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Should we take algae supplements for astaxanthin?

Is any research available on astaxanthin which seems to be touted as a wonderful antioxidant?

MarkB / Originally posted below Dragon’s blood

Answer:

Astaxanthin is the reason flamingos are pink (or at least flamingos in the wild; in the zoo they may be fed artificial dyes like farmed salmon–see my video Artificial Coloring in Fish). Astaxanthin is also the reason some crustacean shells turn red when boiled. One need not eat flamingo feathers or lobster exoskeletons, though. You can go right to the source and get it from green algae such as chlorella (I recommend against blue-grean algae and spirulina–see for example my videos Is blue-green algae good for you? and Another Update on Spirulina).

review last month suggests a wide range of beneficial effects, though one should note the author is listed as a dietary supplement industry consultant. With a few exceptions, I recommend against taking supplements as they have been found in some cases to be less effective (see, for example, my Produce Not Pills) or even deleterious (see Is vitamin D the new vitamin E? and my other 60 videos on supplements).  One should take advice form health food store employees with a grain of Himalayan pink salt:

Summarized in my blog Health Food Store Advice: Often Worthless or Worst.

Image credit: GreenRon  / Flickr

Dr. Michael Greger

About Michael Greger M.D.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

View all videos by Michael Greger M.D.

  • WholeFoodChomper

    “with a grain of Himalayan pink salt”. Funny! :)

  • Foodlover

    I take an astaxanthin supplement and I have noticed the brown age spots on my skin have lightened considerable and I don’t burn nearly as easily as I used to. The astaxanthin I take is an extract from an algae called Haematococcus pluvialis.

  • Psych MD

    I’ve been taking astaxanthin for about six months. Unlike the case with other supplements, astaxanthin proponents make a claim that is easily testable: . protection from sunburn. A couple months ago I was at Laguna Seca Raceway watching the Continental Tire Series Challenge. It was a beautiful summer day so I decided to put it to the test. At 11:30 AM I removed my shirt, exposing a 60 year old torso that hadn’t seen the light of day for more than a few minutes at a time for decades. I expected to have to cover up after about 20 minutes but, not seeing any sign of irritation, I kept going. I continued to check myself at frequent intervals. Finally after two topless hours I called it quits. The next day I had no more than a pinkish hue. Normally I’d have been peeling within a few days but it never happened. Suffice to say I have continued taking astaxanthin.

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