Salmon are notoriously easy to spot amongst other fish given their red-pink pigmentation. Similar to the feathers of a flamingo, astaxanthin is the cause for this coloration and it has a host of unique properties used for mental and physical health. The most effective way to consume astaxanthin is through an existing krill oil supplement.
Astaxanthin is primarily known for its immune boosting and anti-inflammatory properties. There is ample evidence that astaxanthin can reduce inflammation . This is primarily due to anti-oxidant properties, which are said to promote the longevity of cells as well . Some studies suggest that these anti-inflammatory properties reduce cognitive deficits .
Recent studies also show that astaxanthin can help to reduce signs of aging by increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and combating oxidative stress in the brain . Given the cost of astaxanthin by itself, most people are better off buying krill oil to get their omega-3 fatty acids (DHA / EPA) and added astaxanthin.
Also Known As
Cardax (Disodium Disuccinate Astaxanthin), 3, 3′-dihydroxy-b, b-carotene-4, 4′-dione
Editors’ Thoughts no Astaxanthin
There is not much to be said about astaxanthin except that it gets my own personal recommendation through krill oil. I prefer krill oil as it knocks out two birds with one stone (rather than taking fish oil and astaxanthin). My grandparents using krill oil for the same reason and it is definitely a protective / “just in case” mechanism.
Mansal Denton, Nootropedia Editor
Currently there is not much research regarding astaxanthin’s effects and the brain. Many of the astaxanthin benefits are related to heart or the eyes. However, many studies in the past few years have shown benefits of astaxanthin that are related to the brain. One particular benefit includes the antioxidant effect on the brain. This molecule helps to promote certain enzymes that are antioxidants, which reduce oxidative stress .
Besides reducing oxidative stress in the brain, it helps to increase levels of BDNF, which are associated with neurogenesis and growth. This molecule is often implicated in helping memory formation, learning, and plays an important role in cognitive function .
The anti-inflammatory effects, much touted for fish oil in general, also aid in brain health. Having an inflamed brain will cause a loss of cognitive function, but reducing inflammation through astaxanthin can help to prevent some of the decline. One 2015 study showed that the molecule “…could improve cognition by protecting neurons against inflammation injury…” . While the evidence is new and still not conclusive, it is obvious astaxanthin has many cognitive advantages.
Side Effects of Astaxanthin
The only noted side effect of astaxanthin is converting feces into a reddish color. This is not dangerous, but could be alarming to some people who are taking this substance and fear their stools are bloody. This only happened in a single study where 48 mg (a higher than recommended dosage) was used .
Many studies use recommended doses of 6 – 20 mg and find that there are no significant side effects or adverse effects . Some people anecdotally report feeling headaches when taking the supplement, but there is currently no direct correlation within any of the literature.
The astaxanthin dosage range is between 6 – 8 mg per day, which is low enough that a krill oil supplement will have what you are looking for. Sometimes people tolerate up to 20 – 50 mg of the supplement with a higher risk of mild side effects. The toxicity level of astaxanthin is not currently known, but it is not a good idea to try higher doses until you have started smaller.
Astaxanthin is considered a fat soluble molecule so it may be useful to take it alongside a fat source (ideally krill oil) or food.
How and Where to Buy Astaxanthin
You can find astaxanthin for sale primarily on the internet rather than your local grocery store. The isolated molecule itself is a rather recent phenomenon and is desirable to only a small subset of nootropics and supplement enthusiasts.
Your best bet is to buy krill oil online and then use the adequate dosage of astaxanthin within this supplement to suit your needs. There are many brands (including some like TruNature at Costco) or Nutrex, but we recommend you spend the same amount of money and get the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids (DHA / EPA) as well.
The Pure Nootropics krill oil is the same price or cheaper than most astaxanthin only products and has adequate astaxanthin doses for your purposes.
Selected Community Experiences
“I started supplementing with astaxanthin a couple of days ago and I feel absolutely incredible on it. I feel like my brain is wired and dialed into whatever I am doing. It’s like I drank a large cup of coffee with out any of the jittery side effects. It really seems to help really well with my verbal fluency and memory also.”  – NeuroEnhance
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