The quest for flawless, youthful-looking skin has sent many people on a largely unsuccessful scavenger hunt for a “miracle” antiaging cream. Unfortunately, many skin lotions leave your wallet empty while falling short of delivering there promised effects. Truly beautiful skin is achieved from the inside out and astaxanthin is a supplement backed by scientific evidence, that can help to enhance the overall appearance of your skin.
What is Astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin is a nutrient that is found in a type of marine microalgae called Haematococcus pluvialis. Sea animals such as salmon, trout, shrimp and lobster consume these algae; consequently, eating these sea animals will provide you with a natural source of astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is also manufactured and sold in concentrated form as a nutritional supplement for a variety of health promoting purposes, one of which is the attainment of healthy looking skin.[i]
How Astaxanthin Promotes Skin Health
Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant that helps to neutralize free radicals in your body. This is important because free radicals accelerate the aging process by attacking and destroying your cells and DNA. A study published in the April 2000 edition of “Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry,” found that the antioxidant activity of astaxanthin is far more powerful than the renowned antioxidant nutrients beta-carotene, lutein and lycopene.[ii] In addition, astaxanthin has been found to be 65 times more powerful than vitamin C and 14 times more potent than vitamin E.[iii] Astaxanthin also demonstrates potent anti-inflammatory properties and may therefore be beneficial for acne sufferers, since acne is an inflammatory disorder of the skin.[iv]
Scientifically Proven Benefits
Scientific studies which were done in Japan and Canada examined the antiaging effects of astaxanthin. The Japan study was four weeks long and conducted in 2002 by Yamashita. The subjects consumed 2 mg of astaxanthin daily and they experienced an improvement in skin health after just two weeks. At the end of the study, a smoother skin surface with fewer fine lines, enhanced skin tone and elasticity, reduced eye puffiness, fewer freckles and increased moisture levels were noted on all of the participants.[v]
The Canadian study was twelve weeks long and conducted on females between the age of thirty-five and sixty. The participants were given a supplement formulation that contained astaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids and marine glycosaminoglycans. Similar to the Japan study, all of the women experienced enhaned skin health. Specifically, the woman taking the astaxanthin formulation experienced a notable increase in skin hydration and skin elasticity, and a slight improvement in overall skin tone.
The Synergesitc Effect of Combining Astaxanthin with a Topical Anti-aging Cream
The Canadian study also examined the effects of combining the astanxthin supplement formulation with the daily application of a skin cream containing glycosaminoglycans as its active ingredient. The combination appeared to have a synergistic effect and it produced dramatic results. The women reported:
- 48% reduction in fine lines
- 35% reduction in wrinkles
- 45% reduction in brown spots
- 45% enhancement of overall skin tone
- 59% increase in overall quality of the skin.[vi]
Astaxanthin as “Nature’s Sunscreen”
Sun damage is the leading cause of premature skin aging and astaxanthin can slow the formation of new wrinkles by working as an internal sunscreen. Dr.Mercola explains on his website, that astaxanthin is produced by the Haematoccous pluvialis microaglage in order to protect itself from ultraviolet radiation when its water supply dries up. The protective effect of astaxanthin extends to humans as well, and it protects you from the damaging effects of sunlight in three ways:
- Radiation from the sun damages the collagen in your skin. Collagen is a fibrous protein found naturally in your body and a reduction of it leads to reduced skin elasticity and consequently the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. Taking astaxanthin regularly can help to reduce the damage to the collagen in your skin that results from exposure to UVA and UVB light.[vii]
- According to cosmeticsdesign-europe.com, astaxanthin also appears to strengthen and protect the fibroblasts in your skin. Fibroblasts are skin cells that act as a defense system, providing your skin with strength and resilence. When your skin is exposed to the sun, the formation of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) occurs and a build-up of ROS results in damage to your skin cells. By enhancing the strenght of the fibroblasts, astaxanthin helps to both prevent the formation of ROS and to mop them up once they have been created. [viii]
- Sunburn is a result of excessive exposure to the sun or inadequate sun protection. Sunburns cause irreversible damage to your skin and accelerate skin aging. According to Dr. Mercola, sunburn is a result of an inflammatory process. Due to astaxanthins potent anti-inflammatory properties, taking it regularly can help to protect your skin from developing a sunburn.
How to take Astaxanthin
There is no standard recommended dose of astaxanthin; however the Japanese study used 2 mg daily. Astaxanthin is fat-soluble which means that it needs to be taken along with a healthy source of fat in order to be properly absorbed by your body. There are currently no reported toxic side-effects or drug interactions from astaxanthin supplements, however it is always best to consult with your healthcare practitioner before taking any new nutritional supplement.[ix]
[v] “Cosmetic Benefit of Dietary Supplements Containing Astaxanthin and Tocotrienol on Human Skin.” Food Style. 21 6(6):112-17]
June 14th, 2011
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