The Most Important Food for Healthy Eyes
How Astaxanthin Protects Your Retina – Research is Pouring in!
Scientists have studied the most common carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin, canthaxanthin, and astaxanthin) and compared their respective abilities to protect the retina. But none perform to the degree that astaxanthin does, in terms of potency as a free radical scavenger and permeability across the blood-brain-retina barrier.
In studies, canthaxanthin was actually found to be potentially damaging to the eye as it caused eye inclusions, which can lead to retinopathy, so this carotenoid was ruled out as a supplement.
Dr. Mark Tso of the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University has aptly demonstrated that astaxanthin is the clear winner when it comes to protecting your eyes.
He discovered that astaxanthin easily crosses into the tissues of the eye and exerts its effects safely and with more potency than any of the other carotenoids, without adverse reactions.
Specifically, Tso determined astaxanthin could ameliorate or prevent light induced damage, photoreceptor cell damage, ganglion cell damage, and damage to the neurons of the inner retinal layers. Other researchers (Shimidzu et al, Bagchi, Martin et al, and Beutner) have since confirmed Dr. Tso's finding that astaxanthin is the most powerful antioxidant ever discovered for eye health, giving your eyes an additional layer of long-term protection.
For example, eye fatigue, eyestrain, blurring and diplopia (aka "double vision," caused by unequal action of your eye muscles) are problems for many people today who work in front of computer displays for long periods of time.
A 2002 Japanese study by Nagaki set out to examine the effects, if any, of astaxanthin on these types of visual problems among computer workers.
They found that giving these workers just 5 mg of astaxanthin daily for four weeks resulted in a 46 percent reduction in eyestrain and improved eye focusing. Another Japanese study by Nakamura in 2004 found similarly positive effects on eyestrain at doses of 4mg, and even better effects at 12mg. In fact, there are now NINE different human clinical astaxanthin studies published in the area of eye fatigue, all showing positive results.
Additional studies have demonstrated that natural astaxanthin supplementation can also help with a wide range of other common eye issues, including the following:
Reducing eye soreness, dryness, tiredness and blurred vision (Shiratori 2005 and Nagaki 2006)
Preventing eye fatigue from occurring in healthy people (Takahashi and Kajita 2005)
Improving retinal capillary blood flow (Yasunori 2005)
Improving your eye's ability to focus by enabling the lens to more easily adjust
Improving depth perception by 46 percent (Sawaki 2002)
Reducing ocular inflammation (Suzuki 2006)
But astaxanthin's performance doesn't end with your eyes—studies are suggesting it may have equally astounding benefits for your brain!
Your Brain on Astaxanthin
Less research has been done about the effects of astaxanthin on your brain than the extensive work related to your eyes. However, what has been done shows great promise. Most of the research to date has been performed on rats.
Blood pressure is a causative factor for many brain and eye diseases.
A study at the International Research Center for Traditional Medicine in Japan found astaxanthin reduced blood pressure in hypertensive rats after only five weeks of supplementation. Researchers discovered the nutrient appears to have a neuroprotective effect in ischemic mice—mice whose blood flow to the brain was obstructed.
This finding offers hope that astaxanthin may be protective against stroke.
If plaque builds up in your carotid arteries, the blood flow to your brain can be compromised, since your carotids are the primary arteries serving your brain. This arterial obstruction can lead to many different serious conditions, including stroke and dementia.
Other studies showed the following:
Astaxanthin may improve memory in vascular dementia (Hussein 2005)
Astaxanthin may boost intelligence
Astaxanthin may prevent brain damage due to ischemia (Kudo et al 2002 and Oryza Company 2006)
There are also indications that astaxanthin can potentially improve recovery from spinal cord and other central nervous system injuries. Although scientific studies to date have been restricted to animal models, the results are nevertheless exciting and demonstrate great promise for humans.
Make Sure Your Astaxanthin is the Natural Variety from Marine Algae—NOT Synthetic
Synthetic (laboratory-made) astaxanthin is now commonly used worldwide to supplement fish feeds in order to obtain the desired pinkish to orange-red color.
Please avoid synthetic astaxanthin because it's made from petrochemicals.
Some aquaculture companies are beginning to use natural astaxanthin instead of synthetic, even though it costs more, because it's better for the health of the animals, and it's far superior for pigmentation. Animals fed fish food with natural astaxanthin have higher survival rates, better growth rates, better immunity, fertility and reproduction.
Unfortunately, synthetic astaxanthin still dominates the farmed salmon industry worldwide.
If your salmon label does not read "wild" or "naturally colored," you're probably going to be eating a coloring agent somewhat closer to motor oil than antioxidant. Natural astaxanthin is more than 20 times stronger as an antioxidant than synthetic astaxanthin.
Wild salmon are 400 percent higher in astaxanthin than farmed salmon, and 100 percent of their pigment is natural astaxanthin, rather than synthetic. Plus, wild salmon have much higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids than the farmed version. Just make sure to get wild Pacific salmon.
But even if you are successful in purchasing genuine wild salmon, there is the problem with high levels of mercury and other unwanted toxins, not to mention the skyrocketing prices.
You may recognize the name astaxanthin because I have mentioned it in reference to krill oil, my favorite source of animal based omega-3 fatty acids. One of the reasons I am such a fan of krill is that it naturally contains astaxanthin..
But, as high as it is, new research suggests you could enjoy even MORE benefits by further increasing your astaxanthin, even if you are already taking a krill oil supplement. If you decide to give astaxanthin a try, I recommend starting with 2 mg per day. If you are on a krill oil supplement, take that into consideration; different krill products have different concentrations of astaxanthin, so check your label.
Astaxanthin is in a number of our products including krill, Eye Support Formula and Astaxanthin with ALA.