Astaxanthin is a carotenoid, or a pigment commonly found in fish, shrimp, and some microalgae that now may prove to be an effective treatment for everything from skin conditions to heart health (1).
If you’ve ever marveled at a particularly vivid carrot or piece of salmon, then carotenoids can probably be credited for the eye-popping hue. They’re not just important for the health of plants and animals – they also play a role in human health, helping to combat chronic conditions like cancer and ocular diseases (2).
Like many other carotenoids, astaxanthin is also an antioxidant, which means it comes with a whole set of potential benefits.
1Sports Research High Potency Astaxanthin
Sports Research Astaxanthin is a high-potency supplement made with coconut oil. In this blend, the Astaxanthin is directly sourced from microalgae, specifically Haematococcus Pluvialis, which is one of the best astaxanthin sources.
Sports Research Astaxanthin is Non-GMO, gluten-free and compliant with GMP practices. You only need to take 1 capsule per day, which means each bottle provides you with 60 days of capsules. Additionally, this formula contains AstaReal, which has undergone extensive testing through Fuji Chemical Group.
2BioAstin Hawaiian Astaxanthin
Hawaiian Astaxanthin from BioAstin is one of the leading brands in the marketplace. You can purchase the BioAstin formula in 4mg servings or 12 mg servings. The antioxidant properties of Hawaiian Astaxanthin provide optimal joint, eye, skin, and cardiovascular health. Additionally, natural inflammation in the body is reduced and relieved by the use of astaxanthin.
BioAstin’s formula is unique in that it’s created from fresh water algae directly sourced in Kona, Hawaii. This allows the company to monitor and grow their own ingredients to ensure you are getting the best supplement available. Hawaiian Astaxanthin also contains no soy, wheat, yeast, lactose, or gluten. It’s also non-GMO and BSE free.
3Viva Naturals Astaxanthin
Viva Naturals Astaxanthin is a 3rd party certified supplement for both purity and potency.Each Viva Naturals Astaxanthin softgel features natural astaxanthin, extracted from a microalgae called Haematococcus pluvialis without using heat or harsh chemicals. Viva Naturals Astaxanthin is available in either 4 mg or 12 mg serving sizes so you can take it in whatever dosage will suit your lifestyle best. The bottles come with 120 capsules per bottle.
It’s also non-GMO as well as free of dairy, gluten, lactose, artificial preservatives and soy.
4Amazing Nutrition Astaxanthin Dietary Supplement
This Astaxanthin supplement from Amazing Nutrition is made in the USA. Amazing Nutrition practices GMP-certified standards and this is a soft gel that you won’t be disappointed in. This is another formula that is extracted from Haematococcus Pluvialis, making it a potent compound. The ingredients in this soft gel are all-natural with no extensive processing or unwanted additives. Even the soft gel compound ingredients are simple.
This supplement comes in 12mg dosage with 120 soft gels per bottle. Amazing Nutrition is third-party tested, Non-GMO and even offers a 30-day money-back guarantee for satisfaction.
5NOW Astaxanthin Extra-Strength
NOW astaxanthin comes in various dosages including 4 mg, 10 mg, and 12 mg. Each bottle contains 60 soft gels. NOW manufacturing processes are A-rated GMP certified to ensure that each part of the compilation of these supplements is examined and approved – from testing and formulation to potency and final manufacturing. NOW Astaxanthin is derived from Non-GMO Haematococcus pluvialis microalgae and has naturally occurring lutein, canthaxanthin and beta-carotene.
NOW astaxanthin is manufactured in the USA, and is also non-GMO and Kosher certified.
6Simply Potent High Potency Astaxanthin
Simply Potent offers a highly-potent blend of astaxanthin at 10 mg per capsule. As a powerful antioxidant, Astaxanthin has free radical neutralizing capacity6000 times more than vitamin C, 550 times more than green tea, and 800 times more than CoQ10.
The contents in Simply Potent’s formula are all-natural and is extracted from the Haematococcus Pluvialis miceroalgae which has naturally red pigments. Additionally, you will find it to be non-GMO, gluten-free, and made in the USA in an FDA/GMP regulated facility.
