Astaxanthin: Why I Take It Daily (Especially In Summer!)

Why I take Astaxanthin daily especially during the summer

My go-to summer supplement, Astaxanthin, is often called nature’s strongest antioxidant. It is a potent naturally occurring carotenoid found in foods like salmon and krill.

Astaxanthin is well-studied and has many benefits, but I take it for one very noticeable benefit: sun protection. My results have been drastic. Before supplementing, I could burn in 15 minutes in bright sun. Now, I can handle moderate (and healthy) sun exposure without burning at all. Thanks to by Vitamin D receptor (VDR) mutations (found on my 23 and me test), and my doctor’s recommendations, I am supposed to get moderate sun exposure and this makes it easier and safer.

What is Astaxanthin?

Benefits of AstaxanthinAstaxanthin (pronounced asta-zan-thin) is carotenoid and one of the most potent antioxidants available. It has been widely studied and is beneficial in may different ways. The Linus Pauling Institute explains that:

“Carotenoids are a class of more than 600 naturally occurring pigments synthesized by plants, algae, and photosynthetic bacteria. These richly colored molecules are the sources of the yellow, orange, and red colors of many plants”

Astaxanthin in particular is one of the most powerful and most studied carotenoids. It is produced when a certain species of algae dries up. Basically, the algae produces this carotenoid to protect itself from the effects of losing its food/nutrient supply and to stay alive.

Natural sources include this algae and animals that consume it including krill and salmon. It is found in very high amounts in the muscles of salmon (it is the carotenoid that gives salmon its bright red color) and is said to be responsible for the endurance they need to swim upstream. Interesting fact, it is the higher Astaxanthin content that gives wild caught salmon a brighter red color than their farmed counterparts.

Another important distinction:

Unlike many antioxidants, Astaxanthin does not turn pro-oxidant (harmful to the body) at any point in the digestive process.

Astaxanthin vs. Inflammation

Considered 6,000 times as potent as Vitamin C, this antioxidant packs a powerful punch. Like any antioxidant, it has the ability to help reduce inflammation, but it has several unique properties that make it especially beneficial:

  • Because it is 6000 times more powerful than Vitamin C, giving it tremendous ability to reduce free radicals.
  • It is able to cross the blood/brain barrier and the blood/retina barrier so that it can benefit the brain and eyes (many antioxidants do not have this ability.
  • Mounting evidence suggests that it may reduce C Reactive Protein (CRP) and tumor necrosis factor alpha.

Astaxanthin for Endurance

This supplement is now used by many athletes, especially endurance athletes. Exercise, by its nature, produces free radicals. As an antioxidant, Astaxanthin reduces them, but its effect goes beyond just that.

Astaxanthin is found in the highest amounts in the muscles of salmon. Scientists theorize that this bright red antioxidant is at least partially responsible for the extreme endurance of salmon as they swim upstream.

The same properties it has that make it beneficial to salmon swimming upstream are beneficial to humans looking to accomplish feats of endurance. It is beneficial for athletes because it:

  • May reduce free radicals to speed recovery time
  • Reduces production and storage of lactic acid- this reduces muscle soreness and recovery time
  • Supports mitochondria function- when muscles are used for exercise (especially intense exercise) the mitochondria produce more energy but this has the side effect of producing free radicals. It helps reduce the free radicals and supports more efficient mitochondria function

Astaxanthin and the Sun

One of the main reasons I started taking Astaxanthin is for its sun-protective benefits. It works as an internal sunscreen of sorts since it reduces inflammation and helps reduce UVA damage to skin cells. I am naturally fair skinned and this supplement allows me to get healthy sun exposure without burning or getting freckles.

A sunburn is a type of inflammation and if there are already sources of inflammation in the body, it is more likely to burn. I’ve found that since taking this regularly and eating a naturally low-inflammatory diet, I have lower levels of inflammation in general (per lab results) and tan more easily without burning.

