If you, like most people, feel unsettled about the prospect of aging, you may want to add a supplement called astaxanthin (pronounced as-ta-zan-thin) to your anti-aging protocol.
This orange-red pigment is part of the carotenoid family. And there’s evidence that it may protect the health of your skin, brain, heart, and eyes.
Astaxanthin is a naturally occurring carotenoid produced by the oceanic microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis in response to stress.
If you eat seafood, you can get it from salmon, shrimp, lobster, and crab. These guys get their color from the buildup of astaxanthin in their tissues.
It’s also available as a safe (and reasonably priced) supplement.
There are potent antioxidants on the market, but astaxanthin may beat them all.
Astaxanthin quenches free radicals like a boss. It’s known as “The King of Carotenoids.”
This comes down to its unique lipophilic and hydrophilic structure (in English: it loves water and fat). It can become part of the cell membrane, where it strategically protects both the inside and outside of your cells.
In short, by reducing oxidative stress, astaxanthin helps cells function more efficiently, with knock-on effects for overall health.
Astaxanthin may also have the following benefits:
Astaxanthin may help you achieve smooth, healthy skin by slowing down sun damage and premature signs of aging. Sign me up!
This study found astaxanthin protected the skin from UV damage and reduced moisture loss.
Another study found a combination of oral and topical astaxanthin reduced crow’s feet and improved skin elasticity, hydration, and texture in men and women.
Astaxanthin quells inflammation and oxidative stress – factors we know are enemies of a healthy heart.
Astaxanthin may slow the progression of atherosclerosis (which leads to the hardening of arteries).
Astaxanthin crosses the brain-blood barrier, putting it in a unique position to protect you from age-related cognitive decline.
A study on people with age-related forgetfulness found that both 6 mg and 12 mg of astaxanthin improved their cognitive functioning. However, this study found astaxanthin only improved word recall in those aged 45-54.
You can get astaxanthin from food, but it is tricky to get a therapeutic dose with diet alone. Luckily, astaxanthin is widely available as a bioavailable supplement.
We have compiled a list of the 8 best astaxanthin supplements on the market (all made according to GMP standards).
*Note: We have affiliate links throughout this article, which means we receive a commission if you purchase from any of our links. This supports our mission to bring complicated health and fitness info in an entertaining package. And it keeps us from putting up annoying things like banner ads. Those suck.
Double Wood Astaxanthin provides 12 mg of patented AstaReal® per soft gel in a base of extra-virgin olive oil for optimal absorption.
AstaReal is the real deal (pun intended), with over 70 human studies supporting its efficacy. It’s sourced directly from non-GMO microalgae grown in the USA. The microalgae are USP (United States Pharmacopeial) verified for purity.
Each bottle offers a 2-month supply for just $19.95.
Double Wood Supplements is a family-run business manufacturing supplements in the USA. Their products are third-party tested, and the test results are available on their site.
All these factors give their astaxanthin the edge over others on this list.
Micro Ingredients Astaxanthin comes in easy-to-swallow soft gels containing 12 mg of natural astaxanthin from Haematococcus pluvialis microalgae encased in sunflower oil.
This product is vegan-friendly and free from GMOs, preservatives, additives, soy, and gluten. A 3-month supply will cost you just $27.54.
Micro Ingredients products go through rigorous quality testing. No room for corner cutting here!
Life Extension Astaxanthin is impressive when it comes to bioavailability.
Each capsule provides 4 mg of astaxanthin (from microalgae) and 80 mg of a proprietary phospholipid blend. It contains four different phospholipids – the same fats that make up your cell membranes. This allows your cells to recognize and incorporate astaxanthin effortlessly.
It’s gluten-free and non-GMO – but not vegan.
Sports Research Astaxanthin features Icelandic Astalif, a patented form of astaxanthin sourced from the purest microalgae.
Each triple-strength soft gel contains 12 mg of astaxanthin in a base of virgin coconut oil. It’s vegan, paleo-friendly, gluten-free, and IGEN non-GMO tested.
Sports Research is a family-owned and operated company based in California. They are cGMP compliant and ensure all their products are third-party tested for purity.
NOW Astaxanthin offers a few different forms and concentrations of astaxanthin:
California Gold Astaxanthin soft gels provide 12 mg of AstaLif® per serving. This is Icelandic astaxanthin sourced from Haematococcus pluvialis microalgae and extracted using solvent-free CO2 technology.
It’s mixed with safflower oil for optimal absorption and contains no gluten, GMOs, or soy.
Doctor’s Choice Astaxanthin provides 6 mg of bioavailable AstaReal® in a base of olive oil. It’s vegan-friendly, non-GMO, gluten-free, and soy-free.
Doctor’s Best is a physician-founded brand committed to producing third-party tested supplements in cGMP-certified facilities.
Codeage Eye Vitamins is a comprehensive macular support supplement containing bioavailable astaxanthin.
This formula contains many ingredients used in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2), including vitamins A, C, and E, zinc, and vegan omega-3s.
It also contains the Codeage Macular Protection Blend in a phospholipid medium for increased absorption:
We reviewed what we believe are the best astaxanthin supplements.
To help you make the best decision for your lifestyle, here are the factors we considered when ranking the supplements.
The FDA does not regulate the supplement industry. It’s like the wild West out there!
We selected products subject to strict third-party testing and made according to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) regulations.
Did you know there is a synthetic form of astaxanthin added to farmed salmon to give it a pop of color?
Unfortunately, this is much less effective than naturally-occurring astaxanthin from algae.
We ensure all the products here contain astaxanthin from microalgae sources, not crustaceans or fish. This makes them safe for people with seafood allergies.
We also prioritized non-GMO, patented forms of astaxanthin sourced from microalgae grown in controlled environments.
Astaxanthin has a unique fat-soluble structure, which allows it to merge with your cell membranes. We only included products that use a lipid delivery mechanism to enhance bioavailability.
We compare the overall price of each product based on what they offer. We strive to list products that are high-quality and affordable.
It’s safe to say astaxanthin’s anti-inflammatory properties may help you stay mobile as you age. But can it improve your performance?
As of now, we can’t say for sure whether astaxanthin has any effect.
Note: If you try astaxanthin for performance, don’t take it too close to a workout. Antioxidants blunt oxidative stress and muscle fiber damage, which are necessary to trigger muscle growth and adaptation.
Theoretically, astaxanthin should protect the vasculature of the eyes and slow age-related eye problems.
This study found an antioxidant blend with 4 mg of astaxanthin reduced eye strain in older people.
However, we need more clinical studies using astaxanthin as the sole ingredient.
Animal studies have found astaxanthin has anti-arthritic activity. It may protect against osteoarthritis by lowering inflammation and reducing cartilage destruction. But we need human studies to support these findings.
This small clinical study found a high dose of astaxanthin (16 mg per day) increased sperm velocity. Pregnancy rates also increased in their partners during this time.
Limited research suggests astaxanthin may support a healthy immune response.
This study on healthy women found taking astaxanthin over two months increased the activity of natural killer cells.
There is no official recommended dose for astaxanthin, but human studies have found 4-16 mg daily to be the most beneficial.
Most supplements offer astaxanthin in 4, 6, 10, and 12 mg doses.
Astaxanthin supplements are well-tolerated by most people. Studies have used doses of up to 40 mg per day with no ill effects.
In some people, it may result in red-orange skin coloration. However, this is rare and will go away when you stop supplementing.
We encourage you to speak to your doctor to see if astaxanthin is right for you.