Astaxanthin For Athletic Performance

Fatigue & Astaxanthin

Research provided by: AstaReal USA

Fatigue is one of the most common complaints heard by physicians from their patients. This means a lack of energy, physical endurance or mental focus often triggered by stress, poor sleep, or inadequate nutrition and exercise. There are also routine physiological functions to consider, such as neurons firing in the brain and the heart pumping blood, all requiring energy to get us through the day. In the workplace, mental fatigue has been found to be one of the most frequent causes for workplace accidents since mental fatigue impacts physical performance.

Astaxanthin improved symptoms of fatigue in healthy adults participating in a study that was designed to simulate transient fatigue experienced in daily life. Participants in this study reported improved clarity of thinking and concentration while performing cognitive tasks and made fewer calculation errors when supplementing with 12mg/day astaxanthin after 8 weeks. They also reported improved recovery, feeling less physically and mentally fatigued after completing both mental and physical challenges.

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Astaxanthin & Muscle Recovery

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Astaxanthin and Muscle Recovery

Skeletal muscles ramp up their metabolism during exercise to produce energy that can meet physical demand. The energy currency of all cells is called “ATP,” and muscles have several ways of generating this energy molecule.

How Muscles Make Energy:

• In the initial few seconds of movement, the ATP already stored in muscles is used up

• In the next few seconds, ATP is made from creatine phosphate and ADP by an enzyme called creatine kinase.

• Next, short bouts of exercise break down muscle glycogen into glucose and the glucose is used to make ATP without oxygen. This is called “anaerobic glycolysis” and it’s what causes lactic acid build up.

• Prolonged exercise requires oxygen to break down nutrients to make ATP in specialized cell structures called “mitochondria.” This is called “aerobic respiration” and it accounts for most of the ATP production during rest and light to moderate exercise.

Free Radicals: The Byproduct of Muscle Energy Production

Mitochondria use nutrients and oxygen to make ATP, water, and carbon dioxide that we breathe out. Mitochondria are not perfect engines, and about 2-5% of all the oxygen that goes to the mitochondria gets converted into free radicals instead of water. Free radicals are unstable molecules that attack and damage any molecules nearby. As free radicals build up during exercise, this can cause mitochondrial damage that slows down ATP production and makes muscles less efficient. Free radical damage can spread to surrounding tissues too, contributing to muscle cell damage during exercise that triggers inflammation and muscle soreness. Antioxidants, like astaxanthin, play an important role in neutralizing free radicals to prevent damage to mitochondria and surrounding tissue.

Muscle Fatigue:

Muscle Fatigue occurs when muscles stop responding to signals that normally activate them to contract. During prolonged exercise, low levels of ATP may contribute to muscle fatigue. Muscle fatigue occurring during moderate or short but intense bouts of exercise are more likely caused by ionic imbalance and build-up of lactic acid. In both cases, increased muscle activity causes a buildup of free radicals, which are a byproduct of mitochondrial activity.

Muscle Recovery:

Muscle recovery after exercise occurs regardless of whether muscle fatigue sets in. Recovery involves bringing muscle chemistry back to normal levels after exercise.

The Steps to Muscle Recovery:

• Oxygen levels in the muscles need to be replenished

• Blood lactic acid must be cleared

• Muscle glycogen reserves need to be restored

• ATP and creatine phosphate must be remade

How does astaxanthin help muscle recovery?

Astaxanthin sits in the mitochondrial membrane where it impacts energy production and muscle recovery in the following ways:

• Astaxanthin neutralizes free radicals that can damage mitochondria and surrounding tissues

• In a model study, astaxanthin increased use of fat over sugar as an energy source for more efficient energy production

• Astaxanthin slows down muscle damage that triggers inflammation that causes delayed onset muscle soreness

• Astaxanthin has been shown to reduce blood lactic acid levels after exercise, which is also associated with muscle soreness

• Astaxanthin improves circulation which is important for restoring muscle chemistry after exercise

Astaxanthin and Muscle Recovery Studies:

8 distance runners supplementing with 6mg/day AstaReal® Natural Astaxanthin for 4 weeks showed reduced blood lactic acid concentration 2 min after a 1200 m run compared to 8 runners in the control group (Sawaki K. et al. 2002).