Astaxanthin’s unique property that makes it an added protection agains the sun is found in the way it is created. The algae Haematococcus pluvialis creates Astaxanthin as a protection from the heat and sun to save itself when it loses its water supply. The pigment works as a sunscreen of sorts that protects the algae from the sun. In this way, Astaxanthin works as an internal sunscreen for humans and gives skin a natural (very subtle) red/brown pigment.

How I Use It

I’ve been using this supplement daily for several years, especially in warmer months when I’m outside. You can read more about how I use it for sun protection here but I typically take one 12 mg capsule of the BioAstin brand (available here)each day, usually in the morning and with a meal or drink that contains fat (often that is just my healthy coffee or tea).

I consider Astaxanthin a food, not a supplement, so like cod liver oil, I consume it as part of a healthy diet.

Foods like salmon are a good natural source, though it would be very difficult to get large amounts from food. There are also mercury concerns with consuming really large levels of seafood, though I do make wild-caught high-antioxidant salmon a regular part of our diet (we get ours here).

Sources & Additional Reading:

Ikeuchi M, Koyama T, Takahashi J, Yazawa K. Effects of astaxanthin supplementation on exercise-induced fatigue in mice. Biol Pharm Bull. 2006 Oct;29(10):2106-10.

Gene A. Spiller, PhD, Antonella Dewell, MS, RD, Sally Chaves, RN, Zaga Rakidzich. Effect of daily use natural astaxanthin on C-reactive protein. Health Research & Studies Center, Los Altos, CA. Study Report, January, 2006.

Suganuma K, Nakajima H, Ohtsuki M, Imokawa G. Astaxanthin attenuates the UVA-induced up-regulation of matrix- metalloproteinase-1 and skin fibroblast elastase in human dermal fibroblasts. J Dermatol Sci. 2010 May;58(2):136-42. Epub 2010 Feb 18.

Ever taken Astaxanthin? Did you notice any benefits? Share below!

why Astaxanthin is one of my summer supplements

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Reader Comments

  1. Hi Katie, Do you take this during pregnancy? If so, do you think it helped with energy?

    • Always check with a doc before taking anything during pregnancy, but I felt comfortable taking it since it was food based and helped reduce inflammation and free radicals, both which can be dangerous during pregnancy

      • Just a little word of warning. I do not mean to be inflammatory but feeling safe simply because something is “food based’ is not wise. It’s like saying organic is good. Arsenic is organic. Formaldehyde is organic. I don’t want them in my daily diet! Even 100% healthy food can be reactive (allergies?) to many people, and then let’s think of some common, well-known “food-based” substances–White table sugar. Pasteurized processed cheese “food.” The list is endless. Those are food based, they are foods but certainly not things one would recommend a pregnant or otherwise person would want to consume much.
        Secondly, I’m not sure what “food based” actually means in this context. Isn’t whether something is a “Food” or not a judgment call, that is “food” is more of a subjective definition than an objective one? Food in some countries is chocolate covered ants and bugs, however, bugs are not food in my little world. So far. There are other cultures (no pun intended) that find any cheese type product rancid leftover residue and would never consider this a “food.” This said, I fully support your choice for trying to consume healthy and I think astaxanthin is a good, overall supplement. I encourage you to do your own research.

        • That’s why it says ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR FIRST. Your incredibly long post is not helpful.

          • FYI most traditional doctors actually know nothing about nutrition and prevention. 5 of my best friends are ER doctors and they’ll tell you that they are never trained on those subjects to any kind of extent in Med school. So – ask your ND / nutritionist / functional Med Doctor and you’ll probably be in a better position to be more informed.

  2. Have you adjusted the amount that you take when you are are/not nursing or pregnant?

  3. Can this you take during pregnancy?

  4. Very timely post! I just started researching this supplement a few weeks ago and am planning to start taking it as soon as my order arrives. Thank you for all the wonderful information you share!

