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

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Wellness Mama » Blog » Health » Astaxanthin: Why I Take It Daily (Especially in Summer!)

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

There are many well-researched reasons for taking this supplement, but I take it for one very noticeable benefit: sun protection.

My results have been drastic. Before supplementing, I could burn after just 15 minutes in the sun. Now, I can handle moderate (and healthy) sun exposure without burning at all.

I guess you could say I eat my sunscreen!

What Is Astaxanthin?

Astaxanthin (pronounced asta-zan-thin) is a naturally occurring carotenoid found in seafood and sea life, like crustaceans and microalgae. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, carotenoids are a class of over 750 richly colored molecules synthesized by plants, algae, and photosynthetic bacteria.

Carotenoids are responsible for the bright colors of plants and vegetables. While you probably knew that beta carotene is orange, astaxanthin is responsible for the red colors seen in flamingos, salmon (especially sockeye salmon), and krill. Interesting fact, it is the higher astaxanthin content that gives wild-caught salmon a brighter red color than their farmed counterparts.

Astaxanthin is one of the most powerful carotenoids. It is produced in nature as a protectant itself from the effects of losing its nutrient supply and to stay alive. This explains why it’s found in very high amounts in salmon. They need it for the endurance to swim upstream!

Plus, astaxanthin is an incredibly potent antioxidant. While other types of antioxidants can become pro-oxidant, or harmful, during the digestive process, astaxanthin retains its broad range of health benefits.

Top 5 Benefits of Astaxanthin

While I take astaxanthin mainly for its protective effects against the sun, there are lots of amazing benefits of this super antioxidant.

Here are the top five ways your immune system and other bodily functions may benefit:

Fights Pain and Inflammation

If you thought vitamin C was a powerful antioxidant, consider this: astaxanthin is shown to be up to 6,000 times as potent! All antioxidants can fight free radicals to help reduce inflammation, but astaxanthin offers several unique properties that make it especially beneficial.

First, it has a unique ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. Animal studies show that this can help reduce neuroinflammation and might be protective against certain brain injuries. This might also be helpful for those with Alzheimer’s Disease or other cognitive diseases.

Taking this dietary supplement might increase your eye health as well. Astaxanthin can also cross the blood-retinal barrier to directly reduce inflammation in the eyes.

Astaxanthin also might also offer general pain relief for things like joint inflammation, especially carpal tunnel syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis. It’s also great for soothing muscle soreness and sports injuries.

Boosts Endurance

If your workout routine needs a boost (or if you’re suffering from muscle damage), you might want to consider supplementing with astaxanthin.

Athletes are especially likely to see positive effects from taking this supplement. One clinical trial of healthy paramedic students found that taking astaxanthin for six months significantly increased the number of squats they could do — up to three times as much as the placebo group.

In addition to boosting strength and endurance, astaxanthin’s ability to fight free radicals helps speed up recovery time. In other words, the lack of muscle soreness after exercising might also play a role in its ability to increase strength and endurance.

Protects Against Sun Damage

One of the main reasons I started taking astaxanthin is because of its impressive sun-protective benefits. It works by reducing the UVA damage to skin cells from the inside. I am naturally fair skinned and this supplement allows me to get healthy sun exposure without burning or getting freckles.

Astaxanthin’s unique sun protective properties come from the algae Haematococcus pluvialis, which creates this pigment as a protection from the heat and sun to save itself when it loses its water supply. Similarly, astaxanthin works as an internal sunscreen for humans and gives skin a subtle, natural reddish-brown pigment while it protects against DNA damage.

Getting a sunburn means your body is suffering through a type of inflammation. If there are other sources of inflammation in the body, your skin is more likely to burn. My lab results found that since taking astaxanthin regularly and eating an anti-inflammatory diet, I have lower levels of inflammation and I tan more easily without burning.

Plus, the extra boost in skin moisture from taking astaxanthin doesn’t hurt!

In case you’re wondering, here’s how to make your own natural sunscreen that you can use together with astaxanthin for superior sun protection.

Contains Anti-Aging Properties

If your beauty routine needs a boost, consider getting more astaxanthin. You’ll naturally reap the cosmetic benefits due to its antioxidant activity. Specifically, its ability to fight free radicals.

Since this pigment can protect our cells and DNA to fight against oxidative damage, it helps boost skin elasticity, reduces the size of age spots, and even helps smooth out wrinkles.

Research finds that after just four to six weeks of taking astaxanthin, participants noticed a reduction of UV-related aging and overall improved skin health.

Might Ease Cardiovascular Disease

Turns out that the antioxidant effect of astaxanthin can be beneficial to those with heart disease as well.

While more research needs to be done, recent studies found that use of astaxanthin led to a reduction in biomarkers of oxidative stress, which helped improve overall heart health.

Plus, animal studies find that eating an astaxanthin-rich diet can lower blood pressure in hypertensive rats.

How I Use It

I consider astaxanthin more of a food than a supplement, and I try to consume it as part of a healthy diet. I love seafood, so no problem there! Wild-caught salmon is a regular part of our diet, and we get ours here.

That being said, it would be very difficult to get large amounts from food. There are also mercury concerns with consuming high levels of seafood.

