Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant that’s sourced from some of the healthiest foods in the world–salmon and microalgae.
It’s also prominent in krill oils.
The anti-aging and disease-preventing effects of this rich, orange-colored compound are hard to match. If you are looking to feel younger and healthier at the same time, astaxanthin is one of the best supplements you can find.
We’ve ranked the best astaxanthin supplements on the market according to their quality and purity.
1. Sports Research High Potency Astaxanthin
The astaxanthin supplement by Sports Research comes with its lipid-soluble astaxanthin dissolved in coconut oil, with a very clean ingredients list. There’s only the bare minim
um amount of extra ingredients (just enough to hold the capsule together). With a solid 12 mg of astaxanthin per capsule, and 60 capsules per bottle, the dosage is up to the industry standard.
2. Viva Naturals Astaxanthin
Known for their high quality fish oil products, Viva Naturals provides a high quality but low dosage astaxanthin supplement at only 4 mg per capsule.
With extra virgin olive oil as the delivery solvent, and no other ingredients save for those necessary for the gelatin capsule, it’s one of the purest astaxanthin supplements on the market, but high dose enthusiasts will need to look elsewhere.
3. BioAstin Hawaiian Astaxanthin
BioAstin is an older astaxanthin supplement, but it still provides a high dosage of the antioxidant, with 12 mg per capsule.
The other ingredients leave something to be desired, though–it’d be nice to see a higher quality oil used to dissolve the astaxanthin.
4. Jarrow Formulas Astaxanthin
The astaxanthin supplement from Jarrow Formulas is not quite as good as its competitors, on large part because of its lower dosage.
At 12 mg per capsule, you get exactly the high dosage that you’d expect from a top-rated product. The formulation is simple, though vegans won’t be a fan of the gelatin based capsule.
5. Algalife Icelandic Astaxanthin
Algalife is a decent source for a high dosage of astaxanthin (12 mg per capsule) and the microalgae-derived astaxanthin is pretty pure, but it would be nice if the solvent carrying it was something a little higher quality than sunflower seed oil.
If you aren’t a purity fanatic, it’s a fine choice; it just gets beat out by a few other more carefully put together astaxanthin supplements.
6. Fettle Botanical Astaxanthin 120
Fettle Botanical provides a middle-of-the-road 10 mg astaxanthin dosage, but the rest of the ingredients indicate that this supplement is a little weaker than its competitors.
The company uses soybean oil instead of a higher quality oil to deliver the supplement, which isn’t ideal, and strict vegans won’t like the gelatin capsule. It’s not bad, per se; there are just better options out there.
7. Dr. Mercola Astaxanthin
Unlike many other astaxanthin supplements, Dr. Mercola’s formulation adds in alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) at a concentration of 300 mg per capsule.
Unfortunately, the actual astaxanthin content is fairly low, at 4 mg per serving. So, if you aren’t interested in the ALA, you aren’t getting the purest supplement formulation for your money.
8. NOW Astaxanthin
With only 4 mg per capsule, and a hybrid olive oil and refined soy oil solvent as the dissolving agent, NOW Astaxanthin is not going to be the right choice for very many people. While it does come in other serving sizes, the design philosophy is still the same.
Even at the low dosage range, there are better options out there as far as ingredient purity and clean supplement design.
9. We Like Vitamins Astaxanthin
At first glance, We Like Vitamins’ astaxanthin offering seems like a nice middle of the road dosage at 8 mg per serving. But the catch is that the serving size is two capsules, so it’s down at the low end of the dosage.
It also doesn’t include any sort of fat-based solvent to dissolve the astaxanthin, so the absorption may not be as good as a competitor. This would lower the effective dosage even further, landing it at the bottom of the rankings.
10. Nature Made Astaxanthin
Nature Made has a reputation for standard, no-frills supplement products, and that’s certainly the case here. Their astaxanthin supplement provides a decent 4 mg dosage per capsule, but not much else to write home about—no innovative additional ingredients, no high-quality oils delivering the astaxanthin, and not a great dosage for people looking for powerful antioxidant effects. It’s an okay pick, but it gets outclassed by a number of other options.
Who should buy astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin is great for people looking to cut down on the negative effects of oxidative damage in their body. Oxidation causes cellular aging to many types of cells, including skin cells, which explains why astaxanthin has been successful at reducing skin aging in older adults.
It’s also been found to reduce muscle damage and soreness in athletes, and holds a lot of promise for reducing risk factors for heart disease—since heart disease can be thought of as fundamentally an inflammatory condition, the connection here makes a lot of sense.