7Jarrow Formulas Astaxanthin
Jarrow Formulas astaxanthin is verified to be wholly natural algae astaxanthin. This formula contains AstaPure as well. Jarrow Formulas astaxanthin sells their product in 60 soft gel quantities with each capsule being 12 mg potent.
Jarrow has a positive brand that is well-known, however they are not as forthcoming with information as some brands. You can find further information when you look into the brand specifically. Jarrow Formulas supplements come with high recommendations to back their name.
It is unclear whether this formula contains GMO or other items such as gluten.
8We Like Vitamins Astaxanthin Supplement
The astaxanthin supplement from We Like Vitamins delivers a steady 10 mg dose with 180 capsules per bottle. All of their products are encapsulated and bottled in the USA with ingredients sourced from around the world. We Like Vitamins astaxanthin contains no preservatives, yeast, corn, artificial coloring, artificial flavors, gluten starch or wheat, milk or milk derivatives, lactose, sugar, salt, soy, or sodium.
We Like Vitamins also donates to Vitamin Angels with every purchase to provide essential vitamins to mothers and children.
9Waka Tani Astaxanthin
Waka Tani is a lesser known brand that offers astaxanthin in 10 mg dosages in 180 soft gel bottles. Waka Tani uses high-quality astaxanthin, sourced from the Haematococcus Pluvialis algae. This company is FDA-registered and they operate in a GMP-certified facility located in the USA.
Additionally, you can expect this supplement to be all-natural, gluten-free and highly potent. Waka Tani also offers a money-back satisfaction guarantee.
10Pure Synergy Organic Super Pure Astaxanthin
Pure Synergy offers a high-quality astaxanthin that is USDA-certified organic. This formula also adds phospholipids for additional nutrients. Pure Synergy contains 6mg of astaxanthin and 30 mg of phospholipids. Additionally, Pure Synergy’s supplement has the NAXA seal of approval for verified natural algae astaxanthin.
It is also certified Organic, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and non-GMO.
How We Rank
The first thing we looked at was where the astaxanthin was sourced. We specifically looked for products that contained Haematococcus Pluvialis as this is one of the purest forms of the micro algae from which to extract astaxanthin from. This is why you won’t see the well-known AlgaLife brand because their product did not specify this source. On the other hand, our top rankings like Amazing Nutrition, are directly sourced from Haematococcus Pluvialis.
Next we looked at dosages. According to research, 12 mg is a high-potency dosage that is typically recommended for workouts and heavily active lifestyles. For maintenance, 4-10 mg is the recommended dose. We preferred lower dosages, like the 4mg BioAstin Astaxanthin capsules, because it allows to manipulate the dosage to meet your individual needs and did not require to take a heavy dosage or a low dosage that simply wouldn’t work for you.
Third, we looked at whether the products added additional fillers or ingredients. Products like Viva Naturals and Now Nutrition ranked high due to their purity. We made exceptions for some ingredients if they were complementary to the astaxanthin and made the supplement more effective. We also preferred products that were vegan or vegetarian since this is a popular way for vegans and vegetarians to get the benefits of astaxanthin without consuming fish or seafood.
Lastly, we looked at if there was added oils to the supplement. Because Astaxanthin is fat soluble, adding in healthy fats like coconut oil will dramatically improve supplements efficacy. This is why we ranked Sports Research number one – it added coconut oil to their formula. Companies that used cheaper oils, like vegetable oil, were penalized.
After all that we determined the top 10 best astaxanthin supplements on the market.
1Astaxanthin helps treat skin inflammation and related disorders. By fighting the inflammatory effects of such skin conditions, astaxanthin may help to regulate skin homeostasis. This applies not only to normal users who’d like to have healthy, beautiful skin, but also to those who may suffer from skin conditions like atopic dermatitis (3).
2Astaxanthin can help with diabetes management. In diabetic patients, high blood sugar oxidatively stresses out certain cells in the pancreas. Specifically, the cells that produce insulin. Astaxanthin has been shown to protect such cells from the stress associated with high blood sugar, in one study reducing glucose toxicity in diabetic mice (5).
Such oxidative stress isn’t just linked to diabetes – it might also be a factor in kidney disease and other complications that result from diabetes.