  5. Hi, I’m 30 weeks pregnant and wondering if it’s safe to take while pregnant? Thanks!

  6. Do you give this to your kids?

  7. Super interesting! I usually shy away from pills of any sort, preferring to get everything I can out of the food I eat. But this has me curious as it’s not something that I could ever find anywhere else. Now, to find it in France, that’ll be the challenge!

  8. Great timing– I have been planning to add astaxanthin to my regimen but have been putting different brands into and out of my amazon cart for the past week, and am glad to have a recommendation to trust!
    I see in a previous article you wrote that you don’t give astaxanthin supplements to your kids. Has that changed? Or is there any particular reason why I shouldn’t? I haven’t come across any good reason not to, for those who can swallow pills…

    • Nice article well done !!
      I cured stage IV Metasticized Prostate cancer 9 1/2 years ago NO chemo or radiation.
      PSA is 0.4 in 2016. On an Organic diet and recently been informed by several highly acclaimed MD specialists that on MRI, Cat Scans and blood tests, that reveal that I appear around age 60. I follow many Venture capital advances in Longevity THAT I have Researched THOROUGHLY as Marketing is often exaggerated . I Take Certain herbs and some oriental supplements.

      I am near 80 (60 according to recent Cat Scans-MRI’s by several MD’s) Play tennis 2-3X weekly and walk daily .

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      The due diligence-expansion of my awareness of our amazing Immune Systems & the extraordinary capabilities that we ALL have, Foods, Alkalinity, exercise, and amazing recent VC Longevity/Health advances, I NOW have the Information to resolve: obesity, asthma, hypertension, stroke, heart attacks, gall stones, diverticulitis, osteoporosis, allergies, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, & MOST cancers.
      Don Porter comment: There’s What we know we know. What we don’t know, PROBLEM – What we don’t even know that we don’t know !
      Dr. Terry Wahls beats MS: Her body ravaged by 2ndary progressive Multiple Sclerosis, Dr. Terry Wahls spent nearly 4 years dependent upon a tilt-recline wheelchair NOW rides horses walks fine.

  9. I had a horrible experience with it. I’m very regular when it comes to my period and it made me a week late and made me break out. I did some research and all I could find is that it can cause hormonal changes but no specifics. It seems like it has not been researched well at all. I was excited about this supplement too but I would be careful about taking it during pregnancy.

  10. Is this safe to take while nursing?

  11. Yes, Yes Yes~!! I take a Krill/HA/Astaxanthin blend once a day and love the stuff~! It’s the one thing that really works for me in eliminating a little tendon/joint discomfort. The stuff works!!! I had no idea about the sun protection qualities, I was just desperate for some relief for exercise induced inflammation in a troublesome spot that I have. I tried many products before finding this one and I can honestly say that within 12 hrs of taking one pill—-pain gone. I’m hooked. It was my miracle cure. It’s incredible.

    • Vickie,

      Do you mind sharing what brand of krill/HA/Astaxanthin you take?

      • I don’t mind at all, but I haven’t done my research, like Katie does, on this particular brand; all I know is that it’s the one brand that really works for me. The reason I got it was because I overheard a couple doctors talking about it (long story short) when I was out shopping one day. They were standing in the aisle in front of the product and discussing its benefits and sharing some success stories they had seen with some of their patients with each other. They did not know I was listening. 🙂 At that point, I thought I’d give it a try—I was just looking for some relief!! It’s one of the Schiff MegaRed formulas, but it has to be a specific one: MegaRed Joint Care. Just 1 small softgel daily. They make several different kinds so you have to look carefully, but this specific one is the one (Joint Care) that works for me. On the label, it shows 353mg of Proprietary blend of Krill Oil, Hyaluronic Acid, and Astaxanthin. I don’t know exactly how much Astaxanthin is actually in it, but it works.
        I was thinking, though, that I would try Katie’s Astaxanthin suggestion when I finish my MegaRed bottle, just to see if there is a difference. 🙂 Hope that helps~!

