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Astaxanthin (Haematococcus pluvialis) 2% CWS

What is Astaxanthin?

Astaxanthin is an abundant molecule found in a variety of marine wildlife, including a type of green algae called Haematococcus pluvialis. Astaxanthin belongs to a family of molecules called carotenoids. These molecules cause the red or pink colours of various seafoods.

Astaxanthin has become a popular health supplement due to its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Astaxanthin derived from Haematococcus pluvialis is the only U.S Food and Drug Administration approved source for human consumption. This source also offers the highest concentration of astaxanthin, making it a great candidate for dietary supplements.

Researchers first took an interest in this antioxidant powerhouse because of its ability to support eye-health. Alike other carotenoids which can be found in foods like carrots, research suggests that astaxanthin can support and protect vision.

However, the benefits of astaxanthin stretch beyond eye-health. The compound has also been demonstrated to support skin, joint and brain health.

Astaxanthin appears to have body-wide benefits.

In particular, astaxanthin offers power antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects which can help with inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. The molecule has also been shown to potentially increase athletic performance by boosting energy. Some studies suggest that people who supplement with astaxanthin can complete timed work-outs faster.

Astaxanthin has become of great interest to neuroscientists due to its potential nootropic effects. The unique and small structure of astaxanthin means it can cross the blood-brain barrier, where it’s thought to be capable of safeguarding neurons and other brains cells from age-related decline.

Brain Benefits and Mode of Action

  • Improves Memory and Fights Neurodegeneration

Neurodegenerative disorders are common amongst the older population. This includes conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Oxidative stress caused by harmful free radicals is a biological hallmark of these condition. In fact, increased oxidative stress is associated with a number of psychiatric disorders too, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

As is the case with many nootropic agents, astaxanthin confers a powerful and highly-potent antioxidant. The molecule can help alleviate oxidative damage in the brain and protect neurons. Subsequently, this offers protection from a variety of age-associated conditions. This includes forgetfulness and memory problems, along with more serious conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzhiemer’s disease.

These protective effects have been supported by a growing number of clinical trials.

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, participants reporting heightened forgetfulness were supplemented with either placebo or 6- 12mg of astaxanthin (from Haematococcus pluvialis algae) for 6 weeks. The results were impressive. The astaxanthin group saw improvements in a variety of cognitive functions as demonstrated by improved scores on the multiple validated testing scales.

Another human study tested levels of antioxidants in people with dementia. They showed that regular astaxanthin supplementation increased levels of antioxidant-related molecules in blood samples, compared to placebo treatment.

Mode of action: Recent research in adult models demonstrate that astaxanthin may increase levels of a critical neuronal growth factor called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). BDNF is well-known to support neurogenesis, synaptogenesis and support neuronal health. BDNF has also been shown to be protective against oxidative damage.

How to Use

Astaxanthin is typically derived from Haematococcus pluvialis and comes in softgel, capsule format. Some research suggests that combining astaxanthin with fats such as coconut or olive oil can increase absorption and effectiveness.

Astaxanthin is generally safe for most people when taken orally. Studies which have used a 12mg daily does for up to 6 months have shown no adverse effective to participant health. It has also been shown to be safely combined with other vitamins, minerals and carotenoids.

Some minor, non-harmful side effects may include increased bowel movements and a red stool colour.

Recommended Dosage 12mg

We recommend a 12mg dose to obtain the greatest nootropic benefits of astaxanthin. This dose has been shown to be effective in a number of scientific studies.

Classification: Memory, Protection

We’ve classified astaxanthin as a potent protector of brain health. We’ve also classified astaxanthin as a memory enhancer, due to its ability to enhance BDNF activity and prevent forgetfulness. Research suggests that this powerful pigment can protect brain health into old age and may improve memory and mental sharpness.


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  2. Yousry M. A. Naguib. Antioxidant Activities of Astaxanthin and Related Carotenoids. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2000 48 (4), 1150-1154 DOI: 10.1021/jf991106k

  3. Nakagawa K et al. Amyloid β-induced erythrocytic damage and its attenuation by carotenoids. FEBS Lett. 2011 Apr 20;585(8):1249-54.

  4. Teo, I.T., Chui, C.H., Tang, J.C., Lau, F.Y., Cheng, G.Y., Wong, R.S. ... Ho, K.P. (2005). Antiproliferation and induction of cell death of Phaffia rhodozyma (Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous) extract fermented by brewer malt waste on breast cancer cells. International Journal of Molecular Medicine, 16, 931-936.

  5. Liu X and Osawa T. Astaxanthin protects neuronal cells against oxidative damage and is a potent candidate for brain food. Forum Nutr. 2009;61:129-35.

  6. Liu X et al. Astaxanthin inhibits reactive oxygen species-mediated cellular toxicity in dopaminergic SH-SY5Y cells via mitochondria-targeted protective mechanism. Brain Res. 2009 Feb 13;1254:18-27. 

  7. Wu W et al. Astaxanthin alleviates brain aging in rats by attenuating oxidative stress and increasing BDNF levels. Food Funct., 2014, 5, 158-166. 

  8. Katagiri M et al. Effects of astaxanthin-rich Haematococcus pluvialis extract on cognitive function: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2012 Sep;51(2):102-7.