In another 2007 study published in Life Sciences, astaxanthin ameliorated insulin resistance in rats (6).
Though it can’t replace insulin injections for diabetics, astaxanthin clearly has benefits in terms of managing blood sugar and the associated functions. The research says astaxanthin has a lot of potential as a full-fledged diabetes treatment if the mechanism can be more extensively researched.
3Astaxanthin can aid in treating cardiovascular disease. In repeated animal trials, astaxanthin was shown to reduce markers of oxidative stress in cardiovascular disease, whether it was administered orally or intravenously (7).
In addition, astaxanthin may have a positive benefit on atherosclerosis in particular. Atherosclerosis is a condition in which the arteries get narrower and less flexible as plaque builds up on the inside of the artery walls. The plaque can be made from cholesterol, fat, calcium and other diet-based materials. This can lead to serious issues like heart attack, high blood pressure, and stroke (8).
Though the exact mechanism isn’t known, some studies suggest astaxanthin can help prevent atherosclerosis from happening in the first place (9).
Whether this is due to its antioxidative effects or something else altogether hasn’t yet been sussed out.
4Astaxanthin may help in treating heart attacks. A 2004 study published in Life Sciences showed that astaxanthin may be able to lessen the damage from the event (10).
According to some other studies, pre-treatment of patients at risk for heart attacks with astaxanthin can help, though no research has yet shown that there are benefits to administering it after the fact (11).
In any case, more research is required.
5As a carotenoid, astaxanthin helps fight overall systemic inflammation. Inflammation has been linked to everything from diabetes to cancer. Scientists are starting to investigate anti-inflammatories as a possible solution to many such complex diseases (12).
In various animal and human studies, astaxanthin has been shown to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation while supporting immune response at the same time (13).
While none of these studies point to specific astaxanthin-based therapies, they are all testaments to its role as an anti-inflammatory agent.
6Astaxanthin can help with maintaining healthy vision, even with age. As our eyes age, they start to naturally lose some of their efficacy; sharp edges become blurry, colors stop popping out as much, and dark spots can develop. Though unpleasant, marginal vision loss is a natural result of aging. Astaxanthin, however, may be able to combat it.
A 2008 mice study published in The Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, astaxanthin was shown to prevent oxidative damage to the retina (14).
In another study, an astaxanthin-based supplement with several other ingredients was shown to increase tear production and help patients who suffered from dry eye syndrome (15).
It may even help reduce something as simple and cumulative as eye strain. In one study, a supplement containing astaxanthin and some other ingredients like lutein facilitated significant improvement, both in symptoms like blurry vision and other kinds of vision-related stress like tight shoulders and neck strain (16).
7Astaxanthin could help improve athletic endurance and performance. In one 2011 trial, astaxanthin improved performance among endurance cyclists, supplementing the cyclists’ power output (17).
In another animal study, it helped improve swimming endurance in mice (18).
Scientists posit that this might be due to astaxanthin’s relationship with the fatty acids in your body, which may be more available as an energy source when astaxanthin supplements are taken. Astaxanthin was even shown to help reduce exercise-caused muscular and skeletal damage in mice, suggesting it may be able to help with power output as well as recovery (19).
8Astaxanthin may help prevent cancer. As an anti-inflammatory agent, astaxanthin may be able to help stop cancer. A 2015 study even showed that it may be able to help stop pre-existing cancers from multiplying and spreading (20).
Astaxanthin supplementation helped reduce tumor growth in rats in one study, suggesting it may have potential as an inhibitive treatment (21).
These findings don’t necessarily mean that astaxanthin is a currently viable treatment. To be clear, nobody has shown that it has the power to cure cancer. But multiple studies point to this carotenoid as a promising avenue of research for cancer therapies, perhaps in addition to more conventional methods like chemotherapy.
9Astaxanthin can help protect the brain. A 2017 study showed that astaxanthin may help prevent normal, age-related neurodegeneration (22).
In another study from 2012, astaxanthin actually significantly improved cognitive function. In a population of healthy, individuals, those who’d consumed astaxanthin regularly for twelve weeks performed better on a basic, maze-based cognition test (23).
