Here’s why Astaxanthin is considered the most powerful antioxidant from Mother Nature
The role of antioxidants in supporting optimal health and wellness has been widely studied by modern researchers. In fact, cell culture, plant, animal and human studies have all demonstrated the need for a robust antioxidant defense system in order for living organisms to sustain life.
In plants, antioxidants play a crucial life-supporting role that makes them indispensable especially in the face of harsh environmental conditions. For instance, a 2008 study by Chinese researchers found that antioxidant enzymes give plants – in this case, cucumber – a certain amount of tolerance to salt stress. 
Salt stress is a major environmental stress that can disrupt plant growth and development.  The researchers reported that under high salt stress, cucumber plants adapt by increasing the activity of certain antioxidant enzymes, which scavenge free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules produced as part of a normal plant stress response. By mitigating the oxidative damage caused by free radicals, antioxidant enzymes help increase the salt tolerance of plants. 
Similarly in animals, antioxidants exert a protective effect that ensures survivability. For instance, in poultry, heat stress is a serious stressor that triggers oxidative stress and increases susceptibility to infections.  A study published in the journal Antioxidants found that boosting the antioxidant status of broiler chickens through supplementation not only improves the animals’ health, stress tolerance and meat quality, but also their immune response. 
In humans, antioxidants perform a similar defensive function. Toxic elements from the environment are a constant threat to human health. As in plants and animals, these environmental stressors trigger an overproduction of free radicals – an event that has been linked to premature aging and the development of serious health issues. 
Because many critical processes, such as breathing, digesting food and producing energy, generate free radicals as byproducts, the human body is equipped with an antioxidant defense system that deals with this internal threat. This system is composed of enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants that work together to protect healthy cells from oxidative damage. 
Enzymatic antioxidants are the major antioxidants found in your lungs, which need substantial protection from the free radical-generating substances present in the air that you breathe.  These antioxidants work either by stabilizing, degrading or inactivating free radicals via different chemical reactions. 
Non-enzymatic antioxidants, on the other hand, work either alone or in tandem with enzymatic antioxidants, as in the case with glutathione. The major soluble antioxidant in cells, glutathione acts as a cofactor to several detoxifying enzymes, such as glutathione peroxidase and glutathione-S-transferase. Cofactors help catalyze biochemical reactions and transformations. 
Apart from glutathione, which is actively produced by your cells, non-enzymatic antioxidants all come from external sources, specifically the foods and supplements that you consume. Vitamins C and E, and plant-derived antioxidants like polyphenols and carotenoids are all examples of non-enzymatic antioxidants that play a huge role in your body’s antioxidant defense system. 
Astaxanthin: The most powerful antioxidant carotenoid on the planet
Polyphenols and carotenoids are both secondary plant metabolites. These chemicals are not required for growth or reproduction but are produced by plants to gain a selective advantage.  Polyphenols are mostly involved in plant defense mechanisms, although some, like the anthocyanins in blueberries, also serve as plant pigments. 
Carotenoids, on the other hand, are produced as color attractants and hormone precursors. But thanks to their powerful antioxidant activities, these natural pigments also serve as photoprotectors – chemicals that protect plants from oxidative stress caused by excessive sunlight exposure. 
Many edible plants owe their rich yellow, red or orange color to carotenoids. In fact, fruits and vegetables provide the majority of carotenoids found in the human diet.  Some of the richest food sources of carotenoids are oranges, kale, cantaloupes, bell peppers, tomatoes, spinach and carrots. 
There are two types of carotenoids that you can get from foods: the oxygen-lacking carotenes and the oxygen-containing xanthophylls. Carotenes are usually found in red- or orange-colored foods, while xanthophylls are generally present in yellow-colored foods. Lycopene and the vitamin A precursors, alpha- and beta-carotene, are the most well-known examples of carotenes. Lutein, zeaxanthin and astaxanthin are the most popular xanthophylls.
Apart from plants, carotenoids also occur in certain microorganisms, such as photosynthetic bacteria, some yeasts and marine microalgae. These microbes produce the red carotenoid, astaxanthin, in response to environmental stresses, such as nutrient deprivation, high salinity or excessive exposure to sunlight. 
Astaxanthin was first discovered in 1938 when it was isolated from European lobsters. Its first commercial use was as a pigment for the flesh of farmed salmonids, which needed a boost to regain their characteristic red-orange color. Eventually, astaxanthin found other uses in other industries, such as in food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals. 
Today, the astaxanthin used in supplements and cosmetic products is derived from Haematococcus pluvialis, a freshwater microalga. This unicellular microorganism is the most efficient producer of natural astaxanthin, capable of synthesizing up to 5% dry weight within 3 to 5 days.  Not only is the astaxanthin produced by H. pluvialis highly potent and proven safe for humans, but it is also the easiest form of astaxanthin for our bodies to absorb and utilize. 
The natural astaxanthin produced by H. pluvialis also has an astonishingly high free radical scavenging capacity. Studies show that as an antioxidant, astaxanthin is 65 times more powerful than vitamin C, 54 times more powerful than beta carotene, 10 times more potent than lutein and zeaxanthin, and 100 times more effective than alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E).  This is why it is considered the most powerful antioxidant in nature.
Astaxanthin possesses an extraordinarily high antioxidant capacity because its production is triggered by extreme conditions. In commercial settings, astaxanthin formation is induced in H. pluvialis by exposing it to excessive light and high temperatures, limiting its nutrient supply and/or increasing the salinity of its environment. 
In nature, different strains of H. pluvialis are known to live in harsh environments, such as brackish water or on rocks on seashores, where it is directly exposed to the sun.  This is why astaxanthin needs to be more potent than most antioxidants in order to effectively protect against oxidative stress.
