What Is Astaxanthin, and Why Do I See It In Nootropic Supplements?

by Ming C

Astaxanthin is a carotenoid, which is a fat-soluble pigment found in some foods. Astaxanthin gives some seafood like salmon and krill the trademark red color we normally associated with those foods. (Fun fact: It’s also found in flamingo feathers, though it’s very doubtful your Astaxanthin supplement comes from flamingos! More often, it’s harvested from algae.) But why are we seeing it in more and more nootropic compounds?

Is Astaxanthin Good for the Brain?

The compound has been tied to increased blood flow, decreased low-density cholesterol oxidation (which could help reduce artery blockage and the risk of heart disease), and is generally considered a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. There’s some evidence that these two properties, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant, could help alleviate symptoms of brain injury and trauma.

It’s a compound that may also slow age-related cognitive decline because it can have neuroprotective properties, protecting the brain against oxidative damage that comes with age.

Other research indicates astaxanthin could increase spatial memory in mammals, though that research has primarily been conducted on rodents, not humans just yet. This research also emphasized that the exact mechanisms for astaxanthin’s impact on cognitive function aren’t fully explored, so while there may be some perceived benefit in studies and anecdotal use, we don’t yet have a full understanding of exactly how it impacts our brains.

Where Do We Find Astaxanthin Supplements?

We’ve seen more and more standalone astaxanthin supplements come on to the market, and most research that shows positive effects in humans involves supplementation around 6 to 8 mg per day. However, it’s also a compound that’s becoming frequently paired with other anti-inflammatory nootropics like fish oil (DHA and EPA). We first saw this combination in Nootrobox’s KADO-3 supplement, which pairs astaxanthin with fish oil, vitamin D, and vitamin K. Nootrobox’s astaxanthin is sourced from krill, much like the omega-3 oils in KADO-3.

What are your experiences with astaxanthin? Let us know in the comments below!

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