Astaxanthin: the Supernutrient in Preventative Eye Care

Posted December 29, 2020


Did you know approximately eighty percent of all vision impairments may be avoidable and that many eye diseases are actually preventable? This may be surprising but when given the right resources, our eyes can heal themselves.

One of the most important things your eyes need to heal are antioxidants, the most powerful of which is the little-known carotenoid called astaxanthin. Around six thousand times more potent than vitamin C, it has become the focus of numerous studies and clinical trials examining its necessity in eye health, as well as other parts of our health.


What’s an antioxidant and why do we need them?

Antioxidants are one of the most powerful compounds in our food because they prevent oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical process that produces free radicals. This is normal, but one form of oxidation, oxidative stress, is harmful and is a result of an imbalance caused by internal or external toxins. This form of oxidation produces harmful free radicals (or reactive oxygen species) which cause cell damage and death. This leads to diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer and other forms of cell mutations. Oxidative stress also causes multiple forms of retinal and macular degenerative diseases.


Astaxanthin: the winning antioxidant

Because eye diseases and age-related vision deterioration are mostly caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS), antioxidants are very important for your eye health. Astaxanthin is now considered the supernutrient of all antioxidants. It is the most powerful member of the carotenoid pigment family. These pigments give our food color and astaxanthin’s bright orange-red is responsible for the vibrant colors of krill, lobster, salmon, etc.

Astaxanthin’s unique molecular structure makes it one of few antioxidants that can cross the blood-brain barrier and go straight to the eye. It is able to trap any reactive oxygen species (ROS) and neutralize the oxidative stress safely. This allows it to have tremendous benefits for your eye health while still being safe and tolerable.


Benefits for your eyes

There is increasing evidence that antioxidant carotenoids are extremely important to your eye health. Studies show that astaxanthin can potentially:

  • Prevent dry eyes and soreness
  • Reduce eye strain and fatigue
  • Increase blood flow to eye tissues
  • Prevent eye fatigue (asthenopia)
  • Increase the ability to view fine detail (visual acuity)
  • Slow age-related symptoms
  • Decrease blurred vision and improve focus
  • Help to perceive depth
  • Prevent double vision (diplopia)

Astaxanthin also has been shown to defend your eyes against the dangerous oxidative damage from the sun and the blue light from digital devices. This is critical to retinal and macular health. By enhancing your immune system and inhibiting inflammation, this antioxidant protects your eyes from any further oxidative stress.


Eating your astaxanthin: foods and supplements

Our bodies do not make antioxidants, which means we have to get them from our food or supplements. Therefore, it is important to understand which ones we need and where we can get them. Astaxanthin is fat soluble, so its absorption is greatly improved in the presence of fish oil. If it is not possible to get the recommended amount from food, supplements should contain or be taken with some oil.

When looking for foods that contain astaxanthin, opt for wild-caught if possible. Some farm-raised fish have been artificially-colored and will have lower amounts of the antioxidant. The following foods are the best sources:

  • Krill
  • Crawfish
  • Crab
  • Lobster
  • Shrimp
  • Red yeast
  • Algae
  • Red snapper
  • Rainbow trout (highest levels)
  • Coho and Sockeye salmon (highest levels)
  • Atlantic, Pink, Chinook, Chum (Keto), and Masu salmon
  • Arctic char

Sometimes it is difficult or expensive obtaining all the astaxanthin you need from your food. If you need to use a supplement, they are available in doses of 4mg to 12mg. Discuss recommended brands and your individual needs with your doctor. Make sure that whatever supplement you use is sourced from real food. Astaxanthin from natural sources is twenty times more protective than synthetic. The best supplemental sources come from the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis. For vision health, most benefit from between 4 and 12mg a day.

Remember that your vision health is something you can address both outwardly and inwardly. Our team is here for you at either of our Christiansburg or Salem locations and we want to answer any of your questions.

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