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astaxanthin

Astaxanthin – The King of Antioxidants

Allow me to acquaint you with one of nature’s most potent antioxidants – astaxanthin (as-ta-xan-thin) – with the latest research showing promising results for those everyday concerns such as ageing skin, low immunity, tiredness and fatigue, aching joints, low fertility, poor cognitive function, below-par exercise performance – and so much more.

What is astaxanthin?

Astaxanthin is a bright red carotenoid pigment (natural colour) derived from haematococcus pluvialis (H. pluvialis), an algae with the highest levels of astaxanthin, accumulated to protect itself in response to stressors from its environment, such as starvation, high levels of salt, high temperature and radiation. The accumulation of astaxanthin turns the algae from green to red, and is responsible for the bright pink-red colouring of many marine animals such as salmon, crab and lobster and the brightly coloured feathers of flamingos, who obtain astaxanthin through their diet. Aside from its wonderful colouring, its main action is that of an antioxidant and, as such, providing protection to algae from environmental stressors as listed above.

Just as with algae, the human body is also exposed to environmental stressors; however, these lead to the creation of free radicals – for example, from factors such as poor diet, pollution, stress, exercise, smoking, alcohol and medication. Fortunately, the body has its own inbuilt antioxidant capabilities which it works hard to keep in balance. Issues arise, however, when an over-burdened body struggles to keep up, which can lead to oxidative stress and, in turn, cellular damage. Long term, oxidative stress is associated with chronic inflammation, autoimmune conditions, accelerated ageing and hormonal issues.

Astaxanthin can support combat against free radicals

Astaxanthin works in several ways to help to combat free radicals in the human body. Like all antioxidants, astaxanthin donates a chemical group to free radicals (compounds that have lost a chemical group and without it become unstable and lead to oxidative damage). With many antioxidants, they themselves can become pro-oxidant unless they are recycled by another antioxidant. Astaxanthin, importantly, has an unlimited ability to provide chemical groups without itself becoming a pro-oxidant. Astaxanthin also works by calming free radicals, absorbing the negative energy they emit. Finally, its unique chemical structure enables it to act through the entire cell, unlike fat-soluble antioxidants that tend to provide protection to the inner wall of the cell membrane, and water-soluble antioxidants that provide protection only to the outer wall. Since astaxanthin is able to span the cell membrane, it provides antioxidant protection to the inner and the outer wall, as well as the intra-membrane space.

Of all the carotenoids, astaxanthin is nature’s most potent, with the highest known ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) – a measure of its ability to combat oxidative stress. Astaxanthin’s ability to quench free radicals is 6,000 times greater than vitamin C, 800 times that of coenzyme Q10 and 550 times that of vitamin E.

Studies to date show astaxanthin’s ability to reduce and terminate oxidative stress, protect against unwanted inflammation and protect cell structure and function, providing health-enhancing properties in the following areas:

  • Astaxanthin for ageing skin – Skin ageing occurs over time, but the ageing process is accelerated by certain lifestyle factors and exposure to agents which cause oxidative stress in the skin – like, for example smoking, drinking alcohol, UV exposure from the sun and poor diet, amongst others. Studies illustrate that supplementation and topical application of astaxanthin improved the appearance of ‘crow’s feet’, improved elasticity, skin texture and moisture content over the course of 8 weeks (1). Who doesn’t want to keep that fresh-faced and crease-free complexion for longer?
  • Astaxanthin for exercise – Exercise leads to production of reactive oxygen nitrogen species (RONS) within muscle, which promote improvement in athletic performance. Without the body’s own antioxidant capabilities, RONS can cause a state of oxidative stress, the body can become overloaded during times of vigorous exercise, thus leading to oxidation, damaging molecules and potentially a negative impact on physiological function. Astaxanthin is not only a powerful antioxidant, but as it also upregulates the body’s own antioxidant capabilities, it helps to rebalance the oxidative stress caused by an over-production of RONS, with 3-5 weeks of astaxanthin supplementation shown to improve exercise metabolism, performance and recovery (2).
  • Astaxanthin for neuroprotection – Astaxanthin is a fat-soluble molecule, enabling it to pass the blood-brain barrier where it can exert its beneficial effects neurologically. With its ability to upregulate the body’s own antioxidant capabilities, as well as exerting anti-inflammatory effects, supplementing with astaxanthin can reduce the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), the build-up of which can lead to tissue damage and therefore loss of function following a cerebrovascular event (3).
  • Astaxanthin for cardiovascular disease – Studies suggest that taking astaxanthin before an ischemic event provides protection to the muscle tissue of the heart (4). It has also been shown to have a positive effect on cholesterol levels by decreasing overall triglycerides and increasing HDL (‘good’) cholesterol, which provides protection against atherosclerosis as HDL cholesterol carries LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol back to the liver to prevent it from forming plaques in the arteries (5).
  • Astaxanthin for eye health – Astaxanthin protects the cells of the eye following an ischemic attack (6) and also inhibits retinal damage following white light exposure (7). A 6mg daily dose of astaxanthin for 4 weeks has also been shown to improve the function of the eye in middle-aged participants with eye strain complaints (8).
  • Astaxanthin for immunity – Astaxanthin has been shown to boost the immune response and reduce DNA damage when exposed to infection (9).
  • Introducing Pure Essentials AstaPure Astaxanthin Complex

