Saturday, May 28, 2011
Natural Sun Protection From Within
If you live in the Northern hemisphere, you are well on your way towards summer. This means an increase in the sun’s potency, which means out comes the sunscreen! Along with topical measures, you can also get a great deal of sun protection from within by consuming a powerful cartonenoid known as ASTAXANTHIN.
Sunburn Equals Inflammation
We suffer from sunburn when we are overexposed to the sun. This causes our skin to become inflamed, which in turn causes pain and leads to skin and DNA damage. Consuming astaxanthin helps to ward off inflammation, meaning that we can spend linger periods of time in the sun without burning or creating other inflammatory conditions. This also helps reduce the possibility of skin cancer.
Astaxanthin for Brain, Eyes, and Nerves
Astaxanthin’s ability to cross both the blood-brain and blood-retinal barriers helps provide super antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection to the brain, eyes, and nerves. This action is central to reducing the risks of dementia and Alzheimers disease as well as macular degeneration, cataracts, and blindness.
So What is Astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin is a very potent antioxidant that is found in the naturally occurring pigments in colorful foods like bell peppers, beets, squash, pumpkin, and the like. When we eat these highly pigmented foods we are consuming more than 700 naturally occurring carotenoids, which contain nutrients that help to destroy free radicals and fortify the immune system. Astaxanthin is one of these carotenoids helping protect the foods it is contained in from damage due to excess sun and oxygen. When we in turn eat these foods, we reap the benefits of astaxanthin’s natural sunscreening and antioxidant powers.
Produced by Microalgae
In addition to being found in colorful fruits and veggies, astaxanthin is produced by a microalgae called Haematoccous pluvialis. In those moments when its water supply is no longer available, this microalgae produces astaxanthin to help protect it from ultraviolet radiation. Working thus as a radiation shield, sea creatures consuming this algae such as pink salmon, shellfish, and krill are also ensuring their ability to withstand ultraviolet rays. Flamingos are another creature getting their pink pigment from eating this microalgae. When we eat these foods, we are helping ourselves reduce the signs of aging as the astaxanthin protects our skin from the sun’s harm.
Free Radical Scavenger Supreme
Astaxanthin is an extremely powerful free-radical scavenger, protecting cells, tissues, and organs from oxidative damage. Astaxanthin also assists in cardiovascular strength while also boosting the immune system, helping to fight cancer, improving sight, stabilizing blood sugar, and reducing inflammation. According to the well-known physician and researcher, Dr. Joseph Mercola, it is 5,550 times more powerful than vitamin E in overcoming what is known as singlet oxygen, a highly unstable form of oxygen that occurs in bright sunlight that can be extremely damaging to cells. Additionally astaxanthin is 54 times more powerful than vitamin C and 54 times more powerful than betacarotene when it comes to general antioxidant benefits. Interestingly, astaxanthin is the element that is responsible for giving salmon their strength to swim upstream by fortifying their muscles.
Important note on salmon:
Wild salmon is 400% higher in astaxantin than farmed salmon while also containing significantly higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids. Farmed salmon should generally be avoided as it contains unhealthy levels of mercury and other toxic material.
If you feel you are not getting enough astaxanthin in your diet, you can usually find a supplement in your local health food store. Astaxanthin supplements are soluble in lipids, just as they are when you eat them in foods, meaning they easily incorporate into cell membranes. Make absolutely sure you get a natural brand made from marine algae and not a synthetic imitation that is often made with petrochemical products. Start off with 2 mg a day and watch for results after a few weeks of regular usage.
Note: to date there have been no reports on adverse reactions to astaxanthin, but it is always best to consult with your healthcare provider before going on any new protocol.
Testimonials and Studies in Brief
The famed dermatologists Dr. Nicholas Perrocone and Dr. Robert Childs advocate the use of astaxanthin for skin health, immune system assistance, and increased endurance. In fact, Dr Childs lives in Hawaii and after he began taking astaxanthin, he found he was able to go out into the hot midday sun for long periods of time without getting sunburned!
A 2002 study on astaxanthin in Yamashita, Japan was conducted with 40 year old women. Each took 2 mgs of astaxanthin every day for a month. After only two weeks, every woman’s skin improved and after four weeks there was increased improvement.
[Yamashita, E. (2002). "Cosmetic Benefit of Dietary Supplements Containing Astaxanthin and Tocotrienol on Human Skin." Food Style. 21 6(6):112-17]
A study was funded by Cyanotech Corporation in order to calibrate the skin’s resistance to UVA and UBV light before and after taking astaxanthin supplements. Subjects involved in the study showed a marked increase in the amount of time it took for reddening of the skin by UV rays after only three weeks of taking 4 mg per day.