Many of my patients are on the lookout for anti-aging news and products that will help them stay younger-looking, stronger and healthier as they age. Perhaps you, too, are looking for the best anti-aging products and information you can find. Well, you’ve come to the right place, as anti-aging medicine is my specialty. I’d like to tell you about one of the best anti-aging substances out there – literally a “star” amongst antioxidants.
Astaxanthin – An Amazing Carotenoid
The Greek word “asta” means “star-like” and even has been translated as “love” itself. Xanthin means yellow in Greek and is a descriptive term given to the yellow, orange, red colored-carotenoid family of vegetables like carrots, red peppers, sweet potatoes, etc. Together they form the word astaxanthin and it pretty much describes the wonderful health benefits of this amazing antioxidant. It’s a “star” carotenoid nutrient that really loves your body inside and out with a miraculous list of health benefits that include the following:
- Protects your eyes and brain – crosses the blood-brain, and blood-retinal barrier which allows it to nourish brain and eye tissues – specifically preventing retinal damage.
- Reverses skin aging – fights oxidative damage in the surface as well as cellular level, reversing signs of aging like wrinkles, brown spots, dryness and sun damage by building collagen. Also acts as a natural sunscreen.
- Powerhouse anti-inflammatory – fights inflammation throughout the body which is now thought to be the precursor to many serious diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer.
- Strengthens muscles and joints – helps build connective tissues that improve function.
- Boosts physical endurance and stamina – supports “powerhouse” mitochondria creating more energy, speeding muscle repair.
- Boosts the immune system – neutralizes free radicals.
Where Does Astaxanthin Come From?
Astaxanthin has been research-proven [Antioxidant activities of astaxanthin and related carotenoids, Naguib YM.J, Agric Food Chem. 2000 Apr;48(4):1150-4] to be one of the most powerful antioxidants – rivaling Vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, green tea, COQ10 and even green tea. It occurs naturally in carotenoid-based foods like carrots, red peppers, and pretty much exclusively in a microalgae called H. pluvialis, which gives the reddish-pink color to the feathers of flamingos and the meat of wild salmon, crabs, shrimp, lobsters, and trout.
You may not eat flamingos to get their astaxanthin, but eating wild salmon, or other seafood listed here, once or twice a week along with carrots and red peppers is a good idea. In addition, natural-source derived supplements are a good way to get enough of this carotenoid. About 4 mg a day is good. Look for one that lists its source as the microalgae H. pluvialis that I noted above.
Astaxanthin is a GRAS (generally recognized as safe) substance by the FDA. However, if you take medications for a thyroid disorder, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma or osteoporosis or are on birth control pills – please check with your doctor, and/or pharmacist for possible drug interactions before taking. Pregnant women should not start any supplement – including astaxanthin – without their doctor’s advice. Generally, though, side effects from astaxanthin are negligible.
Fight Inflammation – Fight Aging and Disease
A few years ago, the effect of inflammation on physical health and aging was still an emerging field of medicine. Today in 2012, researchers are finding that inflammation is one of the most significant conditions in the human body for creating disease. If you want to avoid serious diseases like diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer, then you need to keep a watchful eye on your diet. Make sure you’re not eating foods that cause a lot of inflammation or high-acid foods. These include red meat, dairy, saturated fats, trans fats, corn and/or soybean oil, and refined sugars. You also want to ensure that you get enough major antioxidants like astaxanathin and others.
Aging is now actually considered a disease and inflammation is at the heart of it. Lack of sufficient antioxidants to combat free radicals in your blood stream cause your joints to ache and become stiff, your physical energy to decline, and your skin to breakdown and lose its color, tone and integrity.
To fight the disease of aging – the way it makes you look and feel – you have to fight free radicals and the inflammation they promote. Most Americans are sorely lacking in maintaining sufficient levels of antioxidants.
Be sure you get 6-8 servings a day of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables, like the astaxanthin-rich carotenoid foods mentioned above, as well as Vitamins C and E, selenium and Vitamin D3. Taking a daily supplement of astaxanthin – or a multivitamin/mineral formula that contains it – can also help you turn back the clock on aging and disease.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Natural Health News
Battling inflammation, disease, through food, http://articles.latimes.com/2009/aug/17/health/he-anti-inflammation17
Asta – Meaning, http://www.thinkbabynames.com/meaning/0/Asta
Astaxanthin Benefits, http://www.astaxanthinbenefits.net/
photo credit: can-eat.blogspot.com