A uniquely-structured carotenoid, in the same family as beta-carotene and lutein, astaxanthin is a strong free radical fighter. It is found in many sources, including yeast, salmon, trout, krill, and shrimp, although one of the richest dietary sources of astaxanthin is from Haematococcus pluvialis, a freshwater form of green microalgae.
While ultra-violet damage to the skin from sun exposure is clearly a risk for people who spend a great deal of time outdoors, it can affect anyone if the environmental conditions and an individual’s predisposition are aligned. Left unchecked, even minor skin damage could develop into melanoma (skin cancer). That’s why its so important to find simple preventative measures.
This study found that astaxanthin supplementation significantly suppressed skin dryness and wrinkles due to sun exposure compared to the placebo group. This may be due to astaxanthin’s effects on UVB-activated cytokines and other enzyme activity that the researchers had noted in laboratory work.
Tominaga K, Hongo N, Fujishita M, Takahashi Y, Adachi Y. Protective effects of astaxanthin on skin deterioration. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2017 Jul;61(1):33-39. doi: 10.3164/jcbn.17-35. Epub 2017 Jun 20. PMID: 28751807; PMCID: PMC5525019.
Astaxanthin is a carotenoid with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. To evaluate the anti-inflammatory effect of astaxanthin on skin deterioration, we confirmed its role in epidermal-dermal interactions in vitro. Astaxanthin treatment suppressed ultraviolet B (UVB)-induced inflammatory cytokine secretion in keratinocytes, and matrix metalloproteinase-1 secretion by fibroblasts cultured in UVB-irradiated keratinocyte medium. To verify these findings, we conducted a 16-week clinical study with 65 healthy female participants. Participants were orally administered either a 6 mg or 12 mg dose of astaxanthin or a placebo. Wrinkle parameters and skin moisture content significantly worsened in the placebo group after 16 weeks. However, significant changes did not occur in the astaxanthin groups. Interleukin-1α levels in the stratum corneum significantly increased in the placebo and low-dose groups but not in the high-dose group between weeks 0 and 16. This study was performed in Japan from August to December, when changing environmental factors, such as UV and dryness, exacerbate skin deterioration. In conclusion, our study suggests that long-term prophylactic astaxanthin supplementation may inhibit age-related skin deterioration and maintain skin conditions associated with environmentally induced damage via its anti-inflammatory effect. (UMIN Clinical Trials Registry ID: UMIN000018550).
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