    Pure Essentials AstaPure Astaxanthin Complex is a natural extract from the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis (H. Pluvialis) – the same algae responsible for the pink-red pigmentation of wild salmon and crustaceans. AstaPure contains the highest available concentration of astaxanthin, as well as a complex of other beneficial carotenoids including lutein, canthaxanthin, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene, amino acids and fatty acids, which together offer a broad range of health benefits, enhance its bioavailability and increase cell membrane stability.

    Written by Maxine Sheils, Nutritional Therapist at Igennus Healthcare Nutrition.

    References
    1. Tominaga K., Hongo N., Karato M., et al. (2012). ‘Cosmetic benefits of astaxanthin on humans subjects’, Acta biochimica polonic, 59 (1), pp. 43-47.
    2. Brown D. R., Gough L.A., Deb S.K., et al. (2018). ‘Astaxanthin in exercise metabolism, performance and recovery: a review’, Frontiers in nutrition, 4 (76), pp. 1-9.
    3. Haijian W., Huanjiang N., Anwen S., et al. (2015). ‘Astaxanthin as a Potential Neuroprotective Agent for Neurological Diseases’, Marine drugs, 13 (9), pp. 5750-5766.
    4. Fassett R.G. & Coombes J.S. (2011). ‘’Astaxanthin: A Potential Therapeutic Agent in Cardiovascular Disease’, Marine drugs, 9 pp. 447-465.
    5. Yoshida H., Yanai H., Ito K., et al. (2010). ‘Administration of natural astaxanthin increases serum HDL-cholesterol and adiponectin in subjects with mild hyperlipidemia’, Atherosclerosis, 209 (2), pp. 520-523. 7.
    6. Otsuka T., Shimazawa M., Inoue Y., et al. (2016). ‘Astaxanthin Protects Against Retinal Damage: Evidence from In Vivo and In Vitro Retinal Ischemia and Reperfusion Models’, Current eye research, 41 (11), pp. 1465-1472.
    7. Tomohiro O., Masamitsu S., Tomohiro N., et al. (2013). ‘The Protective Effects of a Dietary Carotenoid, Astaxanthin, Against Light-Induced Retinal Damage’, Journal of pharmacological sciences’, 123, pp. 209-218.
    8. Kajita M., Tsukahara H. & Kato M. (2009). ‘The Effects of a Dietary Supplement Containing Astaxanthin on the accommodation Function of the Eye in Middle-aged and Older People’, Translated from medical consultation and new remedies, 46 (3), pp. 1-7.
    9. Park J.S., Chyun J.H, Kim Y.K, et al. (2010). ‘Astaxanthin decreased oxidative stress and inflammation and enhanced immune response in humans’, Nutrition and metabolism, 7 (18) pp. 1-10.

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    Vitamin

    Fighting Your Vitamin D-Mons with BetterYou

    Fight Your Vitamin D-Mons

    With winter well on the way, the coughs, headaches and constant tiredness you take for granted may be a symptom of something more serious than just sunlight withdrawal.

    So BetterYou, the vitamin oral spray experts, are on hand to explain the importance of vitamin D.

    Why is vitamin D so important?

    Vitamin D is vital for the development of healthy bones, boosting immunity and helping to fight off colds and flu. Having adequate levels of vitamin D has also been linked to helping prevent cardiovascular diseases, IBS and other auto-immune diseases.

    How do I get vitamin D?

    We make vitamin D from sunlight, but sadly even during the summer months we miss out on the vital vitamin as we layer on the SPF or head for the shade. So, along with our increasingly indoor lifestyles, by the time it gets to winter we have no chance of maintaining our levels from the sun alone.