        • That sounds like a good blend, but I don’t like the other ingredients in there unfortunately (color dyes are really bad for you and titanium dioxide has toxic effects on the brain). Dr. Mercola has krill oil and astaxanthin supplements that look more pure. Just an idea. 🙂 I think Dr. Josh Axe has some good supplements as well, not sure if he has krill oil.

          • I agree on avoiding food dyes. I order kirll oil and astaxanthin from here: https://wellnessmama.com/go/radiant-life/ and they are really high quality without the dyes. Mercola’s seem ok too, but I would personally not ever use or take anything from Josh Axe as I am not a fan of his products or policies.

  12. I’ve not heard of this supplement but as a very fair skinned mama, I’m very open to giving this a try. Do you tend to feel this is a supplement you can give children? I’m thinking in terms of my nearly 15 year old daughter who is also fair skinned but not always great about staying in the shade when she’s out of my sphere of influence.

    • I’d ask a doc. I personally would feel comfortable with my 15 year old taking it if I had one, but do your own research for sure

  13. Just looked up your daily routine and didn’t see this listed. Have you had to make other changes such as eliminating and discarding some natural supplements once you were diagnosed with Hashimoto’s? Would you mind linking the T3 and T4 supplements that you use so that we can research and ask our practitioners? Seems they only want to use Synthroid as the magic cure all. Thanks.

  14. I have been taking this for almost one year now and cannot emphasize how great I’ve felt.

    I took a trip to South America and initially started taking it for my skin since I fair skinned, but the benefits were tremendous! It gives me a boost of energy and helped me not burn but tan beautifully while under the scorching sun for a month. This is coming from someone who always burns.

    I highly recommend this!

  15. I have taken it initially for sun protection, and definitely noticed benefits for endurance activities. I have done some long distance bicycle touring, with days of riding over 100km loaded with bags, and felt great all day. I am about to ride 1330km around Iceland non-stop in the Wowair Cyclothon, and your article has reminded me to get back on Astaxanthan! (And try chia seeds!) Thanks

  16. Can Astaxanthin be given to the patients suffering from Psoriasis?

    • Yes,you can give

  17. Thank you so much for covering this supplement and for the attached booklet by the Hawaiian Bio Astin manufacturer! I read it through & learned a ton. I’m on my second bottle of this brand & have not yet experienced tremendous changes (that are obvious to me anyway) or any of the stated benefits yet I’m committed to taking it for at least 6 months. I also appreciate getting the link to your brand of Thyroid Rx as I’ve been on Synthroid for nearly 20 years! Definitely time for a change.
    I’m sure you are in the know but have you listened to Sean Croxton’s Underground Wellness.com Thyroid series?
    I love your site & share your blogs, recipes etc. daily, I cannot say Thank You enough!

      • Excellent!

  18. I’ve also been taking this for years and love it!

  19. I used to wonder about supplements, I mean the raw food “gurus” would say they were bad. But then I have heard of tons of research that was done in the 70s ans 80s that showed that wild animals get sick due to nutrient deficiencies and esp. mineral deficiencies. From this research many ilnesses in livestock such as MS have been cured with simple mineral supplementation but this hasn’t gotten through to the allopaths yet… they make too much money the way things are right now and there’s no incentive to do otherwise. The other thing that convinced me to take supplements was that I started to get early arthritis symptoms and other symptoms the last few years, even though I was eating “healthy.” Now I’m taking supplements (the right ones are ultra-important) and my back is getting better and better.

  20. Vickie- can u share what kind of krill/ha u use & how much?

  21. Interesting post! I am wondering about the safflower oil in the ingredients list though….not a fan of processed oils.

  22. I am very fair skinned an freckle/burn badly. You mentioned you don’t freckle on this suppliment, did you before you took it? And if so, did they fade or disappear over time? Also wanted to say how much I enjoy your email posts. Thank you and God bless!

