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Astaxanthin is an orange-red pigment which is found in salmon, shrimp, krill, lobster, crab, and some types of algae. Astaxanthin is a type of carotenoid and is one of the most powerful antioxidants available in nature. It is thought to help with inflammation, brain and hearth health, physical performance and recovery, and possibly some of the effects of aging.

Recent scientific research indicates that Astaxanthin may have some of the following benefits:

1. Neuroprotective (1,3,4,5,7,8,9,10)
2. Improve memory (
3. Improve memory (
4. Increase muscular endurance (
5. Improve muscle strength and performance (
6. May improve exercise recovery (
7. May improve triglyceride and HDL levels (
8. May protect against osteoarthritis (

Scientific Studies Cited

1. Possible Neuroprotector

“Astaxanthin has been observed to slow down brain aging by increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels in the brain, attenuating oxidative damage to lipids, protein, and DNA and protecting mitochondrial functions. “

Sorrenti V, Davinelli S, Scapagnini G, Willcox BJ, Allsopp RC, Willcox DC. Astaxanthin as a Putative Geroprotector: Molecular Basis and Focus on Brain Aging. Mar Drugs. 2020 Jul 5;18(7):351. doi: 10.3390/md18070351. PMID: 32635607; PMCID: PMC7401246.


2. May improve cognitive function

“In conclusion, the results suggested that astaxanthin-rich Haematococcus pluvialis extract improves cognitive function in the healthy aged individuals.”

Katagiri M, Satoh A, Tsuji S, Shirasawa T. Effects of astaxanthin-rich Haematococcus pluvialis extract on cognitive function: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2012 Sep;51(2):102-7. doi: 10.3164/jcbn.D-11-00017. Epub 2012 Mar 30. PMID: 22962526; PMCID: PMC3432818.


3. May be neuroprotective

“Astaxanthin confers multiple neuroprotective effects in various experimental models of neurological diseases, which includes both acute injuries and chronic neurodegenerative disorders. The protective effects of astaxanthin are associated with its anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic effects.“

Wu H, Niu H, Shao A, Wu C, Dixon BJ, Zhang J, Yang S, Wang Y. Astaxanthin as a Potential Neuroprotective Agent for Neurological Diseases. Mar Drugs. 2015 Sep 11;13(9):5750-66. doi: 10.3390/md13095750. PMID: 26378548; PMCID: PMC4584352.


4. Neuroprotective against cognitive impairment from chemotherapeutics.

“In conclusion, these findings suggest that AST offers neuroprotection against DOX-induced cognitive impairment which could be explained at least partly by its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiapoptotic effects.”

El-Agamy SE, Abdel-Aziz AK, Wahdan S, Esmat A, Azab SS. Astaxanthin Ameliorates Doxorubicin-Induced Cognitive Impairment (Chemobrain) in Experimental Rat Model: Impact on Oxidative, Inflammatory, and Apoptotic Machineries. Mol Neurobiol. 2018 Jul;55(7):5727-5740. Doi: 10.1007/s12035-017-0797-7. Epub 2017 Oct 16. PMID: 29039023.


5. Enhances hippocampal neurogenesis and spatial memory in mouse model.

“Conclusion: ASX supplementation enhanced AHN and spatial memory, and a DNA microarray approach provided, for the first time, novel molecular insights into ASX action.”

Yook JS, Okamoto M, Rakwal R, Shibato J, Lee MC, Matsui T, Chang H, Cho JY, Soya H. Astaxanthin supplementation enhances adult hippocampal neurogenesis and spatial memory in mice. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2016 Mar;60(3):589-99. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201500634. Epub 2016 Jan 7. PMID: 26643409.


6. May improve memory

“The results demonstrated that taking an astaxanthin-tocotrienols combination improves the composite memory and verbal memory of Japanese adults who feel a memory

Sekikawa T, Kizawa Y, Li Y, Takara T. Cognitive function improvement with astaxanthin and tocotrienol intake: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2020 Nov;67(3):307-316. doi: 10.3164/jcbn.19-116. Epub 2020 Jun 19. PMID: 33293773; PMCID: PMC7705074.