16 women supplementing with 12mg/day AstaReal® Natural Astaxanthin for 6 weeks showed reduced blood lactic acid concentration compared to 16 women in the placebo group after a treadmill exercise (Fukamauchi M. et al. 2007)

21 trained soccer players supplementing 4mg/day AstaReal® Natural Astaxanthin for 90 days had no change in pro-inflammatory market, C-reactive protein (CRP), compared to 19 players in the placebo group that had 57% increase in CRP (Baralic I. et al.2015).

18 elite soccer players supplementing with 4mg/day AstaReal® Natural Astaxanthin for 90 days had lower levels of muscle damage markers, creatine kinase and aspartate aminotransferase, compared to 14 soccer players in the control group (Djordjevic B. et al. 2012).

21 soccer players supplementing with 4mg/day AstaReal® Natural Astaxanthin for 90 days had improved antioxidant enzyme activity (Paraoxonase 1, which is sensitive to exercise induced free radicals) compared to 19 soccer players in the placebo group (Baralic I. et al. 2013).

10 men supplementing with 6mg/day AstaReal® Natural Astaxanthin for 10 days showed improved blood rheology compared to 10 men in the placebo group (Miyawaki H. et al. 2008).

20 women supplementing with 12mg/day AstaReal® Natural Astaxanthin for 8 weeks showed improved peripheral blood flow compared to baseline, as measured by Ankle Brachial pressure Index (Iwabayashi M. et al. 2009).

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Astaxanthin & Endurance

Research provided by: AstaReal USA

Muscle endurance and Astaxanthin

What does endurance mean for an athlete?

It is the ability to race or to take part in a sporting event that involves long distances or that demands great physical stamina.

Muscular fitness consists of muscle strength, power, and endurance. Muscle endurance allows muscles to undergo repeated contraction for extended periods of time while resisting fatigue. Cardiovascular endurance allows maintenance of a stable heart rate during prolonged exercise such as running, swimming and cycling by sustaining efficient energy production in muscles. Both muscular and cardiovascular endurance can be gained through training.

Muscles and fatigue

Fatigue occurs in different ways, depending on nutrient and oxygen availability. Muscle cells use carbohydrates, lipids and oxygen to create energy (in the form of the molecule, ATP). Cells convert nutrients into energy (ATP) by a process known as respiration. Respiration occurs in a cellular organelle called the mitochondria – the powerhouse of the cell. The byproducts of respiration include lactic acid and reactive oxygen species, both of which contribute to muscle fatigue.

The impact of nutrient usage on muscles:
• When lipids and carbohydrates are used as fuel in the presence of oxygen, the process is called aerobic respiration. Lipids are a more efficient source of energy since more ATP is produced from one lipid molecule than from one carbohydrate molecule (glucose). However, aerobic respiration contributes to production of ROS byproducts.
• Using lipids as fuel requires oxygen. So, when oxygen is in short supply, the cells switch to a different process of carbohydrate breakdown, called anaerobic respiration. Anaerobic respiration is a less efficient form of energy production and it leads to a buildup of lactic acid, resulting in muscle fatigue during exercise.
• Increasing lipid usage makes energy production more efficient and can help combat lactic acid buildup.

Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) are free radical byproducts of aerobic respiration, which cause ‘oxidative stress’ when present in excess.
• If left unchecked, excess ROS can damage proteins, lipids, and DNA – especially those found in the mitochondria, where ROS are made.
• Antioxidants neutralize ROS and protect mitochondria from ROS damage, which allows muscles to continue producing energy during prolonged physical activity.

How is endurance gained?

Prolonged exercise depends mainly on aerobic respiration using both carbohydrates and lipids as fuels. Endurance is achieved by consistent training.
• To improve muscle endurance, athletes use less weight and more repetitive training of muscle fibers. There are two types of muscle fiber: slow-twitch and fast-twitch. Slow-twitch muscles help enable feats of endurance, such as distance running. The slow-twitch muscles need to be strengthened and conditioned to improve muscular endurance.
• There is also a need to constantly produce ATP while keeping ROS byproducts in check with antioxidants.
• Cardiovascular endurance is also built up by exercising regularly within the aerobic training zone, which elevates heart rate between 60 and 80% of your maximum heart rate.
• The right type of nutrients, together with antioxidants, serve to sustain energy production, balance the formation of ROS, fight fatigue, and help develop endurance.