    • Yes and yes! Freckles almost gone now 🙂 Although I think freckles are cute so I was happy either way

  23. Hi there

    I take Dr Mercolas brand and he recommends 1 tablet each day and his tablets have 4mg in them. Can you tell me why you take 12mg?

    • Higher potency and more pure formula. From my research, I am comfortable with taking 12 mg and feel better when I do

      • Do you take 12mg while pregnant or did you lower your dose? I’m 32 weeks and have been taking 4mg daily for years, but would like to increase it since it would make sense to help with pain associated with pregnancy and natural birth.

        • I’d check with a doc that close to delivery, especially to make sure a high dose wouldn’t thin blood at all…

      • What about the safflower oil in the formula you take?
        This is an oil to avoid correct? Have you found another brand since the original post that doesn’t contain safflower oil??–thanks!

  24. I’ve been taking it for about 3 months now. I do notice the benefits of sunburns as I’m very faired skinned and blonde although I haven’t been out in the sun all that much its rained a lot here and I have been so busy when its not raning! lol The one thing that I’ve noticed is it makes me a little sick feeling, that feeling is better when taken with food though. And I also take the fermented cod liver oil & butters as well!

  25. i’ve been taking this off and on for several years. i tried it during my 6th pregnancy but i wasn’t consistent and didn’t notice that it helped greatly. for my last pregnancy i took 4 or 5 mg and 10,000 units of vitamin D everyday. i found that it helped my skin greatly! i’d had terrible eczema in my 5th & 6th pregnancies and i did not have it in my 7th.
    recently i had slacked off on taking them. the last couple months, i’ve been having a flare of carpel tunnel that goes from finger tips to shoulder. i started taking these 2 supplements again everyday and my carpel tunnel is going away. until i read this article i’d not linked taking these supplements with the carpel tunnel. i’d only thought of them in relation to my skin. i began taking them again because my knuckles were all splitting . now i see that it is also helpful for the parts of me that are not skin! i’m really excited about it now. perhaps a larger dose would be helpful. i’ve only been taking 4 or 5 mg. i’m going to try doubling it and see what happens. maybe the carpel tunnel will disappear completely!

    Thank you for the great article!

    p.s. i wouldn’t recommend 10,000 units of vitamin D for everyone. my doctor has repeatedly tested my vitamin D and it is too low. he said this is a good dose for me while pregnant & nursing.

  26. Does anyone know how this may react with someone who actually has tan skin yet suffers from hyperpigmentation/melasma (dark spots that appear on face)? The sun actually triggers the dark spots to come out worse, but it is believed that it also has to do with hormones — and no I didn’t get during pregnancy but in my 40’s. Who knows, it just doesn’t go away. Anyways, I was hoping (heck “praying”) to find some natural cure, and am wondering how this would work.

    • Hey Katie- after reading this article, I had the thought of how nice it would be if you did an article on what supplements you take. AKA a ” Supplemental Closet” so to speak. OR if you dont want to do that, would you just help a sister out? Thank so much. I love your stuff!

    • I am wondering about this too – how is it for someone with melasma? Would it help?

  27. Hi there. I just started taking this supplement and I have a question. Since it’s a powerful antioxidant, do you think it would be alright to combine it with other powerful antioxidants? I wanted to start taking a Grape Seed supplement and I don’t know if these two supplements would be too much on my system. Thanks!

  28. Do you have a liquid lotion recipe without lanolin? Thank you!

  29. In your supplement post you mentioned you did not take it during pregnancy. Have you changed your mind and now take it during pregnancy/nursing? Thank you

  30. Can taking 12mg of the BioAstin Astaxanthin daily cause a yellowing of the skin? I have been taking it for a few months daily and have noticed a yellowing of my skin.

  31. I’m Confuse thought nitric oxide was a good thing, but your blog suggests that Astaxanthin suppress nitric oxide… can someone clarify that for me please.

  32. Do you know from which ocean the algae that produce the astaxanthin is harvested? I’m wondering about radiation contamination from Japan’s nuclear disaster, especially for pregnancy and kids.

