Last update: May 14, 2024

Astaxanthin: The Complete Guide

Explore the amazing health benefits of Astaxanthin. Learn about its antioxidant power, skin-renewing qualities, exercise support, and how it can contribute to overall health.

Stephanie Wright

By Stephanie Wright, RN, BSN

Edited by Dr. Dimitar Marinov, MD, MBA, PhD

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Key takeaways

  • Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant that supports the protection of your body's cells from damage caused by free radicals
  • It may support skin health when applied topically by promoting elasticity and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • It’s been found to support physical performance and recovery during exercise
  • Astaxanthin comes in many forms, like capsules, gummies, liquids, powders, and tablets

    What is astaxanthin?

    Astaxanthin is a natural carotenoid pigment found in marine organisms such as microalgae, salmon, and shrimp. Known for its vibrant red hue, Astaxanthin is commonly associated with potent antioxidant properties. Its consumption is often linked to potential benefits such as eye health, skin health, exercise support, and overall well-being [1].

    While astaxanthin is not considered an essential nutrient for basic bodily functions, it is recognized as a powerful antioxidant [1].

    Does your body produce astaxanthin?

    No, your body can’t produce astaxanthin naturally. While the body produces certain antioxidants, astaxanthin is primarily obtained through diet and is commonly found in marine organisms like microalgae, salmon, and shrimp [1].

    Astaxanthin in space

    NASA is exploring astaxanthin as a dietary supplement for astronauts due to its ability to protect against radiation exposure, prevent eye damage, reduce cardiovascular stress, and minimize bone loss.

    How does astaxanthin work in your body?

    What are some benefits of astaxanthin?

    Astaxanthin has many properties that make it great for maintaining good health. Here are a few benefits of adding astaxanthin to your supplement routine.

    1. Supports skin health

      Astaxanthin has been linked to promoting skin health, potentially reducing the appearance of wrinkles and age spots when used topically and orally. The antioxidant properties contribute to maintaining skin moisture and overall well-being [1].

    2. Boosts endurance and exercise

      Some studies suggest astaxanthin may enhance endurance by reducing oxidative stress, potentially aiding in exercise performance [3].

    3. Supports heart health

      Research shows potential cardiovascular benefits of astaxanthin, including its effects on improved contractility and ventricle function [4].

    4. Contributes to joint health

      Astaxanthin may help alleviating joint pain and inflammation, particularly in conditions like arthritis. While results are mixed, some studies suggest potential benefits in reducing arthritis-related symptoms [5].

    5. Supports fertility

      A study indicated potential positive effects on fertility, showing there may be potential improvements in pregnancy outcomes with astaxanthin supplementation [6].

    6. Enhances antioxidant activity

      Astaxanthin's primary claim lies in its antioxidant properties, supporting improved blood flow, reduced oxidative stress, and high antioxidant activity against free radicals [7].

    Sources of astaxanthin

    Astaxanthin is an antioxidant that gives pink and red hues to many kinds of seafood. It is revered for its numerous health benefits, including enhanced skin health, improved joint health, and better cardiovascular function. The most natural way to increase your astaxanthin intake is through dietary sources, predominantly fish and seafood. Below is a detailed list of astaxanthin-rich foods:

    Is food intake always the best?

    Obtaining astaxanthin from food is generally recommended. However, in cases of significant deficiency, dietary restrictions, or certain health conditions, supplements may be necessary.

    Astaxanthin supplement formulations

    Delivery methods

    Astaxanthin supplements come in various delivery methods, each offering its own set of benefits and ways of consumption. Here's a brief overview of the different delivery methods:

    Choose a method that fits your routine

    Do not overlook the delivery method. Astaxanthin supplements come in tablets, capsules, soft gel, chewable, powders, and liquid forms—choose the one that best fits your daily routine to stay consistent.

    What to look for in astaxanthin supplements

    When selecting a supplement, several key factors must be considered to ensure you choose a high-quality product that effectively supports your health goals and overall well-being.

    • Dosage and potency

      The dosage of astaxanthin in supplements varies, so it's important to choose one that aligns with your specific needs. This includes considering your age, gender, and health status, like pregnancy or existing deficiencies. The astaxanthin formulation can impact its potency and bioavailability, which affects how effectively your body can absorb and use it.

