What is astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin is a dark red carotenoid primarily present in Salmon, Trout, Krill, Shrimp, etc. The microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis is the richest natural source of astaxanthin and has enabled recent commercial production.
1.1 WHY IS ASTAXANTHIN SO IMPORTANT?
It beats all alternatives hands-down
Astaxanthin is one of the most powerful lipophilic antioxidants discovered so far. It has the unique capacity to fight free radicals as well as reactive species of oxygen and to inhibit lipid peroxidation.
Studies have shown natural astaxanthin to be over 500 times stronger than vitamin E. It is much more potent than other carotenoids such as lutein, lycopene, and beta-carotene. Moreover, astaxanthin has a unique molecule structure. It does not convert to vitamin A (retinol) and has no “pro-oxidant” activity.
1.2 HOW DOES ASTAXANTHIN WORK?
It powers up every single cell in your body
The astaxanthin molecule has an extended shape, with a polar structure at either end of the molecule and a nonpolar zone in the middle. This polar-nonpolar-polar layout allows the astaxanthin molecule to take a transmembrane orientation, making a precise fitment into the polar-nonpolar-polar span of the cell membrane.
Astaxanthin provides cell membranes the ability to defend against free radical or other oxidative attacks and benefits every single cell in your body.
1.3 WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS?
There are obvious effects which you can feel
Due to its strong antioxidant properties and the unique molecular structure, the effects are clearly visible. There are hundreds of studies conducted on the effectiveness and health benefits of astaxanthin. These studies include cellular experiments, animal tests, and human subject clinical trials. In our experience, the most well studied and proven health benefits include skin health, vision improvement, cardiovascular support, and immune system enhancement.
Top 3 Health Benefits with Clinical Studies
THE BITTER TRUTH
Don't get fooled by the name
There is no doubt that astaxanthin is truly amazing for human health and many companies are using its name to commercialize their products. Keep in mind, there are only a few countries that can produce natural astaxanthin at a commercial scale. Be extra cautious when shopping for astaxanthin products.
2.1 SYNTHETIC SOURCES
Watch out for synthetic astaxanthin
Synthetic astaxanthin represents over 95% of the market and costs only one-fourth of natural astaxanthin’s However, it has a different molecular profile and has not been studied on humans. Therefore, the aforementioned health benefits are restricted to natural astaxanthin only and virtually all of those come from commercial cultures of the single-celled alga Haematococcus pluvialis. In fact, only natural astaxanthin from H.pluvialis is allowed by Health Canada and the FDA for human consumption.
2.2 DOSAGE MATTERS
Krill oil vs. Algal astaxanthin
Talking about the health benefits of an ingredient without considering the dosage is false advertising.
Customers looking for astaxanthin supplements often encounter krill oil which claims to have astaxanthin in it. Other than the difference in molecule profiles, krill oil supplements contain only 250-500 mcg (0.25-0.5 mg) of astaxanthin per capsule. To ensure a recommended dosage of 12 mg per day, you need to consume 24-48 capsules of krill oil capsules. Only then can you expect to reap the health benefits of astaxanthin shown in clinical trials.
2.3 THE GREAT WALL
Eating whole algae doesn't work
Some supplement companies source astaxanthin from H.pluvialis ( better than krill oil or any other source ) but they put the whole algae in the formulation which is a wasteful exercise.
Unlike spirulina and chlorella, H.pluvialis is a special microalgae strain that will change the structure of the cell wall while accumulating astaxanthin in the cell. This super-strong cell wall changes everything. Experimental data has shown: 1. Without cell wall disruption, only ~20% of astaxanthin is accessible. 2. Using acid that has 10X more H+ than your gastric acid for 30 mins, ~40% of astaxanthin is accessible.
All in all, the direct consumption of whole H.p cells doesn't work as effectively. Therefore, it is not surprising that people who try whole algae supplements with such "Astaxanthin" do not feel any difference at all.
2.4 THIRD PARTY VERIFICATIONS
Look for NAXA certificate
It is definitely not reasonable to ask regular customers to verify the source of astaxanthin. Don't worry! There is an NGO called Natural Algae Astaxanthin Association (NAXA) that helps customers to verify astaxanthin sources. Look for this icon when you want to shop for genuine astaxanthin products.
2.5 PROCESSED WITH CARE
Not all astaxanthin is equal
Even if astaxanthin is made from H.p cells, it may not be the best quality. It is important that the manufacturer applies the highest standards at every step.
Every step in the process - strain selection, biomass cultivation, cell-wall disruption, astaxanthin extraction or product manufacturing is crucial to the quality of the final product. For instance, microalgae grown in a closed-tubular reactor tends to have fewer contaminants (bacteria and fungus) compared to those in raceway ponds. Astaxanthin extracted using supercritical CO2 tends to have fewer impurities (pesticides and heavy metals) and organic solvent residues compared to those from alcohol extractions.
We are the Icon for Astaxanthin
Iconthin is committed to the development of high-quality algae products through innovative research and technology breakthrough, leading to improvement in human health.
Given below are researches we have conducted to improve the quality of astaxanthin products, one step at a time.
3.1 HYDROTHERMAL DISRUPTION
We break cells better
We demonstrated a hydrothermal method of astaxanthin extraction from wet biomass. It uses a high temperature and high-pressure microfluidic platform.
Haematococcus pluvialis cysts are trapped within the device and visualized in situ during the cell wall disruption and astaxanthin extraction processes.
Hydrothermal disruption at a temperature of 200 °C was shown to be highly effective, resulting in near-complete astaxanthin extraction from wet biomass – a significant improvement over traditional methods.
3.2 SUPERCRITICAL CO2 EXTRACTION
We use green extraction
This study demonstrated the efficacy of low-pressure supercritical CO2 extraction of astaxanthin from disrupted Haematococcus pluvialis. Astaxanthin extraction using ScCO2 achieved 92% recovery at 55 °C and 8 MPa applied over 15 h. Notably, for the ethanol case, the timescales of the extraction process are reduced 1800-fold from 15 h to 30 s at 55 °C and 8 MPa, representing the fastest complete astaxanthin extraction at such low pressures.
3.3 FROM ONE CELL TO ANOTHER
We are obsessed with top quality
All in all, astaxanthin is sensitive to light, temperature, and heat. In order to achieve the best performance of astaxanthin, formulation, technology, transportation and processing precautions need to be taken throughout the manufacturing process. At this moment, there is no standard for it. The onus is on us.