Astaxanthin is part of a group of phytonutrients called carotenoids. Basically, the vibrant color, such as red, yellow and green, of plant foods is determined by Carotenoids. Astaxanthin is red in color and occurs naturally in some types of microalgae. Once animal and fish consume microalgae that contains Astaxanthin, Astaxanthin starts to accumulate in their bodies. Astaxanthin is responsible for the pink/red color of shrimp, lobster, trout, salmon and even the feather of flamingo.
The carotenoids are healthy antioxidants, but astaxanthin is the strongest antioxidant among all carotenoids! Astaxanthin can neutralize oxygen free radicals
- 6000 times better than Vitamin C
- 3000 times better than Resveratrol
- 800 times better than CoQ10
- 550 times better than Green Tea Catechins
- 75 times better than Alpha Lipoic Acid
- 5 times better than Beta-carotene
- 2.6 times better than Lutein
- 1.6 times better than Lycopene and Zeaxanthin
Many natural antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc Beta-carotene, Lycopene and Zeaxanthin, can turn into oxidants and become harmful to our bodies under certain conditions. Research has revealed that Beta-carotene can increase the risk of lung cancer for smokers due to fact that smoking can deplete vitamin C level. in the absence of vitamin C, beta-carotene has no supporting antioxidant to neutralize free radical and hence become oxidants. This is the findings of famous “Finnish Smokers Study”. Astaxanthin is a super powerful antioxidant and will never become an oxidant or cause damage to our cells.
Computer Vision Syndrome
We are living in the era of digital technology, many people spend few hours on computers, phones and other digital devices daily. Our eyes are not designed to look at digital screens; they focus differently when looking at a digital screen, which lead to far less blinking. The eyes normally blink 15 times per minutes, but that number reduces to 3-4 times per minute when staring at a digital screen. Less blinking causes less tears produced by lacrimal gland, leading to dry eye syndrome. Prolonged exposure to digital screen can lead to digital eye strain and eye fatigue. In addition, Digital screens emit blue light, which is brighter and more intense than the yellow spectrum of light associated with daylight or some types of light bulbs. Blue light is a notorious oxidant that can damage retina. Together, these issues are collectively know as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). CVS affects 90% of these who sit in front of digital screens for over 3 hours daily.
The symptoms of computer vision syndrome are:
- Eye Fatigue
- Eye Strain
- Dry Eyes
- Blurred Vision
- Double Vision
- Neck and Shoulder Pain
- Irritated Eyes
- Difficulty Refocusing the Eyes
Similar to lutein and zeaxanthin, astaxanthin can cross the “blood-brain barrier” first and then cross the “blood-retinal barrier” to reach the eyes. These barriers limits which molecular can reach these vital organs in order to protect them. Once entering the eyes, Astanxathin’s powerful antioxdiant capability supports many eye functions.
Astaxanthin and Digital Eye Strain and Fatigue
Eye fatigue or eye strain, known medically as Asthenopia, is usually due to overuse of eyes, leading to burning, itching, redness or blurred vision. Stress and inflammation of ciliary muscle caused by overuse, can result in off-focus of lens causing discomfort and blurred vision.
Research on the effect of Astaxanthin on eyes started long over 20 years ago. In one study carried out in early 2000’s, after taking 5mg Astaxanthin supplement daily for 4 weeks, 46% fewer people suffered from eye fatigue and eye strain compared to people taking placebo. The results also revealed that people taking Astaxanthin supplements showed higher accommodation amplitude (the ability to focus on various distance) when using digital screens.
In another study investigated natural Astaxanthin’s benefit on eye fatigue in various dose levels. The researchers found out that 4mg natural Astaxanthin showed positive effects, while 12mg natural Astaxanthin had better results to ameliorate eye fatigue.
In two separated studies, scientist determined that taking at least 6mg natural astaxanthin supplement daily not only prevent eye fatigue from occurring in healthy people but also reverse these conditions in people already affected.
Astaxanthin not only help relieve the eye fatigue and eye strain, but also help improve retinal capillary blood flow to ensure retina are healthy and function properly. In a human clinical study performed in Japan, people take 6mg per day of natural Astaxanthin for 4 weeks had improved retinal capillary blood flow.
Astaxanthin and Dry Eyes
In Retina, there is a high concentration of fat particularly polyunsaturated fat such as DHA. Fats are susceptible to oxidation by free radicals and lights. Tears mainly consist of micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, water and an oily outer layer and they are critical to keep eye surfaces lubricated. However, when the eyes can not produce sufficient tears or only produce poor quality tears that evaporate fast, eyes start to dry out.
Learn more about Dry Eye Syndrome.
In 2015, a randomized, double-blinded study compared Astaxnathin supplmentation again placebo on people with Dry Eye Syndrome. The results showed that Astaxanthin supplementation increased tear production and improved tear film stability by reduction tear Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). Astaxathin helps relieve dry eyes in two approaches. First Astaxanthin neutralizes free radicals to reduce fat oxidation in tears so that it takes longer for tears to evaporate and stay longer on eye surface. Second, Astaxanthin improves the function of lacrimal gland to produce more tears.
Dietary Source of Astaxanthin
As with any nutrient or supplement, the ideal way to obtain is through diet when it is possible. Which foods contain the highest level of Astaxanthin? Astaxanthin is mainly found in seafood, yerast or microalgae. Any seafood that is in red color contains Astaxanthin, such as salmon, artic shrimp, krill, lobster, crab, crawfish and red snapper. The table below lists the Astaxanthin content per 3oz. It is apparent that the normal seafood sources do not contain high level of Astanxathin. One has to eat at least one serving of wild sockeye salmon or farmed rainbow trout every day to meet 2 mg minimum daily requirement.
Astaxanthin Benefits Eye in a Different Way
Astaxanthin, Lutein and Zeaxanthin are all carotenoids and promote eye and vision health. Though, they are all super antioxidant, but the way they benefit eye are different. Lutein and Zeaxanthin tends to accumulate at the back of eye where they form a protective layer to filter harmful blue lights before it touches the photoreceptor cells in retina. On the other hand, Astaxanthin is deposited in the front of the eye, offering significant benefits to the lens, cornea and the ciliary body. The synergy of Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Astaxanthin offers a safe, comprehensive relief to people affiliated with Computer Vision Syndrome.