Astaxanthin, the antioxidant, is found in krill oil
Astaxanthin is the redpigment found in some of the seafood we commonly eat, including lobster, salmon, shrimp, and crayfish. Astaxanthin is in the same family of molecules as beta-carotene found in carrots and lycopene found in tomatoes. Astaxanthin is an antioxidant, something that slows or eliminates the process of oxidation in the human body.
Oxidation is what causes metal to rust and fruits to turn brown. Oxidation is a natural process within living systems. We need if for existence. The problem occurs when oxidation and free-radical damage run unchecked. This is one of the key reasons we need antioxidants from our food (along with antioxidant enzymes that are produced within cells naturally). Left unchecked, the process of free-radical oxidation does damage to molecules such as our DNA, causing problems such as age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness. Oxidation is also one process behind aging and carcinogenesis (the process by which normal cells are converted to cancer cells).
Antioxidants such as astaxanthin have the potential to neutralize DNA-damaging free radicals. These are formed when a molecule in your cells loses an electron. This can be triggered by the presence of environmental factors such as pollution, radiation, herbicides, or smoking. Free-radical activity can even be triggered by consumption of excessive calories, such as those found in simple sugars. Free radicals are unstable and try to steal their needed electron from another compound – a method used to gain stability. The compound from which the electron is stolen becomes another free radical, which can begin a chain reaction, eventually resulting in the disruption of a living cell. Importantly, free-radical damage accumulates with age.
There have been at least eight human clinical studies on astaxanthin to assess its safety and bioavailability, as well as its effect on oxidative stress, inflammation, and the cardiovascular system. A search of the National Library of Medicine yields 139 studies under the rubric “astaxanthin and humans.”
Although lutein and zeaxanthin are promoted more frequently as eye-health ingredients, an increasing number of studies indicate that astaxanthin is more effective than other antioxidants in its class (carotenoids), such as beta-carotene and vitamin E, in protecting the eye from UV light-induced damage. It scavenges the free radicals associated with age-related macular degeneration, crossing the blood-brain barrier and concentrating in the central cones of the retinal macula.
Scientists are also speculating that there may be a synergistic relationship between the antioxidant in krill oil (astaxanthin) and the phospholipids, which may work differently and more effectively in the body than astaxanthin alone to regulate levels of cholesterol and other fats in the blood, important for cardiovascular health.
Update: In April of 2010, Japanese scientists determined in a tightly controlled clinical setting that astaxanthin clearly increases good cholesterol (HDL) and adiponectin, a protein hormone that modulates numerous important metabolic processes, such as fatty-acid catabolism and glucose regulation.1
Also, from a human clinical trial on 30 middle-aged and senior subjects, researchers concluded that Astaxanthin may help prevent dementia.2
1. Yoshida H, Yanai H, Ito K, Tomono Y, Koikeda T, Tsukahara H, Tada N. Administration of natural astaxanthin increases serum HDL-cholesterol and adiponectin in subjects with mild hyperlipidemia. Atherosclerosis. 2010 Apr;209(2):520-3. Epub 2009 Oct 14.
2. Kiyotaka Nakagawa, et al. Antioxidant effect of astaxanthin on phospholipid peroxidation in human erythrocytes, British Journal of Nutrition (2011)
One good way of telling high quality krill oil is by the darkness of the capsule – the darker the better. Astaxanthin is red but if krill oil is high in Astaxathin the capsules should look darker than red. Astaxanthin also acts as a perservative since it is an antioxidant and allows the krill oil to stay fresher longer. Goodbye to burping up fish oil capsules when you use krill oil with extra astaxathin!
#2 Red Krill Oil Dark Capsules
Submitted by Joe53 on Tue, 2010-08-24 20:31.
The redness of the capsule only goes so far in telling the astaxanthin level. At some point the capsule will look dark red. Anything more will make it look black.
However, when a capsule looks orange, it will most likely has little astaxanthin.
