If you love that coral color of salmon you can thank astaxanthin -- a pigment, or carotenoid, found in some microalgae and is responsible for giving many forms of seafood a pinkish color. There is evidence that astaxanthin has medical benefits, as well. Astaxanthin is an antioxidant that has shown promise to help with macular degeneration, an eye condition that leads to blindness. There may be other health benefits to astaxanthin, too. Researchers are looking into using this antioxidant as a tool for weight loss.
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Astaxanthin is coloring that occurs naturally in some algae and yeast found in the ocean. Specifically, you find this carcinoid in the red yeast Phaffia rhodozyma. According to the website Natural Eye Care, Phaffia rhodozyma is often part of Asian cuisine. When fish and crustaceans feed on algae, the pigment transfers to their bodies to alter the natural color of the species. This is why fish such as salmon have a pinkish hue. Other seafood known to feed on algae includes shrimp, crayfish and krill.
Astaxathin as an Antioxidant
Antioxidants are supplements that may help to protect cells from damage by free radicals. The human body is exposed to numerous sources of free radicals. They are found in food, in chemicals in the environment and in radiation from the sun. Free radicals interfere with cell regeneration, and MedlinePlus lists them as possible components of heart disease and cancer. Astaxanthin is an antioxidant. This means it may help to reverse and prevent free radical damage.
Weight Loss and Astaxanthin
Losing weight is a complicated process. Medically speaking, to lose weight you must create a calorie deficit, so you burn more calories than you eat. The human body requires energy to work at a base level. You need calories just to maintain a heartbeat. Every function in the body takes energy from a bank of calories created when you eat food. A 2007 study in the journal "Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry" reports that obese mice fed astaxanthin had reduction in body weight gain and fat storage. Hiroshi Yoshida and colleagues wrote, in the April 2010 journal "Atherosclerosis," that test subjects given astaxanthin showed decreases in blood triglyceride and increases in HDL-cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol. More research will be necessary before stating astaxanthin is effective for weight loss.
Treatment Uses of Astaxanthin
Astaxanthin is available in pill form and from food sources. Natural Eye Care states in pill form you should take 2 milligrams to 5 milligrams daily. Increase the amount of salmon and other pink seafoods in your diet to obtain astaxanthin naturally. Natural Eye Care claims therapeutic doses of astaxanthin are 10 times stronger then the antioxidant beta-carotene and up to 500 times stronger than doses of vitamin E. The site offers no medical research to support this claim.
Points to Consider
You should discuss any dietary supplements you want to take with your doctor before beginning a program. Some supplements may interfere with the absorption and effectiveness of prescription medication. If you are being treated for any chronic illnesses do not take a dietary supplement, such as astaxanthin, without consulting your physician first. Weight loss comes from living a healthy lifestyle and requires a managed diet and physical activity. A pill by itself will help you lose weight. The best way to drop pounds is to monitor your calorie intake and get regular exercise.