This suggests that astaxanthin has potential not just as an antioxidant that helps prevent a loss of brain function with age, but as a supplement that can actually have a markedly positive effect on the brain.
10Astaxanthin may be beneficial as an anti-stroke treatment. In one 2011 study, it helped protect stroke-prone rats from thrombosis or forming life-threatening blood clots, in their brains’ blood vessels (24).
In another study, it reduced brain injury caused by ischemia, or a lack of blood flow, in rats altogether (25). Though these are only animal trials, they’re both quite promising, and at least point to the necessity of further research, especially in human trials.
11Astaxanthin can help with high blood pressure. Dietary astaxanthin helps with high blood pressure in many different ways, including by modulating nitric oxide and relaxes the blood vessel, thus helping with high blood pressure (26, 27).
12Astaxanthin can help with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Astaxanthin improves insulin sensitivity, liver inflammation, and reduces fatty liver in mice on a high-fat diet. In addition, astaxanthin helps with fatty liver in humans comparing to placebo (28).
13Astaxanthin can help improve the body’s immune response. Astaxanthin enhanced antibody production and decreased immune response in older animals after dietary supplementation (29). Supplementation with 2 mg astaxanthin for 8 weeks enhanced immune response and reduced CRP in young healthy females (30).
1Astaxanthin may cause changes in skin pigmentation. This is one side effect associated with high dosages of lutein and zeaxanthin (31).
Fortunately, the same study also assessed that there was no other major, impairing side effects from regular usage, even over a five-year period. Skin pigmentation on its own isn’t really a harmful side effect. However, if you notice that your skin is yellowing or doesn’t quite look the way it usually does, that may be a sign that you’re taking a little too much astaxanthin — lowering your dosage probably wouldn’t hurt.
2Astaxanthin has been shown to cause the development of eye crystals in certain individuals. In one specific case, a high lutein diet in combination with lutein supplementation produced crystals in the eye of a woman in her sixties. Once she stopped taking lutein as a supplement, the crystals stopped forming (32).
It’s worth noting, however, that this was the result of very high doses of lutein on a daily basis, for years at a time. Furthermore, this kind of side effect may not necessarily extend to astaxanthin. That said, both side effects listed above seem to be edge cases. Taken in moderation, astaxanthin on a daily basis has not yet been associated with any serious or chronic side effects, so it’s probably safe for general users in good health. If one notices skin pigmentation, it’s probably not harmful, but it may be a sign that you should lower your dosage, if only by a little bit.
3Astaxanthin can increase bowel movements. One of the most common and notable side effects of taking astaxanthin as a capsule supplement is that it could lead to excessive or frequent bowel movements. Additionally, you may notice that your stool contains a red hue or tint due to the pigmentation of the natural supplement. (35)
The recommended dosage is a few milligrams (2-5mg) daily, taken concurrently with meals. If you notice no side effects after keeping your dosage steady for a few weeks, increasing it could be a viable option, as long as you’re careful and continue to monitor your health for any potential side effects.
Astaxanthin isn’t that well researched yet, so information on what the correct dosage is hasn’t been fully formed by scientific consensus yet. However, as with any supplement, it’s best to start with a very small amount, added carefully and gradually into your diet.
In the absence of more concrete guidelines, it’s not recommended to consume any more than 10mg of astaxanthin.
What is a carotenoid? Carotenoids are plant pigments. They’re what causes many of the bright colors you see in fruits and vegetables, such as carrots. Carotenoids aren’t just important for plants – they also play a big role in the human body by acting as antioxidants. This means they can help combat inflammation that manifests in a whole range of different causes, from cancer to rheumatoid arthritis to diabetes.
Are astaxanthin and lutein the same? No, though both supplements are carotenoids. They’re both found in plants, and they both help treat chronic diseases. But while astaxanthin is a deep red pigment found in microalgae, lutein is found in everyday vegetables like corn, kale, and spinach. While they have many of the same or similar benefits, they’re also slightly different in that respect as well. Astaxanthin might have more benefits for your skin than lutein, while lutein is more widely-touted as a good supplement for preventing the degeneration of eyesight.