I’ve been using this supplement daily for several years, especially during warmer months when the sun is strongest. I typically take one 12 mg of astaxanthin each day, usually in the morning and with a meal or drink that contains fat, like my healthy coffee or tea.

For best results, start with this supplement well before summer to build up your system and prepare for enjoying the sun safely!Safety of Astaxanthin

Supplementing with astaxanthin is likely safe. Side effects might include stomach pain if you take high doses. You might also need to take more frequent trips to the bathroom, and don’t be alarmed if your stools are a reddish color.

Since there aren’t enough studies to prove that it’s safe, it is probably best to avoid supplementing with astaxanthin if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

The Bottom Line

Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant that can help improve your skin, benefit your heart and brain, and protect your skin against aging and sun damage.

I’ve found it to be helpful for me personally, but I’m not a doctor and can’t tell you what would work best for you. As with any other changes to your diet, be sure to check with your healthcare professional before starting astaxanthin supplementation.

Of course, adding a bit of extra salmon or krill to your diet can only be beneficial!

Have you ever taken astaxanthin? Did you notice any benefits? Share below!

why Astaxanthin is one of my summer supplements
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


101 responses to “Astaxanthin: Why I Take It Daily (Especially in Summer!)”

  1. Lori Avatar

    I love astaxanthin. I can stay in the sun a little longer and not turn red. In fact, by the next day I’m brown. I wonder if this is safe for a teenager?? My teen is ghostly white and burns easily. We are getting a pool next year and I’d love to not worry about him burning or loading on chemical sunscreen.

  2. Ashley Avatar

    Can you tell me what specific astaxanthin supplement you use? Thanks!

  3. Hélène Avatar

    I look at it this way too. What better time to up our immune systems/detox abilities than now?? So it hasn’t been a waste at all to have gotten on all these supplements…well CLO and BO are rly foods, in my opinion. Highly concentrated like the “weeds” AKA as herbs! Add some offal weekly and we’re kicking anything’s butt that comes down the pike ?

  4. Sonia Lunas Avatar
    Sonia Lunas

    I love it. I can definitely get a little bit of a tan because of it – and I used to burn after a few minutes out. Do you know if it interferes or alters with vitamin D production?

  5. Hélène Avatar

    We have no results yet but we ve been diligently taking it here since we found out we are moving to Fla from NYS. Hoping it rly helps. We are doing the polypodium too along with CLO and BO and vitamin D drops for extra D as we were all probably very low from not affording the CLO and BO for so long.
    Now we arent going to Fla after all (drats) but we burn badly here so even if we dont get out of this godforsaken state we can still test out the theory.

  6. Cindy Marino Avatar
    Cindy Marino

    I’ve never heard of this supplement, very interesting. You mention it crosses the blood brain barrier can you attach the documents that prove that? Thank you!

    1. Gina Avatar

      She said to avoid it if pregnant/breastfeeding because there isn’t enough data on the possible effects. It can influence hormones and inhibit 5-alpha reductase.

  7. Barbara Avatar

    I’ve been taking the BioAstin, but lately I’m noticing really awful tasting burps. I usually take in the morning, but not with food – and I don’t put anything in my coffee, just black.

    Wondering if I should switch and take this with my afternoon meal instead? Or did I get a bad batch maybe? Does it need to be stored in the fridge?

  8. Kelli T Avatar
    Kelli T

    I don’t have any positive comments yet but have been struggling with my fair skin all my life. I really hope I can update you once I add Astaxanthin to my daily routine and notice a drastic difference this Summer.
    Thanks so much for your post!

  9. Sue Avatar

    At the beginning of your post your link for the Astaxanthin takes you to Amazon and the Bio Astin product which does come in a 12mg dose. In the post above you are personally taking a different brand which is much more expensive. Do you not recommend taking the Bio Astin product?? Im confused now??

  10. Jenna Avatar

    So, this happened for me. Started taking the 12mg Hawaiin Astaxanthin every a.m. 4 days ago. Took my daily dose in the p.m. yesterday and I have no idea whether it was the time of day or that it had just reached a therapeutic level but it is a miracle! My annoying and excruciating lower back pain…gone! I do not usually write things like this but if it helps anyone from having to spend a fortune they do not have on Western Medicine docs and RX’ or from walking around in chronic pain it is worth it. Peace and Love

  11. Heather Avatar

    If you take Astaxanthin can you stop vitamin c supplementation?
    Also do you still need omega oils?
    Considering the daily combination without incurring unnecessary extra cost !!

  12. Bonnie Avatar

    Hi Katie,

    Thanks for the article on a The brilliance of Sockeye Salmon antioxidants. I am committed to ONLY Wild sustainably caught Alaskan Sockeye… Alaska is one of the most pristine places on our beleaguered planet to source food from. For years. I have stuck with TraderJoes Frozen Salmon, as the quality is excellent. All salmon is froze on board ships shortly after, so you willfind that Salmon sold as fresh has been prev. Frozen. Sockeye price varies From $9.99 to $11.99/ lb @ TJ ,depending on date if last catch .(Season not all year)

    Hope this is helpful,


  13. Susan Avatar

    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.

  14. Jesse Avatar

    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 !

  15. Ashley Avatar

    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.

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