The benefits of astaxanthin
Besides having a higher antioxidant capacity, astaxanthin has other advantages over other carotenoids. For example, unlike alpha- and beta-carotene, astaxanthin cannot be converted into vitamin A inside the body, thanks to its unique chemical structure.  This allows it to freely exert its beneficial effects on different body parts and functions.
The chemical groups attached to it also give astaxanthin a significant advantage over other antioxidants. In a study published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, researchers explained that these polar end groups help astaxanthin neutralize free radicals more effectively. They also allow astaxanthin to insert itself in the lipid bilayers of cell membranes, a feat impossible for many antioxidants, that enables astaxanthin to better protect cells from oxidative damage. 
Here are some more remarkable things astaxanthin can do for you:
- It supports optimal brain function – The unique chemical properties of astaxanthin also contribute to its brain benefits. As reported by a study published in the journal Marine Drugs, astaxanthin can easily cross the blood-brain barrier, a specialized structure that supports the brain from potentially harmful substances present in the blood.  This allows astaxanthin to protect your brain cells from harmful free radicals. Oxidative damage caused by free radical accumulation can negatively impact brain function as well as your emotional well-being. 
- It supports optimal immune function – Besides your brain, your immune system also benefits from astaxanthin. According to a study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, astaxanthin can support your body’s normal production of white blood cells.  These immune cells are some of your body’s strongest defenders against external threats. 
- It supports healthy heart function – According to research, oxidative stress is linked to serious issues that affect the blood vessels in your heart.  But potent antioxidants like astaxanthin can help protect your blood vessels from oxidative damage.
- It supports healthy eye function – Similarly, astaxanthin can confer protective benefits to your eyes. According to studies, your eyes are one of the most susceptible organs to oxidative stress, thanks to their constant exposure to light, ultraviolet rays and all kinds of pollutants.  To support their healthy functions, you need to give your eyes ample protection from oxidative damage. Powerful antioxidants like astaxanthin can help you with that.
- It supports optimal joint health – Your eyes are not the only parts of your body prone to oxidative damage – your joints are major targets as well. According to a study published in the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, low antioxidant levels and oxidative stress can lead to joint problems that can limit your mobility.  This is why eating antioxidant-rich foods and taking supplements like astaxanthin are very important, especially for the elderly. Research shows that older adults have weaker antioxidant defenses because the activities of enzymatic antioxidants naturally decrease with age. 
- It supports natural endurance and healthy muscle recovery after exercise – Regular exercise is one of the keys to a healthy lifestyle. But strenuous activities can trigger an overproduction of free radicals that can damage many biomolecules, such as lipids and proteins. You can help protect these biomolecules and your muscles by supplementing with astaxanthin. According to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, astaxanthin not only deals with oxidative stress, but it can also support your body’s natural endurance and healthy muscle recovery. 
- It supports healthy, glowing skin – Research has found that many environmental threats, such as ultraviolet radiation, trigger oxidative stress, which can cause premature skin aging and impair your skin’s natural barrier function.  Fortunately, powerful antioxidants like astaxanthin can help protect your skin from these events. As an added bonus, astaxanthin can also help you maintain healthy, glowing skin by preventing free radicals from destroying collagen.  Collagen is the protein that keeps your skin smooth and firm.
Where to get the cleanest Astaxanthin supplements on the market
Eating brightly colored seafood, such as salmon, trout and shrimp, is one way to increase your astaxanthin intake. But according to studies, these foods can’t provide you with astaxanthin that your body can easily absorb. Only one natural source is known to produce highly bioavailable astaxanthin – the microalgae, Haematococcus pluvialis. Fortunately, astaxanthin derived from H. pluvialis is now available to us in the form of supplements.
If you’re looking for astaxanthin supplements that you can trust, here are two high-quality offerings from the Health Ranger Store. Health Ranger’s Hawaiian Astaxanthin Gel caps and Chief Originals Astaxanthin Softgels are two of the cleanest astaxanthin supplements on the market. Both derived from carefully cultivated H. pluvialis microalgae, our premium astaxanthin supplements provide a much more concentrated form of astaxanthin than any seafood. They are also a safer source of astaxanthin since seafood is often contaminated with mercury.
Health Ranger’s Hawaiian Astaxanthin Gel caps have one of the highest potency levels of astaxanthin per gel cap. They are recommended for athletes and people with active lifestyles who want to support optimal strength, endurance and stamina, as well as healthy muscle recovery after exercise. Sourced from fresh H. pluvialis microalgae grown in freshwater from the pristine regions of Hawaii, our Hawaiian astaxanthin gel caps are also lab verified for cleanliness and purity.
Chief Originals Astaxanthin Softgels deliver high-quality natural astaxanthin in a convenient softgel form. As one of the most powerful antioxidants found in nature, the astaxanthin in our premium supplement can support the healthy functions of your brain, heart, eyes, joints, skin, muscles and immune system. Natural astaxanthin’s high antioxidant capacity also makes this supplement a great asset for athletes and regular gym-goers. Take it regularly to protect your cells from oxidative stress and maintain your body’s natural strength, stamina and endurance.
Health Ranger’s Hawaiian Astaxanthin Gel caps and Chief Originals Astaxanthin Softgels are not irradiated and contain no gluten, pesticides or GMOs. They are also Natural Algae Astaxanthin (NAXA)-verified, so they’re guaranteed to contain only natural astaxanthin derived from H. pluvialis. Both supplements are also extensively lab tested for glyphosate, heavy metals and microbiology.
Give your antioxidant defense system a powerful boost by supplementing with clean, natural astaxanthin supplements today!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any diseases.