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Many health claims for astaxanthin are based on the fact that it is a strong antioxidant. However, in recent years, scientific confidence in the medical benefits of antioxidants has waned; study after gigantic study of antioxidants such as vitamin E and beta-carotene have failed to find the hoped-for benefits.
Other proposed uses of astaxanthin have at least marginal supporting evidence from double-blind studies . In one such study, 30 men with infertility were given either placebo or 16 mg of astaxanthin daily, for a period three months. 1 The results showed possible small benefits on laboratory measures of fertility.
Another study tested astaxanthin combined with the carotenoid lutein as a possible supplement for enhancing recovery from exercise . In this small trial, 20 body-builders were given either placebo or the carotenoid combination for three weeks. 2 Participants then engaged in intense exercise. The results failed to show that use of the astaxanthin/lutein combination reduced muscle soreness or signs of muscle injury.
Weak evidence additionally hints that astaxanthin might reduce blood pressure , help prevent heart disease , lower cholesterol , protect the lens of the eye against cataracts , protect the stomach against ulcers , and reduce risk of macular degeneration . 3 However, for none of these uses (or any other) can astaxanthin yet be remotely called a proven treatment.
Two studies failed to find astaxanthin significantly more effective than placebo for treating stomach irritation in people with dyspepsia (nonspecific stomach pain). 4
- Comhaire FH, El Garem Y, Mahmoud A, Eertmans F, Schoonjans F. Combined conventional/antioxidant "Astaxanthin" treatment for male infertility: a double blind, randomized trial. Asian J Androl. 7(3):257-62.
- Bloomer RJ, Fry A, Schilling B, et al. Astaxanthin supplementation does not attenuate muscle injury following eccentric exercise in resistance-trained men. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2005;15:401-412.
- Wu TH, Liao JH, Hou WC, Huang FY, Maher TJ, Hu CC. Astaxanthin protects against oxidative stress and calcium-induced porcine lens protein degradation. J Agric Food Chem. 54(6):2418-23.
- Andersen LP, Holck S, Kupcinskas L, Kiudelis G, Jonaitis L, Janciauskas D, Permin H, Wadström T. Gastric inflammatory markers and interleukins in patients with functional dyspepsia treated with astaxanthin. FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 50(2):244-8.