The growing role of algae in health & nutrition

Astaxanthin is a xanthophyll carotenoid of predominantly marine origin, with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects demonstrated in both experimental and human studies. Arun Nair, CEO, AstaReal reported that the global astaxanthin business is currently worth $550-600 million, with projections up to $2.5 billion by 2020. The natural astaxanthin market used as an ingredient is estimated is $150-160 million dollars.

The primary source of natural astaxanthin is haematococcus pluvialis. Growing methods including indoor PBRs, indoor tubular systems and outdoor raceway ponds.

Fermentation tanks, tubular system sand outdoor raceway ponds. Source: Arun Nair

Free radicals are unstable, highly reactive molecules with unpaired electrons. Free radicals can be generated naturally in our bodies by different metabolic activities, enzymatic reactions and exercise. Free radicals are usually produced in a scale that the body’s natural antioxidants can handle.

People are exposed to free radicals produced by various environment sources, such as pollution, smoking, UV radiation from the sun, and alcohol consumption. Constant exposure to a toxic environment creates a significant imbalance between the body´s natural antioxidant capacity and its ability to neutralize free radicals. The result is a damaging condition called “oxidative stress.”

One of the primary causes of human aging is oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Free radicals have harmful effects on lipids, proteins, DNA and can cause damage to the human body.

Antioxidants are molecules that work against the oxidation of the cells. They are stable enough to offer electrons to free radicals and thus help neutralize them. They provide protection against the damaging effects of free radicals.

Nishida et al., (2007) calculated that astaxanthin is the most powerful antioxidant known to science. Its power comes from its unique structure that allows it to quench free radicals in the inner and outer layer of the cell membrane, unlike other antioxidants. Astaxanthin is:

  • 500 times stronger than vitamin E
  • 560 times stronger than Green tea catechins
  • 800 times stronger than CoQ 10
  • 3000 times stronger than Resveratol
  • 6000 times stronger than vitamin C

AstaReal has published more than 150 studies about astaxanthin since the 1980’s. The company has published more than 60 clinical studies in humans for health in muscles, hair, eyes, brain, and heart.

Natural astaxanthin improves muscle endurance through its ability to support muscle function and improve aerobic power. Astaxanthin boosts muscle endurance and recovery and reduces muscle damage and inflammation. Astaxanthin reduces lactic acid build up, which decreases fatigue and improves endurance. Natural astaxanthin improves blood flow and the quality of red blood cells. In addition, it enhances fat metabolism by improving mitochondria function.

Astaxanthin supplements can help improve eye health and the symptoms linked to eye fatigue, eye irritation and blurred vision. Clinical studies show that astaxanthin supplementation improves eye fatigue by quenching cellular inflammation that emerges during persistent visual stress and tension of the ciliary muscle. Astaxanthin improves capillary blood flow and reduces inflammation of the ciliary muscle (that may occur with excessive computer and digital device use). Astaxanthin defends aging eyes against the threat of cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma.

Astaxanthin can enhance skin health and texture. The skin is the largest organ of the body and is extremely complex; consisting of multiple layers each of which have unique and important functions. Astaxanthin can optimize the health and radiance of the skin by providing protection and support to all layers. Supplements can revitalize photo-aged skin by quenching oxidative stress in all skin layers. Astaxanthin has been shown to reduce the size of wrinkles and improve skin microtexture by improving skin elasticity by strengthening the collagen layer. A 2017 study in Japan concluded that prophylactic astaxanthin supplementation may inhibit age-related skin deterioration and maintain skin conditions associated with environmentally induced damage via its anti-inflammatory effect.

The immune system functions better when protected by antioxidants and astaxanthin enhances antibody production. Astaxanthin has a strong ability to both balance and strengthen the immune system, therefore improving its ability to defend the body while also helping to suppress the overactive immune responses. The robust antioxidant protects immune cells against oxidative stress.

The digestive system is one of the most sensitive components of the human body. A healthy digestive system plays an important role in a healthy lifestyle. Clinical studies have shown that astaxanthin supplementation can support gastric health and may be helpful for alleviating structural damage to the digestive system under stressful conditions.

Astaxanthin, a dietary carotenoid, has powerful anti-inflammation properties in various models of tissue injury. Astaxanthin supplements lead to improvements in cognitive function in older individuals who complained of age-related forgetfulness. Astaxanthin may help prevent dementia, including Alzheimer’s, and help prevent neurodegeneration associated with oxidative stress. Astaxanthin treatment is neuroprotective through suppression of cerebral inflammation.

SWOT Analysis

Arun Nair shared the interesting way AstaReal views the astaxanthin market with a SWOT analysis.

Astaxanthin SWOT Analysis — Source: AstaReal

Despite the astaxanthin industry weaknesses and threats, AstaReal remains highly optimistic about market trends and the substantial interesting in astaxanthin medical research.

Oxidative stress and inflammation are common pathophysiological features of cardiovascular heart disease, (CHD). A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study investigated the effects of astaxanthin on lipid profiles and oxidative stress in overweight and obese adults. These results suggest that supplementary astaxanthin has positive effects on CHD by improving the LDL cholesterol, apolipoprotein B, and oxidative stress biomarkers.

And if that doesn’t convince you to try it, AstaReal even promotes the city where they produce astaxanthin. Moses Lake, Washington as the “Healthiest City” in the USA. Wow! A city that produces algae for astaxanthin makes a credible claim for the “Healthiest City” in the USA. What great recognition for algae!