    • Quantity and delivery method

      The delivery method is crucial. Astaxanthin supplements come in various forms, including tablets, capsules, powders, chewables, and liquid forms. Your choice may depend on factors like ease of swallowing, convenience for traveling, or personal preference regarding taste and texture. Also, evaluate the quantity of astaxanthin to determine how long it will last based on your daily requirements.

    • Quality and manufacturing

      Quality is paramount when selecting astaxanthin supplements. Look for products manufactured under strict quality control guidelines and those that have undergone third-party testing for purity and label accuracy. Certifications from recognized bodies can be a reliable indicator of a high-quality product. Additionally, consider the manufacturer's reputation and transparency in their production processes.


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    How and when should you take astaxanthin for maximum absorption?

    To get the most out of your astaxanthin supplement, it's crucial to consider the timing and method of consumption. The following dos and don'ts offer guidance on optimizing absorption, efficiently supporting your health and wellness, and minimizing potential discomfort.


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      Take it with meals containing healthy fats for better absorption.

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      Be consistent with daily intake as part of your routine.

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      Swallow with water for smooth ingestion.

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      Consult a healthcare provider before combining it with other medications.


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      Take the supplement on an empty stomach to optimize absorption.

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      Avoid chewing the supplement. It should be taken whole.

    Who should take astaxanthin?

    Taking astaxanthin supplements has its potential benefits, but it may not be for everyone.

    Recommended dosage

    Astaxanthin offers numerous health benefits and taking the appropriate dosage is crucial for optimizing well-being across different stages of life. Here are the suggested dosages for astaxanthin for various age groups.

    Side effects of excessive astaxanthin consumption

    While astaxanthin supplements are generally safe when taken within recommended limits, excessive intake can have adverse effects:

    • Skin Discoloration: High doses may cause a harmless but noticeable orange or reddish tint to the skin.
    • Stomach Issues Distress: In some cases, excessive intake may lead to digestive issues such as increased bowel movements and red stool color.

    Always consult your doctor

    If you're experiencing side effects, consult your healthcare provider. They may recommend a different astaxanthin formulation or adjust your dosage. Balancing your astaxanthin needs with any discomfort is crucial and should not be overlooked.

    Health made easy: your go-to resource for essential vitamins and supplements

    Frequently asked questions about astaxanthin (FAQ)

    Our library of expert-authored articles covers just about every question you might have about vitamins, minerals, and supplements — along with some you might not have known you had.

    Final thoughts

    In summary, astaxanthin has health benefits that may help improve overall well-being. It's a powerful antioxidant from marine sources, and it shows promise in supporting skin health, fighting oxidative stress, and boosting exercise endurance. Astaxanthin is more than just a colorful substance in marine life; it can be a useful supplement for your health. While scientists are still studying astaxanthin, adding it to your diet or taking it as a supplement could be a good way to support your health. Consider astaxanthin a helpful option as you look after your well-being.

    Sources and references

    1. Astaxanthin in Skin Health, Repair, and Disease: A Comprehensive Review - PMC
    2. Astaxanthin as a Novel Mitochondrial Regulator: A New Aspect of Carotenoids, beyond Antioxidants - PMC
    3. Impacts of Astaxanthin Supplementation on Walking Capacity by Reducing Oxidative Stress in Nursing Home Residents
    4. Effects of 3-Month Astaxanthin Supplementation on Cardiac Function in Heart Failure Patients with Left Ventricular Systolic Dysfunction-A Pilot Study
    5. Astaxanthin protects against osteoarthritis via Nrf2: a guardian of cartilage homeostasis - PMC
    6. Astaxanthin ameliorates inflammation, oxidative stress, and reproductive outcomes in endometriosis patients undergoing assisted reproduction: A randomized, triple-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial
    7. Preparation, characterization and antioxidant activity of astaxanthin esters with different molecular structures


    Stephanie Wright avatar

    Stephanie brings over 13 years of diverse nursing experience to the table, having honed her expertise in critical care, mental health, and utilization management. Her journey as a registered nurse across these various healthcare sectors underscores her adaptability and deep commitment to patient care.

    Fact checker

    Dr. Dimitar Marinov avatar

    Dr. Marinov has years of experience in scientific research and preventive and clinical medicine. His publications in peer-reviewed journals are on nutritional status, physical activity, and musculoskeletal disorders among adolescents.

    At VitaRx, we're not just passionate about our work — we take immense pride in it. Our dedicated team of writers diligently follows strict editorial standards, ensuring that every piece of content we publish is accurate, current, and highly valuable. We don't just strive for quality; we aim for excellence.

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