Good article by Dr. Mercola
Sunscreen and Wrinkle Prevention
* Sunscreen in a pill?
* Prevention of wrinkles, dry skin, age spots and freckles?
* Reversing the visible signs of aging?
If you think checking “all of the above” seems too good to be true, you’re not alone.
But there just happens to be a natural compound that clinical studies are suggesting does ALL of the above—without a hefty price tag or side effects. This is a little miracle your plastic surgeon won’t want you to hear about.
It’s a relatively unknown carotenoid called astaxanthin, which is now believed to be the most potent antioxidant nature has to offer.
Scientists long ago discovered that a class of naturally occurring pigments called carotenoids held powerful antioxidant properties that are crucial for your health. Carotenoids are the compounds that give foods their vibrant colors—from green grasses to red beets, to the spectacular yellows and oranges of your bell peppers.
There are more than 700 naturally occurring carotenoids, but most people are familiar with only a few. Right now, you probably have about ten different carotenoids circulating through your bloodstream.
As a source of antioxidants and vitamin A, carotenoids are critical to the photosynthetic process and protect a plant or organism from damage by light and oxygen. By consuming plants or organisms that contain these pigments, you gain a similar protective benefit.
Astaxanthin has recently jumped to the front of the line in terms of its status as a “supernutrient,” becoming the focus of a large and growing number of peer-reviewed scientific studies.
One of the benefits of astaxanthin that has piqued the interest of researchers is its ability to help protect your skin from the sun, reducing the signs of aging.
However, ataxanthin’s benefits to your health are more than skin deep—in fact, so many benefits that I’ve had to write several articles just to cover the jaw-dropping activities of this amazing nutrient.
Astaxanthin is in a League of Its Own
Astaxanthin is produced only by the microalgae Haematoccous pluvialis when its water supply dries up, forcing it to protect itself from ultraviolet radiation. It’s the algae’s survival mechanism—astaxanthin serves as a “force field” to protect the algae from lack of nutrition and/or intense sunlight.
It is this “radiation shield” that underlies how astaxanthin can help protect you from similar radiation.
Many carotenoids are easily obtainable through a good diet rich in fresh organic produce. However, this powerful carotenoid is harder to come by. There are only two main sources of astaxanthin—the microalgae that produce it, and the sea creatures that consume the algae (such as salmon, shellfish, and krill).
Astaxanthin is the reason salmon have the strength and endurance to swim up rivers and waterfalls for days on end—their diets are high in this pigment, which concentrates in their muscles and makes them one of the “kings of endurance” of the animal kingdom.
This pigment is the most commonly occurring red carotenoid in marine and aquatic animals and is what gives salmon and pink flamingos their characteristic pink color. Most people don’t realize that baby flamingos are actually white and don’t turn pink until they receive astaxanthin, primarily from shrimp and algae.
Astaxanthin is leaps and bounds more powerful than beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol, lycopene and lutein, other members of its chemical family. It exhibits VERY STRONG free radical scavenging activity and protects your cells, organs and body tissues from oxidative damage.
Astaxanthin’s unique “antioxidative artillery” provides for an impressive array of health benefits, including improving cardiovascular health, stabilizing blood sugar, boosting your immune system, fighting cancer, reducing inflammation, improving eye health—and even improving your athletic abilities.