Astaxanthin stands out as a valuable natural antioxidant for nutraceuticals due to its superb nutritional advantage. In its ability to trap energy from singlet oxygen, astaxanthin is 6,000 times more powerful than vitamin C, 100 times more powerful than vitamin E and five times more powerful than betacarotene. Its benefits for brain health, eye health, healthy aging, cardiovascular health, muscle endurance/recovery, and skin health are supported by extensive research, including over 50 human clinical studies and more than 1,400 peer-reviewed scientific papers.
An astaxanthin buyer's guide
When purchasing astaxanthin, one must gather as much information as possible in order to get a quality product:
- Know the manufacturing source: Astaxanthin is a carotenoid that occurs naturally in aquatic animals such as lobsters and salmon, contributing to their pinkish-red colour. Although it can be produced synthetically from petrochemicals, the natural version is far superior in terms of efficacy and safety. As an ingredient for dietary supplements, the best source of astaxanthin is the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis due to its high astaxanthin concentration - 10,000-30,000mg/kg.
- Know the production process: Haematococcus pluvialis can be cultivated in open-pond or photobioreactor systems. Although open ponds are cheaper to build, they have been associated with contamination issues, and excessive space and water requirements. Indoor enclosed photobioreactor cultivation systems, on the other hand, have been shown to enable optimal growth of the microalgae, continuous cultivation, and high yields of pure astaxanthin, increasing the culture reliability and overall productivity. Moreover, photobioreactor cultivation systems help to protect the culture from external contamination.
- Know the water source: As the primary input for microalgae cultivation, the importance of water purity cannot be overstated. Due to the high biosorption capabilities of microalgae, any trace amount of heavy metals or other contaminants present in the water will accumulate and magnify in microalgae cultures. Due to human activities, heavy metal concentrations in water exceed maximum permitted levels in many parts of the world. Therefore, responsible astaxanthin manufacturers have access to clean water sources, and ensure that their products are strictly and routinely monitored for heavy metals and other contaminants.
- Know the environmental footprint: Algae is more sustainable than conventional crops because it requires little input to be kept alive. However, algae cultivation, depending on the set-up, can require substantial amounts of water and energy. Therefore, conservation techniques should be in place, such as production methods that allow 0% water evaporation and specialised lighting systems to reduce energy consumption. In fact, because energy is essential for microalgae cultivation, electricity requirements can cause environmental burdens if manufacturers rely on non-renewable energy resources. Consequently, responsible astaxanthin suppliers using artificial light should ensure that their cultivation facilities are powered by renewable energy. Although sunlight can be used to cultivate Haematococcus pluvialis, the inability to grow or stress the algae during the night reduces productivity.
Reliable and responsible astaxanthin suppliers take quality, purity and sustainability seriously. This combination is highly relevant in today's market for finished product manufacturers and consumers, and bodes well for the future. In fact, the natural products industry is moving towards greater transparency regarding manufacturing practices, sustainability and country of origin, closely followed by well-informed consumers who actively look for transparency to help them make their purchase decisions.
References are available upon request.