Unlike a weight loss supplement or a nootropic, you aren’t going to see immediate benefits from astaxanthin the first time you take it. Rather, taking a powerful antioxidant supplement like astaxanthin is all about setting up the biochemical environment in your body to enable you to feel and look healthier and younger.
When taken on a regular basis, it can boost the level of antioxidants in your body and reduce the level of oxidative stress that you’re exposed to.
Due to this long term health orientation, astaxanthin is most popular among health conscious older adults, which is great because this is exactly the population that stands the best chance of benefiting from this supplement.
How we ranked
Since astaxanthin is a supplement that’s undergone a lot of scientific research, we hewed pretty close to the clinical recommendations with regards to dosage when formulating our rankings.
Just by restricting our field of products to those that provided an adequate dose of astaxanthin (at least 4 mg of pure astaxanthin per capsule), the number of products that were eligible for the rankings dropped pretty sharply.
For the sake of purity and efficacy, we chose to focus only on products whose primary purpose was supplying astaxanthin—we dropped multi-ingredient antioxidant supplements whose primary goal was not delivering astaxanthin specifically.
We did, however, include brands that provided astaxanthin alongside one or two other potentially useful secondary compounds, such as the alpha-lipoic acid in Dr. Mercola’s Astaxanthin, as long as these secondary ingredients could plausibly enhance the efficacy of the astaxanthin, either in terms of bioavailability or in terms of biological action.
At this point, we also eliminated any astaxanthin products that did not deliver their astaxanthin in some kind of lipid (i.e. an oil or a fat).
We made this decision because astaxanthin is always found in nature dissolved in a lipid (for example, in krill oil), and it’s best absorbed when dissolved in some kind of fat or oil. After dropping products that didn’t include astaxanthin in a lipid soluble form, we started looking at the quality of the lipid that astaxanthin was delivered in.
We rewarded supplements that used highly coveted types of oils, like coconut oil or olive oil, rating these products highly, while astaxanthin supplements that used cheaper and less healthy oils like soybean oil or canola oil ended up lower in the rankings.
We also put a higher priority than usual on vegan and vegetarian-friendly capsules and ingredients, because astaxanthin (which is derived from microalgae) is a popular way for vegetarians and vegans to get some of the antioxidant power that you’d usually have to get from seafood like salmon, shrimp, or krill.
Our final rankings represent the best options for astaxanthin on the market right now. These products are effective, potent, and free of unnecessary fillers and binders.
Astaxanthin is widely considered to be one of the most powerful antioxidants in nature. Astaxanthin is found in a lot of marine animals and plants.
It is commonly referred to as “The King of Carotenoids” and the best part is that it doesn’t cause harmful oxidation in the body.
It gives the red-pink pigment in different seafoods, and is also seen in the feathers of quails and flamingos. While it is similar in structure to beta-carotene, it is very much safer than the latter.
Astaxanthin has risen to prominence, particularly due to the fact that it has different blood parameters, which are great for people with heart disease. It can reduce oxidation of LDL cholesterol and prevent artery clogging as well.
It has also been known to reduce blood pressure in hypersensitive rats, increase general blood, and also reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics. It also provides more anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties than vitamin A.
Astaxanthin has been heavily studied for medical applications. There have been over 500 different studies conducted on astaxanthin and its medical uses and benefits.
A research published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, stated that astaxanthin could reduce stress and inflammation while strengthening the immune system. Different studies have also stated that astaxanthin can be as much as: 6000 more potent than vitamin C, 800 times more powerful than CoQ10, and 550 times stronger than Vitamin E.
Astaxanthin was also found to be at least 500 times stronger than the catechins that are found in green tea.
It is truly the king of all carotenoids, and has a long list of amazing health benefits. There are very few supplements that offer the range of health benefits offered by astaxanthin. So let’s take a more detailed look at its many amazing health benefits.
Astaxanthin has a lot of antioxidant properties that help slow down the aging process. It also stops your cells from aging faster, and researchers at Washington State University, tested the impact of an astaxanthin supplement on slowing down the aging process. It also helped them gain glowing clear skin.
Another study backed up the findings of the research, and animals that were given 20mg of astaxanthin on a daily basis for 4 months, showed enhanced cellular function in white blood cells, and higher glutathione levels (1).
Scientists also found that it helped repair damage to the DNA and protein of animals, which is closely linked to the aging process in the body.
Astaxanthin was considered as a food supplement in the 1990s, and there wasn’t much research available on its beta carotene or carotenoids properties. After numerous hundred studies, were conducted on it, did the anti-inflammatory properties gain more exposure.