Astaxanthin and Endurance

While carbohydrates and lipids from food ensure that there is enough fuel for energy production, antioxidants help neutralize ROS to dampen their negative effects on muscle cells.
• Carbohydrates burn the fastest, which makes them the first choice for fueling energy production. However, using only carbohydrates, leads to lactic acid build up and fatigue.
• Natural astaxanthin , helps improve lipid utilization during exercise by protecting mitochondria from ROS, including the mitochondrial proteins required for metabolizing fat. For example, mitochondria have a fat transporter, called CPT I. This transporter is susceptible to damage from ROS as they build up during exercise. This results losing the ability to bring fat into the mitochondria. By protecting this fat transporter from exercised-induced ROS, natural astaxanthin preserves our ability to use fat for energy, even during prolonged exercise. This lowers dependence on carbohydrates for fuel, which results in less lactic acid build up, less fatigue, and better endurance.

How does Astaxanthin work?

For sports requiring extended periods of exertion, endurance is more important than power and strength. Muscle cells need energy and antioxidants to keep going. Natural astaxanthin is nature’s most powerful antioxidant, and it picks up the slack when our body’s own antioxidants can’t keep up with the pace of ROS production during exercise.
• Carnitine palmitoyltransferase (CPT I) is a mitochondrial fatty acid transporter that allows mitochondria to take up and use fat to fuel energy production.
• ROS generated during exercise oxidizes CPT I, and this slows down energy production from lipids.
• Natural Astaxanthin prevents ROS damage to CPT I, promoting continued lipid utilization and reducing dependence on carbohydrates, which reduces lactic acid build up hence promoting endurance.

Human studies

1) 21 cyclists of ages 18 to 39 with Astaxanthin 4 mg/day were tested for VOmax, a 2 hr constant pre-exhaustion ride followed by 20km timed trial. Cyclists supplementing with AstaReal® Astaxanthin experienced an average 2 min improvement (5%) in the time necessary to complete the 20km timed trial, which was accompanied by a 20W increase (15%) in the average power output. In contrast, the placebo group experienced a 19 sec (0.8%) improvement in time and a 1.6W (0.5%) improvement in power output.
2) 16 distance runners belonging to Field and Track Athletic University team supplemented with AstaReal® Astaxanthin 6mg/day were tested for serum lactic acid levels. Serum lactic acid levels after 2 min of exercise were significantly reduced compared to the placebo group (p<0.05).


1.Effect of Astaxanthin on Cycling Time Trial Performance. C.P. Earnest Sports Med, 2011.
2.Sports Performance Benefits from taking Natural Astaxanthin Characterized by Visual Acuity and Muscular Fatigue Improvement in Humans. Keisuke Sawaki Journal of Clinical Therapeutics and Medicine, 2002.
3. Astaxanthin improves muscle lipid metabolism in exercise via inhibitory effect of oxidative CPT I modification. W. Aoi Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 2008.

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Astaxanthin & Joint Health

Research provided by: AstaReal USA

Astaxanthin and Joint Health

Human Body, Joints, and Muscles

The human body has over 600 muscles, some of which are connected to the joints via tendons. Together, muscles and joints mediate everyday activities such as walking, gardening, sitting, and running. Joints are supported by a muscular framework and protected from the impact of movement by cartilage. Daily activities can put a strain on joints over time, leading to inflammation, pain, and stiffness.

Muscles also lose strength as we age, weakening support around the joints, which leads to weight shifting that can cause joint misalignment and added pressure on joints. When a joint loses muscular support, becoming misaligned or restricted in movement, there is increased risk of injury to that joint from that added weight and pressure.

The body responds to injury by sending chemical signals from the site of injury. Immune cells responding to those signals invade the site of injury to clean up the damage, and these immune cells trigger inflammation. The inflammatory response usually involves an increase in local blood flow (this is why a site of inflammation may be red & warm), pain from sensitized nerves, and swelling from leaking capillaries. All these events help drive joint discomfort and a loss of mobility.

Activated local cells, as well as invading white blood cells release a variety of enzymes and chemicals as part of this inflammatory process. Some of these chemicals are free radicals referred to as Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) or Reactive Nitrogen Species (RNS), depending on their chemical structures. These free radicals are indiscriminate in their damaging effects, and we now know that if left uncontrolled, they make a bad situation worse and more prolonged.