Does seaweed contain astaxanthin? Seaweeds are rich in astaxanthin and are now widely used in edible products, cosmetics and fish feed.
Can I use astaxanthin on my face? Yes, you can use astaxanthin on your face to improve elasticity and wrinkles, leading to a more youthful look.
Where does astaxanthin come from? Astaxanthin is a red pigment found naturally in microalgae. It also colors a lot of seafood and pink colored fish. If you’ve ever marveled at a particularly vivid orange shrimp or fillet of salmon, you can thank astaxanthin (33).
Can I take astaxanthin if I’m pregnant? While carotenoids have been well-researched for their effects on the elderly, there’s not as much literature out there on how they affect pregnant mothers and newborns. Some studies suggest that they may help prevent disorders which affect preterm infants, but we’d still urge caution if you’re considering taking astaxanthin while pregnant until the side effects are more thoroughly researched (34).
Is astaxanthin safe? As stated above, there aren’t any particularly dangerous side effects associated with astaxanthin usage. Like many carotenoids, it probably comes with relatively little danger. That said, astaxanthin is still being researched and there’s currently a gap to fill in regards to possible side effects and drug interactions. For that reason, pregnant women and those who are already going through other kinds of treatment may want to hold off on astaxanthin until they can have a conversation with their physician.
Does krill oil contain astaxanthin? Yes, krill oil contains astaxanthin.
Can astaxanthin replace my heart or diabetes medication? Unfortunately, no. While it’s currently being researched as a therapy for both heart disease and diabetes, at the current moment it’s just a dietary supplement, not a full-fledged treatment. That’s why even though astaxanthin could very well help, you should continue to take your normal medications even if you start supplementing them with astaxanthin. Furthermore, talking to your doctor about supplements is probably a good idea before starting. Your physician should know if there’s anything that could possibly interfere with your ongoing treatment.
Can I take astaxanthin with my other supplements? As of now, there are no reported negative interactions with other supplements. As always, caution should still be exercised. Furthermore, if you’re already taking another carotenoid, such as lutein, it may be unnecessary or excessive to take astaxanthin at the same time.
When is the best time to take my astaxanthin supplements? Like with many other supplements, there’s no specific guideline for astaxanthin. As long as you’re taking it on a daily basis, sufficient levels should build up in a matter of weeks. That said, taking it during or after meals, as with other supplements, is probably a safe and effective choice.
How long can I take astaxanthin for? Astaxanthin has been used safely by itself in doses of 4 to 40 mg daily for up to 12 weeks, or 12 mg daily for 6 months.
What is the best natural source of astaxanthin? The natural sources of astaxanthin are algae, yeast, salmon, trout, krill, shrimp and crayfish. Astaxanthin also occurs in certain mircoalgae and fungi. 4mg of astaxanthin, is equivalent to one 6 ounce serving of salmon.
Is astaxanthin good for joint pain? Astaxanthin is a natural and potent anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. Astaxanthin is an uprising joint super nutrient, great for relieving pain in both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. Astaxanthin can reduce inflammation and limit the further breakdown of cartilage.
Does astaxanthin lighten skin? Astaxanthin also helps lighten dark spots. It is a potent protection against ultraviolet radiation, assisting the skin in protecting itself against damage by the sun.
Is astaxanthin better than CoQ10? Astaxanthin is in a class of its own when it comes to antioxidant coverage because it filters into every cell of the body. This study found astaxanthin was 6,000 times stronger than vitamin C, 800 times stronger than CoQ10, 550 times stronger than green tea catechins and 75 times stronger than alpha lipoic acid.
Is astaxanthin FDA approved? Yes, it is approved. FDA has previously allowed astaxanthin to be used at levels up to 7.8mg per daily serving. However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued permission for an increase in the daily serving for astaxanthin from 7.8 mg to 12 mg, following a successful petition by Cyanotech.
What is the FDA approved dose of astaxanthin? The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued permission for an increase in the daily serving for astaxanthin from 7.8 mg to 12 mg, following a successful petition by Cyanotech.
Does astaxanthin help with weight loss? Yes, astaxanthin in combination with exercise is even more effective in reducing weight because of astaxanthin’s high antioxidant capacity, protective effect during energy production in mitochondria and fat burning effect.