    Another way of getting vitamin D is through our diet, but unless you plan on eating at least seven eggs or twelve packets of cheese everyday, it is extremely difficult to get the recommended daily allowance, even with a healthy diet.

    The easiest way to get the right amount of vitamin D is therefore to use a supplement.

    Are you at risk?

    The Government now recommends that everyone should take a vitamin D supplement throughout the autumn and winter months, with ‘at risk’ groups being advised to supplement all year round, which include:

    • Pregnant and breastfeeding women
    • Infants and children
    • People over the age of 65
    • People with darker skin
    • Those who have low or no sun exposure

    What are the signs?

    It’s not surprising that around one in five adults and around one in six children (that’s more than 10 million of us!) have low vitamin D levels. So how do you know if you are lacking in the sunshine vitamin?

    Tiredness & fatigue, bone & teeth problems, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), coughs & colds, and low mood are all symptoms of vitamin D deficiency that are often overlooked.

    If you suffer from any of these on a regular basis it could mean you are lacking in vitamin D and now is the time to start fighting off those D-mons!

    Sunshine in a spray

    Many of us don’t like taking pills – we can find them difficult to swallow and are restricted to when we can take them.

    But now, supplementing the sunshine vitamin has never been so simple. BetterYou has created a range of vitamin D oral sprays suitable for the whole family which deliver the nutrient directly into the bloodstream, via the soft tissue of our inner cheeks, which trials have shown is 2.5 times more effective than taking vitamin capsules.

    Taking a spray rather than tablets or capsules also means that the vitamin is not lost through the processes of the digestive system, and is easy to use on the go with no need for food or water.

    Take a look at how an oral spray can help boost your levels.

    Fight your vitamin D-mons with the award-winning DLux Vitamin D Oral Spray range by BetterYou and get 20% with bodykind this Vitamin D Awareness Week.

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    Can CoEnzyme-Q10 combat statin side-effects?

    A new study (1) confirms long-standing concerns about the side-effects of cholesterol-lowering statins. The study suggests that statin drugs can cause significant problems with energy levels and general fatigue, especially in women.

    Statins are routinely prescribed to individuals with raised cholesterol levels and are among the most widely prescribed drugs in the UK. These drugs lower cholesterol levels by inhibiting a liver enzyme (HMG-CoA reductase) which plays a role in cholesterol production. Unfortunately this enzyme is also important for the production of Co-enzyme Q10. CoQ10 is a nutrient found in almost every cell in the body and is essential for energy production in the muscles.

    The study, published in Archives of Internal Medicine, followed a group of individuals who were randomised to take one of two statins (simvastatin at 20 mg per day or pravastatin at 40 mg per day) or placebo for six months. Participants were rated at regular intervals through the study for their perceived fatigue on exertion, general fatigue and energy levels.

    Overall, statins did indeed appear to cause a significant change in energy and worsen fatigue on exertion. Women were more affected than men.

    In fact, 40% of the women receiving statins reported either a reduction in energy or a worsening of fatigue on exertion. 10% of the women reported that both of these issues were ‘much worse’.

    Nuts contain CoQ10
    Nuts contain Co-Enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) which is beneficial towards energy levels

    Co-enzyme Q10 is essential for the ‘battery’ in each cell to power our muscles and organs. It is not surprising that depletion of CoQ10 can cause muscle weakness and fatigue. CoQ10 is also vital for heart function. According to one recent study (2), 71% of healthy people develop heart rhythm abnormalities when given statins.

    It is important for those taking statins to be aware of the side-effects such as fatigue and muscle weakness, as these symptoms may only appear after some months or years after beginning statin treatment.

    The good news is that those taking statins may be able to protect themselves from these side-effects by including good sources of CoQ10 in their diet. The richest dietary sources of this nutrient are organ meats such as liver and kidney, as these are the bodily organs that naturally store high levels of CoQ10. Other sources include oily fish, eggs, nuts and spinach.

    For many individuals, dietary sources of CoQ10 may be inadequate to combat the draining effect of statins. In these cases I would recommend would be to supplementing 50 – 100 mg of CoQ10 each day.

    Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC

    References

    1. Golomb BA, et al. Effects of Statins on Energy and Fatigue With Exertion: Results From a Randomized Controlled Trial. Arch Int Med epub 11 June 2012

    2. Silver MA, Langsjoen PH, Szabo S, Patil H, Zelinger A. (2004) Effect of atorvastatin on left ventricular diastolic function and ability of coenzyme Q10 to reverse that dysfunction. Am J Cardiol, 94(10):1306-10.

    3. Image courtesy of Zole4

     

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