If you are an athlete in any competitive sense or if you exercise just a few times a week, you may be supplementing your training regimen with things like protein powders, amino acids, and omega oils. These supplements are great for upping your athletic game, but if you’re not including astaxanthin amongst your daily supplement arsenal, you are missing out on what many of the world’s top athletes call their, “Secret Weapon.”
What is astaxanthin?
While relatively new in the supplement category, astaxanthin has been gaining recognition over the past ten years due to its potent antioxidant strength. Astaxanthin is a carotenoid, like beta carotene or lutein, and is the red pigment found in nature. It’s found in animals such as salmon, shrimp, and lobsters but its most abundantly found in a fresh water algae called Haematococcus pluvialis. While certain foods like salmon naturally contain astaxanthin from algae they eat in the wild, you’d need to eat several pounds of salmon to get an adequate astaxanthin dosage on a daily basis. Therefore, the most efficient and cost effective way to incorporate astaxanthin into your daily life is by taking an algae extract supplement. Dosages range from 4 milligrams to 12 milligrams per day.
Natural astaxanthin is unique among other antioxidants because of the shape of its molecule – it’s both water and fat soluble which protects the entire cell from damage. The benefits natural astaxanthin can provide to the human body are comprehensive, including fighting free radicals1, supporting skin health2, eye3 and brain4 health, cardiovascular health5, improved athletic performance, and helping the body recover from intense exercise. The improved athletic performance as well as faster recovery from exercise, is what excites athletes as they strive to perform at their very best.
Astaxanthin – the athlete’s supplement
Energy production in the body starts in our cells, which rely on the mitochondria, the generators or powerhouses found within our cells that produce energy. Mitochondria break down carbohydrates and fatty acids to generate energy.6 Your body needs millions of mitochondria running at full capacity because the better they perform, the better you will feel. There are several ways that you can help your mitochondria perform better, such as calorie restriction, getting a good night’s sleep, and minimizing inflammation and free radicals. Taking astaxanthin will also help. Research has shown astaxanthin provides anti-inflammatory and antioxidant support after strenous exercise to the mitochondria7, resulting in better mitochondria performance which can result in better physical performance.
Exercise results in physical fatigue of the body and requires down time to recover. But what if there was a way to increase the time it took to feel fatigued and speed up recovery time after exercise? A study was conducted to test just this –healthy volunteers using progressively heavier loads in a stepwise exercise were tested with astaxanthin supplementation versus a placebo. Results showed that supplementation with astaxanthin improved metabolism (always a plus!) and respiratory-circulatory ability, plus anti-fatigue and antioxidant levels in the body were increased.8 Another study with soccer players proved that astaxanthin reduced muscle damage and protected the function of cells during heavy exercise.9 With these two studies alone, you can see why astaxanthin is very valuable to an athlete, but the research continues with more amazing findings.
Astaxanthin has been shown to improve athletic performance by increasing physical strength – and who wouldn’t want that? In this study, participants were given astaxanthin for six months and then had their strength tested on a Smith machine. Amazingly, the results showed that taking astaxanthin improved performance threefold!10 Another study involving competitive cyclists found that taking astaxanthin resulted in an average of 15% increase in power output and contributed to making the cyclists faster and stronger.11
Astaxanthin can also support our muscles. A common issue with intense exercise is that it leads to lactic acid build up in the muscles, resulting in cramping. Astaxanthin can help decrease lactic acid build up in the muscles12 and allows athletes to push harder and faster for longer.
End result? Add astaxanthin to your daily regimen
You don’t need to be an extreme athlete to benefit from taking astaxanthin, but the science is solid in supporting astaxanthin and improved athlete performance. For all of the reasons discussed, athletes that want better performance should definitely be taking natural astaxanthin on a daily basis.
There are many choices when it comes to astaxanthin supplements, so do your research before adding a new supplement to your diet. We recommend astaxanthin from Hawaii.
Science proves it - natural astaxanthin is a safe performance boosting supplement that will give you a competitive edge against the rest of the pack.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns about your health. Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Never disregard or delay seeking medical advice because of something you have heard or read in this article or the internet.
2. Tominaga, K., et al. (2017). Protective Effects of Astaxanthin on Skin Deterioration. J. Clin. Biochem. Nutr. Published online: 20 June 2017. (https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jcbn/61/1/61_17-35/_pdf)
3. Sawaki, K., et al. (2002). Sports performance benefits from taking natural astaxanthin characterized by visual acuity and muscle fatigue improvement in humans. Journal of Clinical Therapeutics & Medicines. Vol. 18, No. 9, pp. 1085-1100. (http://www.cis.edu.rs/wp-content/uploads/kurs/XVIII-predavanje/reference/Sport-performance-benefits-from-taking-natural-astaxantin.pdf)
4. Satoh, A., et al. (2009). Preliminary clinical evaluation of toxicity and efficacy of a new astaxanthin-rich Haematococcus pluvialis extract. Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition. Vol. 44, No. 3, pp 280-284. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2675019/)
5. Iwamoto, T., et al. (2000). Inhibition of low-density lipoprotein oxidation by astaxanthin. Journal of Atherosclerosis Thrombosis, Vol. 7, No. 44, pp. 216-222. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11521685)
6. Vidyasagar, A. (2015, April 30). What Are Mitochondria? Live Science. Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/50679-mitochondria.html
7. Fry, A. (2001). Astaxanthin clinical trial for delayed onset muscle soreness. Human Performance Laboratories. The University of Memphis. Report 1, August 16, 2001.
8. Nagata, A., et al. (2003). Effects of astaxanthin on recovery from whole fatigue with three stepwise exercises. Hiro to Kyuyo no Kagaku 2003 Vol. 18;No. 1;Pages 35-46. (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5765334_Astaxanthin_improves_muscle_
9. Djordjevic, B., et al. (2002). Effect of astaxanthin supplementation on muscle damage and oxidative stress markers in elite young soccer players. J Sports Med Phys Fitness, 52(4):382-92. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22828460)
11. Malmsten, C., et al. (1998). Dietary supplementation with astaxanthin-rich algal meal improves muscle endurance – A double blind placebo controlled study on male students. Carotenoid Science, Vol. 13; 2008. (https://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/dockets/95s0316/95s-0316-rpt0274-31-Malmsten-vol210.pdf)
12. Earnest, CP., et al. (2011). Effect of astaxanthin on cycling time trial performance. International Journal of Sports Medicine 2011 Nov;32(11):882-8. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21984399)
13. Sawaki, K., et al. (2002). Sports performance benefits from taking natural astaxanthin characterized by visual acuity and muscle fatigue improvement in humans. Journal of Clinical Therapeutics & Medicines 2002 Vol. 18; No.9; Pages 1085-1100.