7. May reduce oxidative stress and inflammation and enhance immune response

“Therefore, dietary astaxanthin decreases a DNA damage biomarker and acute phase protein, and enhances immune response in young healthy females.”

Park JS, Chyun JH, Kim YK, Line LL, Chew BP. Astaxanthin decreased oxidative stress and inflammation and enhanced immune response in humans. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2010 Mar 5;7:18. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-7-18. PMID: 20205737; PMCID: PMC2845588.


8. May counteract excitotoxicity

“We suggest that, by preventing the noxious mROS and Ca2+ increases that occur under excitotoxic conditions, ASX could be useful as a therapeutic agent in neurodegenerative pathologies that involve alterations in Ca2+ homeostasis and ROS generation.”

García F, Lobos P, Ponce A, Cataldo K, Meza D, Farías P, Estay C, Oyarzun-Ampuero F, Herrera-Molina R, Paula-Lima A, Ardiles ÁO, Hidalgo C, Adasme T, Muñoz P. Astaxanthin Counteracts Excitotoxicity and Reduces the Ensuing Increases in Calcium Levels and Mitochondrial Reactive Oxygen Species Generation. Mar Drugs. 2020 Jun 26;18(6):335. doi: 10.3390/md18060335. PMID: 32604880; PMCID: PMC7345213.


9. May be neuroprotective against glutamate-induced cytotoxicity

“Our results provide the first evidence that ATX can protect glutamate-induced cytotoxicity in HT22 via attenuating caspase activation and mitochondrial dysfunction and modulating the Akt/GSK-3β signaling, indicating ATX may be useful for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders such as AD.”

Wen X, Huang A, Hu J, Zhong Z, Liu Y, Li Z, Pan X, Liu Z. Neuroprotective effect of astaxanthin against glutamate-induced cytotoxicity in HT22 cells: Involvement of the Akt/GSK-3β pathway. Neuroscience. 2015 Sep 10;303:558-68. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2015.07.034. Epub 2015 Jul 18. PMID: 26197224.


10. May boost neuroprotection when combined with Huperzine-A

“Pretreatment with HupA and AXT decreased toxic damage produced by Aβ25–35. These data indicated that combining an antioxidant with a cholinesterase inhibitor increases the degree of neuroprotection; with future investigation this could be a potential therapy used to decrease neurotoxicity in the brain.”

Yang X, Wei HM, Hu GY, Zhao J, Long LN, Li CJ, Zhao ZJ, Zeng HK, Nie H. Combining antioxidant astaxantin and cholinesterase inhibitor huperzine A boosts neuroprotection. Mol Med Rep. 2020 Mar;21(3):1043-1050. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2020.10920. Epub 2020 Jan 9. PMID: 31922239; PMCID: PMC7003047.


11. Improved muscle endurance in elderly

“Results: ET led to improved specific muscle endurance only in the AX group…”

Liu SZ, Valencia AP, VanDoren MP, Shankland EG, Roshanravan B, Conley KE, Marcinek DJ. Astaxanthin supplementation enhances metabolic adaptation with aerobic training in the elderly. Physiol Rep. 2021 Jun;9(11):e14887. doi: 10.14814/phy2.14887. PMID: 34110707; PMCID: PMC8191397.


12. Part of formulation which increased strength, endurance and mobility in elderly.

“Conclusions: The AX formulation improved muscle strength and CSA in healthy elderly in addition to the elevation in endurance and walking distance found with exercise training alone. Thus, the AX formulation in combination with a functional training programme uniquely improved muscle strength, endurance, and mobility in the elderly.”