ROS, RNS, Free Radicals, and Inflammation

A quick primer: ROS are reactive chemicals containing oxygen that alter the oxidative state of other molecules. Reactive Nitrogen species do similar things but are nitrogen based. Finally, free radicals are reactive chemicals that have an unpaired electron. Why is this important? Well electrons love to spin around the nucleus in pairs. Think of them like dancing partners and electrons hate to dance alone. Hence, molecules that are free radicals like to pair up the electrons by either donating them or receiving one from another chemical. Sounds kind of innocuous but it can really change the structure and form of both “dance partners”.

Where are these reactive chemicals made? Well, mitochondria, the cellular powerhouses of the cell that make ATP (the currency of energy), produce free radicals, but usually under tightly controlled conditions. Then the white blood cells that invade a tissue during inflammation, make stacks of different ROS, RNS and free radicals as they clean up the injury site and fight off infection. Some of the favorite chemicals produced by these granulocytes are hydrogen peroxide and bleach, the same ones you use to clear out stains or keep your pool clean.

In the mitochondria, ROS is produced as a byproduct of aerobic respiration (this means you “burn” nutrients as fuel together with oxygen to make energy). Normal levels of ROS can be neutralized by the body’s own antioxidants (ex. SOD and catalase), but weakened or misaligned joints are more prone to joint stress, wear and tear, or injury. It is all a state of balance. One must clean up the damage but this process needs to be controlled and short lived. Because once the initial clean-up after injury is done, then it’s time for additional repair steps. The body manages this repair with a variety of antioxidant defenses, and by making sure that the inflammation is acute (short term) and not chronic (long term).

Inflammation is the body’s response to an injury. Although inflammation helps protect the body the real problem arises when the short term actions persist, and then you have chronic inflammation. Here repair is circumvented and degenerative conditions may result.

So, with chronic inflammation you have continuous ROS/RNS/Free radical production that overwhelms defenses and alters tissue structure e.g. as in Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Circulation In Joints

Nitric oxide (NO) is produced by an enzyme (eNOS) in the inner cells lining blood vessels (endothelium), and plays a major role in regulating local blood flow and blood pressure. During inflammation, a normally dormant enzyme (iNOS) dominates. The gene for this enzyme is normally silent or dormant, but the gene becomes activated during inflammation or infection.

There is a significant transformation when iNOS is activated, and it centers on the amount of nitric oxide that is produced. The active iNOS enzyme produces NO in large quantity, only limited by the availability of substrate (L-arginine). Antioxidant defenses are overwhelmed and large amounts of new toxic species are formed including smog (NO2 and N2O3), peroxynitrite and lipid peroxides. The creation of vast amounts of these new RNS-type free radicals can contribute to both inflammation symptoms and cause tissue damage contributing to chronic inflammation.

These reactive nitrogen species (RNS) are the main reasons why nitric oxide goes from useful functions to causing significant damage. In this case oxygen and nitric oxide are chemical parents that have troublesome children.


So how does one make sure that the important acute inflammatory response does not transcend into chronic inflammation, persisting unabated? This is where we change our focus to DNA and our genes. Cells are not using every gene at once, otherwise how would you tell a skin cell apart from say, a liver cell? No, each cell has its own “software program” which genes to activate at different times.

In chronic inflammation, the switches that control which software program is playing gets stuck. The cycle of acute inflammation does not get switched off, like a broken record, it replays the same tune. We know these switches and how they control which genes are ON or OFF, and in the case of inflammation they are turned on by oxidants and free radicals. On the flip side, antioxidants and free radical scavengers can turn them off - flip the switch.

Chronic inflammation can be managed using these natural antioxidants and free radical scavengers to restore the genetic software to the normal setting, switching off the program for inflammation.

Natural Astaxanthin - An Antioxidant For Joint And Muscle Weakness

In response to injury and the presence of ROS, the body produces a variety of antioxidant defenses. However, the amount and types of antioxidants produced may become insufficient as we age, making us fall short of the antioxidant levels needed to overcome the harmful effects of ROS, RNS and free radicals.

A wide variety of antioxidants are present in the market today including, Vitamin CoQ10, dietary polyphenols and the most powerful of all Natural Astaxanthin. Natural Astaxanthin has been shown to reset the master gene switch for inflammation, NF-kB. This switch is left permanently ON by a burden of oxidants and free radicals. Natural Astaxanthin, by suppressing this signal, is able to turn the switch off and by doing so, genes that are part of the chronic inflammatory response are also reset.

Natural Astaxanthin helps muscle mitochondria use nutrients in a way that produces energy more efficiently. This efficiency reduces the buildup of lactic acid and results in better energy production, better endurance, and supports recovery of muscles after exercise.

