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