• Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin: the secret of athletes to boost performances

Astaxanthin is a natural antioxidant present in certain microalgae, fish and even certain marine birds such as the Pink Flamingo! This molecule is beginning to attract a lot of attention, especially in the world of sports, for its ability to improve endurance performance and fat metabolism.

The benefits of astaxanthin for athletes

Performance, endurance, recovery

Astaxanthin is able to protect the outer layer of the cell from the inside and the surface unlike other known antioxidants, such as vitamin E or C, which do only one or the other. Diagram: eChlorial. Source: Food Ingredients First

Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant, its distinct chemical structure allowing it to protect the outer layer of our cells, both internally and on the surface. This versatile function may explain why astaxanthin’s antioxidant functions have been measured to be 5 to 100 times greater than other popular antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamin E, 800 times more potent than coenzyme Q10, and 6,000 times more potent than vitamin C (1).
Astaxanthin is also known to have anti-inflammatory properties, making it an ideal dietary supplement for athletes undergoing intense workouts. Studies also show that astaxanthin can improve muscle recovery after exercise and reduce joint pain.

Astaxanthin helps athletes improve fat metabolism

During exercise, the body has two main sources of fuel: carbohydrates and fat. When the duration of exercise exceeds 45-60 minutes and becomes more endurance based, a common cause of fatigue or weariness and reduced performance is the depletion of carbohydrate fuel stores in the body. Thus, if astaxanthin can help improve fat metabolism during exercise, it is plausible to suggest that it may also offer an endurance performance benefit by helping to maintain carbohydrate stores by using fat as an alternative fuel source.

Studies show that astaxanthin can increase the use of fat as an energy source during exercise, which can lead to improved performance, endurance and fat reduction.

Astaxanthin: a super fuel for our cells

Once consumed, whether from food or supplements, astaxanthin accumulates in the mitochondria of cells. It provides protection and contributes to the growth and functioning of the organelle. Commonly called the “powerhouse” of our cells, mitochondria are the place where the human body produces most of its energy. They play a very important role in the metabolism of fat. Astaxanthin is a valuable food supplement for athletes and its use makes sense in sports nutrition.

It should be noted that research is still in its infancy and that the results of some studies remain equivocal, particularly with regard to astaxanthin and its impact on fat metabolism in exercising humans. Thus, to enable the successful application of astaxanthin as a nutritional supplement for athletes, future research is of obvious importance to further explore the potential benefits and mechanisms of this powerful antioxidant.

Astaxanthin and skin and eye health

The benefits of astaxanthin are not limited to physical performance, this molecule is also beneficial for the skin and eyes. Astaxanthin is known to protect the skin from UV rays and free radicals, making it an ideal dietary supplement for athletes exposed to outdoor conditions. Studies also show that astaxanthin can protect the eyes from UV damage and improve vision.

How to consume astaxanthin?

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) suggests a daily consumption of 8 mg of astaxanthin to get its protective benefits. This is equivalent to consuming more than one kilogram of wild or farmed salmon per day. Although the diet approach is often recommended in sports nutrition, it is sometimes difficult to achieve optimal levels of astaxanthin consumption through diet alone. For this reason, it may be helpful to supplement with one or two astaxanthin capsules per day to reach recommended doses. It is important to choose products of natural origin, such as those derived from Haematococcus pluvialis, for maximum effectiveness.

Opinions on the use of astaxanthin for athletes

Opinions collected through consumer testimonies are quite unanimous as to its effectiveness: improvement of eye comfort (dryness), significant boost in tone, improvement of intestinal comfort as well as cognitive abilities, especially for seniors. All the testimonies collected are available in the section Opinions and testimonies on astaxanthin. No specific testimonial by sportsmen yet but if you wish to share your experience on this subject contact us via our form.

Sources

Dr. Brown, “Astaxanthin: A Comprehensive Review” (2017)
EFSA, “Scientific Opinion on the safety and efficacy of Astaxanthin” (2010)
“Astaxanthin: A Review of Its Biological Activities and Health Benefits” (2018)
“Astaxanthin: A Novel Lipid-Soluble Antioxidant” (2000)
“Astaxanthin, a carotenoid with potential in human health and nutrition” (2013)
Mayo Clinic. (2021). “Astaxanthin: Benefits, risks, and dosage.” Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-astaxanthin/art-20364185

(1) Effective inhibition of skin cancer, tyrosinase, and antioxidative properties by astaxanthin and astaxanthin esters from the green alga Haematococcus pluvialis.

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