When coupled together with exercise, natural Astaxanthin also helps in the improvement of muscle weakness, strain and stress and muscle soreness in the cases of Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, Tennis Elbow and Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS).

Carpel Tunnel Syndrome is caused when the median nerve that runs through the forearm to the wrist and the muscles surrounding the nerve are weak due to overuse or a fracture. Subjects with Carpel tunnel syndrome reported experiencing less pain on taking Natural Astaxanthin compared to the pain level reported by those who did not take natural Astaxanthin.

Tennis elbow is the swelling of tendons in the elbow and the arm. It is caused due to the same repetitive motion and/or repetitive gripping which causes strain and stress on the muscles. Subjects who took Natural Astaxanthin reported less pain levels and better mobility when compared to those who didn’t take Natural Astaxanthin.

Natural Astaxanthin

Joints and the muscles surrounding them have a close functional interaction, and injury to one can affect the other. When injured, the body illicits an immune response leading to production of ROS at the site of injury. Injury also causes swelling and inflammation. If left unchecked the ROS and inflammation can exacerbate and prolong swelling. The body’s natural antioxidants may become overwhelmed in such a scenario, unable to keep excess free radicals in check. So, the body needs additional extrinsic support to overcome ROS buildup and inflammation in the form of antioxidant supplements.

Natural Astaxanthin neutralizes free radicals, improving the overall health of joints. AstaReal® Astaxanthin also supports muscle function, and together with exercise, natural astaxanthin can help support the muscular framework that contributes to strong and healthy joints, allowing you to keep moving and live a healthier life.


1. Bioastin, a natural astaxanthin from microalgae, helps relieve pain and improves performance in patients with Carpel Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), Yael Nir and Gene A. Spiller, A Study report, 2002.

2. Effect of daily use of Astaxanthin on symptoms associated with Tennis Elbow. Gene A Spiller, Antonella Dewell, Sally Chaves and Zaga Radkidzich. Health Research and Studies Center, CA.

3. Astaxanthin Clinical Trial for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Andrew C Fry, The University of Memphis. Funded by Cyanotech Inc. 2001.

4. Muscle Weakness in Rheumatoid Arthritis: The role of Ca2+ and free radical signaling. Takahashi Yamada, EBioMedicine, 2017.

5. Suppressive effects of astaxanthin against rat endotoxin-induced uveitis by inhibiting the NF-κB signaling pathway. Suzuki, Y. et al., Experimental Eye Research 82 (2006) 275-281.

6. Astaxanthin improves muscle lipid metabolism in exercise via inhibitory effect of oxidative CPT I modification. Aoi, W. et al., Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 366 (2008) 892–897.

7. Food functionality of astaxanthin-10: Synergistic effects of astaxanthin-10 intake and aerobic exercise. Fukamauchi, M. et al., Food Style 21, October 2007, Vol.11 No. 10.

8. Sports Performance Benefits from Taking Natural Astaxanthin Characterized by Visual Acuity and Muscle Fatigue Improvement in Humans. Sawaki, K. et al., Journal of Clinical Therapeutics & Medicine. 2002, Vol. 18(9): 72-88.

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Astaxanthin = Astaxanthin...Right?

Research provided by: AstaReal USA

You might think that all astaxanthin is created equal. When we go shopping for supplements, we expect that they are all held under the same scrutiny that the food we eat and water we drink is held under. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Knowing the country of origin for your astaxanthin is extremely important. Some countries do not regulate or have nearly the scrutiny that the United States of America has in regards to natural astaxanthin supplements.

Since astaxanthin is a usually found in nature, it, like many other natural products, is affected by its environment. When the air and water that the astaxanthin is grown in is contaminated by external factors such as airplane exhaust and environmental pollutants it degrades the astaxanthin quality.

How do I know that the astaxanthin I’m taking is free of these pollutants?

Some astaxanthin manufactures claim they are “Made in the USA” whereas in fact they import their raw astaxanthin material from overseas. They do extract their astaxanthin in the USA, but since there is very little regulation in the quality control from overseas raw astaxanthin, pollutants remain. There is no way to remove the pollutants completely in the end product for the consumer.

We encourage all astaxanthin users to know where their astaxanthin is produced from the beginning to end. There are only a handful of companies that produce, cultivate, and manufacture astaxanthin 100% in the USA.

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