In a study conducted in Japan, scientists gave 3mg of astaxanthin to 30 women, who were between the ages of 20 and 55 at the end of dinner and breakfast (2).
These women had to apply 1 ml of the supplement on their face two times a day, after they washed their face in the morning. They had to do this for 8 weeks. The researchers found that astaxanthin actually improved the women’s skin by removing wrinkles, age spots, and making the texture better.
This is why astaxanthin is found in many face washes.
Astaxanthin has shown that it delays aging and is highly effective in removing wrinkles and improving skin elasticity and texture. Other studies have found that astaxanthin may actually be the most powerful anti-aging antioxidant found in the world (3) and has a whole host of other benefits such as improved endurance and energy.
One of the best ways to find out if a supplement will work on athletes is by testing it on free radicals and then checking the antioxidant levels in the body after a workout.
Exercise is considered to be the best producer of free radicals, and the faster the body can eliminate free radicals, the faster the athlete will be able to recover from the workout session.
Researchers tested astaxanthin on soccer players, who were given the supplement for 90 days, and it produced excellent results. Exercising improved all the players’ oxidative stress and free radical production, but the group that was given astaxanthin didn’t have a higher count of free radicals.
This clearly indicated that astaxanthin could help athletes recover faster from workouts, as they had more athletes and energy to burn.
Astaxanthin may reduce your risk factors for heart disease. As with other antioxidants, such as those found in fruits and vegetables or green superfood drinks, astaxanthin has long been suspected of helping to reduce risk factors for heart disease, because many of these risk factors are linked to systemic inflammation in your body.
A study published in 2009 in the journal Future Cardiology outlined the case for considering astaxanthin as a supplement to reduce the risk of heart disease (4).
The paper lays out a number of pieces of evidence. First, it points to numerous studies showing a link between inflammation and heart disease. Then, it establishes the potent antioxidant effects of astaxanthin, pointing to clinical research on nearly 200 human subjects that has found that astaxanthin increased biomarkers of antioxidants.
Finally, it pointed to studies on animal models of heart disease, where astaxanthin was found to exert a direct effect on the cellular mechanisms that lead to heart disease.
While astaxanthin has not been studied in large clinical research on its direct effect on heart disease to the extent of, for example, fish oil, these preliminary results show that it holds a lot of promise as a potential supplement for reducing the risk of heart disease.
Astaxanthin may play a role in slowing or preventing cognitive decline and improving brain function in older adults. Heart disease is just one chronic disease that’s been linked to high levels of inflammation in the body. Another common long-term health problem that appears to be associated with inflammation is cognitive decline (for example, from Alzheimer’s disease).
Antioxidant supplements are commonly studied for their ability to slow down the rate of decline from Alzheimer’s, or improve performance in cognitive tests among people with dementia. Some research on rats suggests that astaxanthin increases the expression of specific genes in the brain that have neuroprotective effects, providing preliminary evidence that astaxanthin could be useful in reducing or preventing cognitive decline (5).
Another study published on healthy older adults found that taking a supplement containing 12 mg of astaxanthin per day for 12 weeks was an effective way to boost cognitive function in older adults, albeit healthy ones who did not have diagnosed cognitive decline or dementia.
While there’s more research to be done here, astaxanthin is definitely an antioxidant that should be considered for its potential ability to improve cognitive function and protect the brain.
The best part about astaxanthin is that there isn’t a study today that has anything bad to say about it.
Remarkably, it is completely safe to be consumed as a supplement, and has been taken safely in doses ranging from 4 to 40mg on a daily basis for around 12 weeks. It has also been used safely with other carotenoids, minerals, and vitamins as well.
Women that are pregnant or breast-feeding need to be careful about taking the astaxanthin supplement, since there is not enough research conducted on the effects of astaxanthin during breast-feeding or pregnancy.
This is why it is recommended that women experiencing those conditions should avoid it, for safety purposes.
People that are taking special medication are also advised to discuss with their medical practitioner before taking any supplements for their own safety.
Astaxanthin has been studied in doses ranging from four milligrams all the way up to 40 mg of supplemental astaxanthin per day.
The benefits of astaxanthin in the context of diets rich in seafood can be achieved with a supplement that provides at least 4 mg of astaxanthin per day (and all of the astaxanthin supplements in our rankings provide at least this much).
If you are looking for more powerful antioxidant effects, you may consider a dose of up to 9-12 mg per day, though doses above and beyond this have not been demonstrated as effective in clinical research done so far (6).