  33. Hi Katie,

    I was wondering if there is a specific reason that you take this brand and what you would look for in determining if you would take a different brand? I would like to start taking this supplement with my husband, but $50 for less than a months supply for the both of us is pretty pricey. I would like to look into finding a cheaper brand, but want to know if there is anything specific I should avoid? I would love to get an answer from you, thanks!

    -Madison

    • This is the most potent source I’ve found and it doesn’t have any of the questionable additives that some brands have. This one is 12 mg and most others are 4 mg. Really, you could probably take this one every other day and it would still be a bigger dose than most cheaper brands.

    • Try ordering the BioAstin Astaxanthin from Vitacost or Swanson. It’s cheaper.

  34. Hi! I’ve noticed that several people asked about whether or not this will help with melasma but you haven’t answered. Does it? Love to know! Thanks!

    • The research seems to be divided. I’d try it carefully and talk to a doctor, but it might.

  35. I have a lot of hormonal problems and have been working diligently for a few months now (after getting my cycle back at 21 months pp) to try and straighten them out naturally. It looks like there could be some adverse affects on hormones, but I can’t tell if it would be a bad idea for me to supplement with this or not, considering my struggles. I don’t have access to a doctor of functional medicine, and therefore, no real trusted advice. (I live in Alabama…) Any thoughts?

    • I hope she replies back to you on this. I would love to add this to my daily supplements – especially with summer coming up – but am also trying to straighten out my hormones at 22 months PP – and don’t want to take anything that could mess things up for me!

      • Let me start off with saying I am a ‘burner’, always have been.
        I started using the BioAstin Astaxanthin last February. I started with 4 mg and had worked my way up to 8 mg by April. I then increased to 12 mg by the end of May and have stayed at 12 mg since then.
        I can say with all honesty I had one burn and that was on my shoulders and upper back at the very beginning of the season when the Astaxanthin was still building up in my body. Since then, after a long time in the sun that would normally cook me like a lobster, I had noticed but a handful of times when my skin took on a pink hue. I immediately got out from under the direct sun. There was no actual blistering burn.
        I did tan well this year, even in places like the tops of my feet that normally don’t pick up color very well.
        I’m curious what next summer will bring after a whole year and winter on the 12 mg before sun exposure. Time will tell.

  36. Hi Katie, I have been taking the same supplement BioAstin for a couple of years now and people always ask me why I look tan. Has it changed your skin color? I was wondering if you give it to your kids. I wanted to give it to my 7 and 13 year old but didn’t know at what dosage. Thanks!

  37. I just bought the Astaxanthin from the NOW brand online, unfortunately it contains carrageenan and corn starch. As it was expensive we will consume it but wanted to warn other readers. Will try and search for another brand as can’t get the above recommended in Australia.

  38. Is it safe to take Astaxanthin while taking a blood thinner?

  39. People who have food allergies for seafood ..should take this supplement or maybe find one
    Non Allergenic for seafood.

  40. Hi Katie,

    Does astaxanthin go rancid? Should it be frozen if I want to buy a large bottle of it?

  41. I’ve been trying to find more information on astaxanthin. My husband takes BioSuperFood microalgae. It’s a blend of 4 different types of algae including astaxanthin. He takes it in place of a multivitamin. I am still nursing and don’t know that much about it, but he has had wonderful results, and the company has some pretty impressive quality control.

  42. Could this give me really bad stomach pain and Diharrea ? I took it last night (Now brand) and I was hurting bad and on and off the toilet all night :/ sorry too much info ! Haha but I’m worried this is what did it … Anyone else experience this with taking it :/? M stomach was in so much pain!! Not sure if just caught a big or something but this is the second time now I’ve noticed stomach upset after taking it !

  43. Can astaxanthan cause bloating and gas? I have recently increased my dosage to 12mg instead of 4mg and have noticed I am more bloated? I usually take it with my DIM supplement. Didn’t know if maybe that was causing a bad interaction.