Orange = Inferior.
Black = Premium Krill Oil.
There are several krill oil brands on the market with very high astaxanthin levels. For example, Deep Ocean Krill Oil distributed by astaxanthin grower Valensa, contains 0.45 mg per 300 mg capsule. Similarly, Azantis makes several qualities of Krill Oil with levels up to 6 mg per 500 mg capsule and they sell their different qualities through many resellers. The standard Azantis quality contains 0.75 mg per 500 mg capsule.
Mega Red does not disclose the astaxanthin content on their label, but we have one indication that it is extremely low: According to oil importer Edwards, who distributes krill oil from the same source as Mega Red's, states (*) that the imported oil typically contains 50 PPM or 0.015 mg per 300 mg capsule.
On the other end of the spectrum we find XanthOmega. They say on their site that they increased "the amount of the powerful antioxidant astaxanthin in XanthOmega™ Krill Oil from 1.5 mg to 12 mg per serving". That makes it the most powerful red krill oil in the world.
Mega Red (*) estimated 0.9 mg astaxanthin in bottle
Deep Ocean Krill Oil (**) estimated 27.0 mg astaxanthin in bottle
Azantis standard grade (***) estimated 45.0 mg astaxanthin in bottle
XanthOmega (****) estimated 360.0 mg astaxanthin in bottle
* Based on web info from J Edwards, distributor of Aker's Superba Krill Oil. See bulknaturaloils.com/fishoil/krilloil.html. Mega Red 60 capsules with 300 mg oil with estimated 0.015 mg astaxanthin per capsule.
** Based on Valensa's website usnutra.com. Deep Ocean Krill Oil with 60 capsules each 300 mg with 0.45 mg astaxanthin per capsule.
*** Based on Azantis' web site azantis.com/products.htm. PrimeMetabolics.com Krill Oil 60 capsules 500 mg each with 0.75 mg astaxanthin per capsule.
**** Based on XanthOmega Krill Oil 60 capsules 500 mg each with 6 mg astaxanthin per capsule. Google "XANTHOMEGA DARK RED KRILL OIL" for supplement facts.
#3 Which krill is the purest?
Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, 2010-08-21 13:00.
There are so many brands or krill oil out there. I know that astaxanthin levels are important. How do I choose the right one?
#4 Compare Neptune Krill Oil
Submitted by Joe53 on Thu, 2010-08-26 17:27.
Neptune (the original krill oil manufacturer) stresses that they have "esterified" astaxanthin, as if other brands don't have that. Let me assure you that all astaxanthin in all FDA regulated health products is esterified, because it comes either from krill or from red algae. Non-esterified astaxanthin is simply not FDA approved.
In other words, all the astaxanthin in all the krill products out there is chemically speaking the same, whether it is from krill (which got it from algae) or directly from algae. The only thing that matters is how much of the good red stuff is in your daily krill oil dose. IMHO, the more the better, because clinical studies for astaxanthin start to see amazing results at 3 to 4 mg per day.
The original Neptune Krill Oil or NKO came as dark red capsules and was labeled as 1.5 mg astaxanthin per gram of oil. The color is nowadays orange and the label claim has fallen to 1.25 mg per gram.
#5 More information on the way
Submitted by James Townsend on Sat, 2010-08-21 14:16.
We will soon be adding lots of info that will help you to determine this.
#6 Astaxanthin Levels
Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 2010-08-20 14:28.
What do you think about how all these different companies have different astaxanthin levels? I find it very confusing.
#7 Mega Red or not so MEGA Red Krill Oil
Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 2010-08-20 18:02.
You have wheat and you have whole wheat. The same with krill oil.
The problem with krill oil is that the marketing folks have hijacked the truth. Mega Red Krill Oil isn't mega red at all. It actually has the lowest possible astaxanthin levels of all krill oil products currently on the market.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this krill oil forum is a public service of WellWise.org, and should not in any way substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended to constitute personal medical advice.