Does astaxanthin interact with other medications? Thus far, astaxanthin has not interacted negatively with medications when taken in low dosage amounts. However, astaxanthin can lower blood sugar levels and thus negatively effect blood sugar medications. We highly recommend that you speak with your medical professional prior to beginning consumption of this supplement to ensure they agree with the usage.
Is astaxanthin good for acne? There is no research showing that astaxanthin is good for acne. However, many people have claimed it helps to clear up acne.
Does salmon oil contain astaxanthin? Yes, salmon oil and salmon steak contain astaxanthin.
Does astaxanthin increase testosterone levels? Astaxanthin alone will not cause an increase in testosterone levels. However, there have been studies that show mixing astaxanthin with certain supplements could potentially increase testosterone. Saw palmetto is one such supplement that could potentially cause in increase in testosterone if you were to combine the use of that supplement with high doses of astaxanthin.
Is astaxanthin more powerful than glutathione? Research has shown that astaxanthin is the most powerful antioxidant at scavenging free radicals. Studies have shown that astaxanthin is 65 times more powerful than vitamin C at free radical scavenging, 54 times more powerful than beta-carotene, and 14 times more powerful than vitamin E.
Does astaxanthin cross the blood brain barrier? Yes, the chemical structure of astaxanthin allows it to cross the blood-brain barrier.
Does astaxanthin cause weight gain? No, in fact astaxanthin does the opposite. Natural astaxanthin has been shown to inhibit weight-gain and other markers linked with a high fat diet.
What is the correct dosage of astaxanthin? For daily use of astaxanthin, it is recommended that you use 4-10 mg depending on your purpose. However, if you have an intense lifestyle that includes workouts or excessive sun exposure you can take 12 mg doses for up to 6 months consistently. After the 6-months of use, it is recommended that you cycle down to smaller dosages for a time in order to protect your body from potential ill side effects that could accompany high-potency doses for extended periods of time. It is always best to remain within the lower dosage recommendations if you are able to.
Is astaxanthin good for your skin? Yes, research shows that astaxanthin is great for your skin – especially if you are an older adult. It helps to combat aging and wrinkles as you get older. A 2018 study published in Nutrients showed that nine weeks of supplementing with four milligrams of astaxanthin per day was able to significantly improve deterioration in skin cells due to ultraviolet light exposure (35).
How long does it take to see results from astaxanthin? It really depends on what you are trying to solve with astanxthin supplements. On average though, you can see results starting from 2-4 weeks of daily, consistent usage.
How is astaxanthin made? Astaxanthin is a blood-red pigment and is produced naturally in the freshwater microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis and the yeast fungus Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous (also known as Phaffia). When the algae is stressed by lack of nutrients, increased salinity, or excessive sunshine, it creates astaxanthin.
Is astaxanthin good for eye health? Yes, astaxanthin has long been shown to defend aging eyes against the threat of cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma.
Is astaxanthin good for your liver? There is no conclusive research to date that astaxanthin is good or bad for your liver. However preliminary data shows it may help reverse liver damage.
Is astaxanthin a vitamin? No astaxanthin is an antioxidant. Unlike other antioxidants, such as beta carotene, zeaxanthin, vitamin E, C, D and selenium, astaxanthin never becomes pro-oxidant in the body, making it extremely unique.
There are many carotenoids out there, but astaxanthin, in particular, seems to have a whole host of potential benefits. It may help with chronic inflammatory conditions, like cancer or diabetes, but it may also just help you protect your vision or your cognitive function as you age. Furthermore, it’s a valuable supplement for those who suffer from skin conditions in particular. It can even give you a boost the next time you decide to go for a particularly challenging workout.
What’s even better is that these many benefits come with very few reported side effects. What possible side effects there are, like a change in skin pigmentation, seem possible only at relatively high doses. That said, this red-hued, carotenoid powerhouse is only just beginning to get started. There’s still a lot of room for further research into exactly how astaxanthin combats inflammation, how it can be used as a potential anti-cancer treatment, and whether or not there are any side effects associated with heavy, long-term use.