Liu SZ, Ali AS, Campbell MD, Kilroy K, Shankland EG, Roshanravan B, Marcinek DJ, Conley KE. Building strength, endurance, and mobility using an astaxanthin formulation with functional training in elderly. J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle. 2018 Oct;9(5):826-833. doi: 10.1002/jcsm.12318. Epub 2018 Sep 26. PMID: 30259703; PMCID: PMC6204600.


13. Improves exercise recovery

“Conclusions: Astaxanthin supplementation improved exercise recovery. “

Fleischmann C, Horowitz M, Yanovich R, Raz H, Heled Y. Asthaxanthin Improves Aerobic Exercise Recovery Without Affecting Heat Tolerance in Humans. Front Sports Act Living. 2019 Sep 4;1:17. doi: 10.3389/fspor.2019.00017. PMID: 33344941; PMCID: PMC7739736.


14. Enhances metabolic adaptation

“Results: ET led to improved specific muscle endurance only in the AX group “

Liu SZ, Valencia AP, VanDoren MP, Shankland EG, Roshanravan B, Conley KE, Marcinek DJ. Astaxanthin supplementation enhances metabolic adaptation with aerobic training in the elderly. Physiol Rep. 2021 Jun;9(11):e14887. doi: 10.14814/phy2.14887. PMID: 34110707; PMCID: PMC8191397.


15. Improved cycling time trial performance and fat oxidation

“Conclusions: Supplementation with 12 mg⋅day-1 astaxanthin for 7 days provided an ergogenic benefit to 40 km cycling time trial performance in recreationally trained male cyclists and enhanced whole-body fat oxidation rates in the final stages of this endurance-type performance event.”

Brown DR, Warner AR, Deb SK, Gough LA, Sparks SA, McNaughton LR. The effect of astaxanthin supplementation on performance and fat oxidation during a 40 km cycling time trial. J Sci Med Sport. 2021 Jan;24(1):92-97. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2020.06.017. Epub 2020 Jul 3. PMID: 32660833.


16. Improved cycling time trial performance and power output

“Overall, we observed significant improvements in 20 km TT performance in the AST group…The AST group significantly increased power output…, while the PLA group did not…”

Earnest CP, Lupo M, White KM, Church TS. Effect of astaxanthin on cycling time trial performance. Int J Sports Med. 2011 Nov;32(11):882-8. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1280779. Epub 2011 Oct 7. PMID: 21984399.


17. Does not improve cycling time trial performance

“Conclusion: Prolonged astaxanthin supplementation does not augment antioxidant capacity, increase fat oxidative capacity, or improve time trial performance in trained cyclists.”

Res PT, Cermak NM, Stinkens R, Tollakson TJ, Haenen GR, Bast A, Van Loon LJ. Astaxanthin supplementation does not augment fat use or improve endurance performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2013 Jun;45(6):1158-65. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31827fddc4. PMID: 23274592.


18. May improve triglyceride and HDL levels

“Conclusions: This first-ever randomized, placebo-controlled human study suggests that astaxanthin consumption ameliorates triglyceride and HDL-cholesterol in correlation with increased adiponectin in humans.”

Yoshida H, Yanai H, Ito K, Tomono Y, Koikeda T, Tsukahara H, Tada N. Administration of natural astaxanthin increases serum HDL-cholesterol and adiponectin in subjects with mild hyperlipidemia. Atherosclerosis. 2010 Apr;209(2):520-3. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2009.10.012. Epub 2009 Oct 14. PMID: 19892350.


19. May protect against osteoarthritis

“Conclusions: Ast could protect against osteoarthritis via the Nrf2 signaling, suggesting Ast might be a potential therapeutic supplement for OA treatment.”

Sun K, Luo J, Jing X, Guo J, Yao X, Hao X, Ye Y, Liang S, Lin J, Wang G, Guo F. Astaxanthin protects against osteoarthritis via Nrf2: a guardian of cartilage homeostasis. Aging (Albany NY). 2019 Nov 26;11(22):10513-10531. doi: 10.18632/aging.102474. Epub 2019 Nov 26. PMID: 31772142; PMCID: PMC6914430.