It's a super antioxidant from the sea, and coincidentally is a great one to know about if you plan to lay be the sea and soak up some rays this summer. Meet astaxanthin; natures inside-out skin nutrition.
Did you know that baby flamingos are white? Their diet consists primarily of shrimp, crustaceans and algae, which are all sources of astaxanthin. A pinkish coloured carotenoid. Once flamingos have eaten enough of these foods, they take on their characteristic pink colour.
Luckily, you are not a flamingo and increasing your intake of astaxanthin will not turn you pink, but the good news is that it's a super nutrient for humans and it may offer good protection for your skin this summer, whether at home or abroad.
Astaxanthin is classified as a xanthophyll carotenoid along with lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids do not convert into vitamin A, yet still have effective antioxidant properties of their own. Impressively, astaxanthin has the ability to extend the life of other antioxidants within the body, such as vitamins C, E and lutein.
One main area of interest are the effects that astaxanthin has on skin health and integrity. Studies have shown that this carotenoid protects the skin and eyes from damage caused by ultraviolet rays from the sun. Sun damage is thought to be one of the main causes of premature ageing of the skin. In fact, astaxanthin is often referred to as the internal sunscreen and it may also prevent other types of oxidative damage to cells throughout the body.
The anti-inflammatory properties of astaxanthin have also been extensively studied. It appears that astaxanthin supresses a range of inflammatory markers such as C-reactive proteins and Cox-1 and -2 enzymes.
Foods such as shrimp, wild salmon, trout, crab and lobster are the best dietary sources of astaxanthin, and if you are not scoffing seafood this summer, it can also be taken as a food supplement.