, also known as Haematococcus pluvialis, is normally green in colour. When it is stressed, for example by strong sunlight, a lack of nutrients or water, it produces large quantities of astaxanthin. As a result, it changes colour from green to red and is protected from harmful influences. With the help of astaxanthin, it can survive for many weeks without nutrients or water (Windisch, 2021).

Astaxanthin protects the cells

Astaxanthin is considered to be one of the most powerful antioxidants found in nature. It is even described as the strongest antioxidant in the world. Its effectiveness dwarfs that of all known antioxidants. Studies have shown that it is 6,000 times more powerful than vitamin C and 100 times more powerful than vitamin E (Nishida, 2007).

Antioxidants protect the body from so-called "free radicals". These are produced during various metabolic processes in the body. On the other hand, they are also caused by harmful external influences such as cigarette smoke, UV radiation, environmental toxins or stress. Free radicals change the cells, can damage the genetic material and are involved in the ageing process (Doccheck Flexikon, 2023). If there are too many free radicals in the body, so-called "oxidative stress" occurs. Oxidative stress can cause damage to body cells. It presumably also plays a role in the development of various health problems (Doccheck Flexikon, 2023). It also causes the skin to age more quickly (Consumer advice centre, 2023). Antioxidants, on the other hand, are true miracle cures; they help the body fight free radicals by scavenging them and rendering them harmless. In doing so, they can protect the body's own cells from premature ageing.

Not all astaxanthin is the same

In addition to naturally obtained astaxanthin from microalgae, there is also synthetically produced astaxanthin. However, studies have shown that natural astaxanthin is far superior to synthetically produced astaxanthin. Its ability to neutralise free radicals is 20 times higher than that of synthetically produced astaxanthin (Capelli, 2013).

Astaxanthin - the all-rounder

Astaxanthin is a real powerhouse with a wide range of health benefits. It is a highly effective cell protector that supports the skin, eyes, cardiovascular system, immune system, muscles, ligaments and tendons as well as the brain and nervous system. These many different health effects are due to its protection against oxidative stress. As a powerful antioxidant, astaxanthin can prevent oxidative stress in the body (Donoso, 2021) and thus have an impact on various areas of the body.

1.     Astaxanthin protects the skin

As the human body's outer protective shield, the skin is constantly exposed to environmental influences such as UV radiation, heat, cold, environmental toxins and much more. As a result, it has to cope with a particularly high level of free radicals and oxidative stress. This damages the cells and ages the skin. Due to its antioxidant properties, astaxanthin can protect the skin from UV-induced damage (Ito, 2018; Donoso, 2021). It also improves the skin's moisture content and elasticity (Ito 2018; Zhou, 2021; Tominaga, 2012; Yamashita, 2006; Phetcharat, 2015). Clinical studies have shown that astaxanthin can demonstrably reduce the depth of wrinkles (Tominaga, 2012; Yamashita, 2006; Tominaga, 2017; Zhou, 2021; Phetcharat, 2015) and protect the skin against ageing processes (Zhou, 2021).

2.     Astaxanthin supports the immune system

Astaxanthin has a positive effect on the immune system. It supports this by increasing the number and activity of various immune cells. At the same time, it is able to reduce oxidative stress in the body (Park, 2010; Baralic, 2015).

3.     Astaxanthin - for muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints

Exercise can increase lactate levels in the muscles, which can cause fatigue and a burning sensation in the muscles. Astaxanthin can lower lactate levels and thus support muscle function (Sawaki, 2002; Wu, 2019).

Astaxanthin protects against the formation of free radicals during exercise and can therefore reduce muscle damage (Wu, 2019; Djordjevic, 2012). It can also improve muscle endurance, strength (Malmsten, 2009), flexibility (Baralic, 2015) and recovery after exercise.

Astaxanthin can also accelerate the improvement of symptoms caused by overuse during sport. One study showed that the symptoms of tennis elbow improved more quickly after taking astaxanthin (Spiller, 2006).

There is also initial promising evidence from animal studies suggesting that astaxanthin has a positive effect on joints (Sun, 2019; Kumar, 2020; Park, 2020).

4.     Astaxanthin supports cardiovascular health

Astaxanthin protects the heart in various ways: Astaxanthin is able to lower blood lipid levels. It also reduces bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases good cholesterol (HDL) in the blood (Yoshida, 2010). Studies also suggest that astaxanthin can lower blood pressure (Mashhadi, 2018).

5.     Astaxanthin helps to maintain vision

New studies assume that oxidative stress also plays a role in the development of vision problems (Donoso, 2021). Clinical studies show that astaxanthin improves blood circulation in the eye and is therefore important for maintaining vision (Donoso, 2021; Nagaki, 2005; Saito, 2012). In addition, astaxanthin can improve accommodation, i.e. the change between near and far vision of the eyes (Nagaki, 2002) and counteract eye fatigue (Sawaki, 2002).

6.     Astaxanthin - good for the brain

There is evidence that astaxanthin may be important for maintaining and supporting brain function. In one study, astaxanthin improved memory performance in people who complained of forgetfulness (Katagiri, 2012). In another study, astaxanthin was able to reduce the amount of toxins in the brain (Nakagawa, 2011).

Astaxanthin – the power vital substance

  • protects the skin
  • supports the immune system
  • for muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints
  • supports cardiovascular health
  • helps to maintain eyesight
  • good for the brain


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Jutta Hannemann

I am a freelance medical writer and count various companies in the health care industry among my clients. After studying ecotrophology at the Technical University of Munich, I first worked in the food industry for over 10 years before taking the step into self-employment in 2010. This allows me to optimally combine my interest in scientific contexts and my passion for scientific writing. My work focuses on all topics related to nutrition, health and well-being.