The high end of this dosage range (i.e. 12 mg per day) may be necessary to get benefits on cognitive function, while lower doses (i.e. 4 mg per day) appear sufficient to get skin health benefits.
Q: What is astaxanthin?
A: Astaxanthin is a deep red molecule that’s found in foods like shrimp, krill, salmon, and crayfish. It’s what gives many seafoods their orange or red color.
But astaxanthin is much more than a colorful compound. Like the phytonutrients in fruits and vegetables, it carries powerful antioxidant properties. This means that it can be very helpful for reducing inflammation, oxidative damage, and their consequences (namely, cellular aging and an increased risk for chronic disease).
Q: What is astaxanthin good for?
A: Astaxanthin is primarily useful for its antioxidant properties. It’s a good supplement to take if you are trying to set yourself up for long-term health.
While it’s not as quick or efficacious at boosting your mood or energy levels as some other supplements, it will help keep your body’s overall antioxidant levels high, hopefully helping you improve your wellness over the course of weeks or months and beyond.
Astaxanthin, according to some preliminary research, is also good for reducing your risk factors for heart disease and for preserving or improving cognitive function as you get older, again because of its antioxidant properties.
Q: Is astaxanthin bad?
A: In terms of its safety and side effect profile, astaxanthin is quite safe according to research conducted to date. One study published in the journal Marine Drugs noted that no adverse effects of astaxanthin have been reported in clinical studies, and numerous studies have reported that it reduces biomarkers of oxidative stress or risk factors for chronic diseases like heart disease (7). Given its excellent safety profile, it’s pretty easy to say that no, astaxanthin is not bad.
Q: Is astaxanthin better than CoQ10?
A: Astaxanthin vs. CoQ10 is an interesting comparison—there’s some crossover in their applications, but they work through fundamentally different mechanisms.
CoQ10 boosts cellular energy by providing assistance to mitochondria, which explains its two primary applications: boosting athletic performance and preserving or enhancing brain function. Astaxanthin may also help preserve brain function as you get older, but it does so by preventing oxidative damage to the brain.
Because these two supplements work by fundamentally different mechanisms, it’s hard to characterize one as “better” than the other. CoQ10 and astaxanthin have different applications, and whether each is right for you will depend on exactly the kinds of benefits that you want out of your supplementation routine.
The primary area of crossover between these two supplements is in their potential to protect the brain, or even increase its functioning, among older adults. Since astaxanthin and CoQ10 both appear to help improve cognitive function and act as a neuroprotectant, but do so through different mechanisms, there’s an exciting possibility that they could be used in combination as well, though this has not been studied yet.
Q: What are some astaxanthin sources?
A: In nature, astaxanthin occurs almost exclusively in seafood. Common sources include salmon, shrimp, and krill (the deep red color of krill oil is due to the presence of astaxanthin). If you can think of a seafood that is red or orange, it probably has a lot of astaxanthin in it.
Astaxanthin also occurs in some microalgae and fungi, though these are far less common sources for getting astaxanthin in a typical diet. If your diet is not very high in seafood and you still want the benefits of astaxanthin, taking an astaxanthin supplement is an easy way to get it.
One four milligram capsule of an astaxanthin supplement has about as much astaxanthin in it as a six-ounce salmon steak (and eating one of those per day could get expensive).
Q: Can astaxanthin help your skin?
A: Yes, one of the primary potential applications of astaxanthin is to improve skin quality in older adults. As a potent antioxidant, astaxanthin has been intently studied as a way to reduce oxidative damage to skin.
For example, one study published in 2018 was able to demonstrate that a nine week supplementation regimen of four milligrams of astaxanthin per day was able to significantly improve deterioration in skin cells due to ultraviolet light exposure (9).
Studies like this and others show that astaxanthin (even when taken orally in a capsule!) can have a marked effect on skin quality if you are looking for anti-aging effects to reduce skin damage and wrinkles.
Astaxanthin is rightfully considered to be the king of carotenoids, since it has some absolutely remarkable health benefits.
There are very few supplements that don’t have any negative side effects attached to them, which makes it perfect for people looking to get the benefits of increased antioxidant power for long-term health.
Astaxanthin appears to be helpful for reducing aging, decreasing risk factors for chronic diseases like heart disease, and fighting the kind of oxidative damage that can lead to high levels of systemic inflammation.
The optimal dosage of astaxanthin has yet to be determined, but clinical research has tested doses ranging from four to 40 mg of astaxanthin. For best results, choose an astaxanthin supplement that provides
For BodyNutrition‘s #1 astaxanthin recommendation, click here.