What is Astaxanthin for Dogs and How Does it Work
Scientists are calling it nature’s most powerful antioxidant. It is 6,000 times more potent than vitamin c and has virtually no side effects. To top it all off? There’s a good chance you haven’t even heard of it yet. Meet Astaxanthin, your new and remarkable way to fight free radical damage and protect your beloved four-legged companion. All natural and extremely effective. So, what is Astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin is a type of carotenoid. Carotenoids are colorful plant pigments that occur in nature. Astaxanthin is red in pigment and responsible for the bright red color of krill oil and the pink flesh of salmon.
There are over 600 naturally occurring carotenoids. Some of the carotenoids are known to have a vital role in protecting cells against the damage of free radicals and singlet oxygen.
Carotenoids have powerful antioxidant properties that have researchers finding new health benefits every day. It is shown that carotenoids are also anti-cancer, anti-diabetic and powerful anti-inflammatory agents.
Fun fact! Animals such as flamingos, krill, shrimp, and salmon would all be entirely different colors if they didn’t have astaxanthin in their diet. For instance, flamingos are born with grey feathers. They only turn pink once they begin eating astaxanthin.
Don’t worry, your dog won’t turn pink from taking astaxanthin supplements!
Now, let’s get into how this powerhouse antioxidant works.
How it Works – The Simplified Science Edition
As an antioxidant, astaxanthin works to combat free radical damage.
To understand exactly what free radicals are, you need a basic understanding of chemistry. We’ll break it down as simply as possible.
In the body, atoms are surrounded by electrons. The atoms have layers called shells, and each shell needs to be filled by a specific number of electrons. Once the shell is full, the electrons begin filling the next shell.
If an atom shell is not full, it may bond with another atom and steal its electron to complete its outer shell. These types of atoms are called free radicals. Free radicals are uncharged molecules that have an unpaired valence electron.
More About Free Radicals
Sometimes the body’s immune system creates free radicals to protect against bacteria and infections. However, other times free radicals form when your dog is exposed to chemicals, radiation, pesticides, pollution, processed foods, and toxins. Under these circumstances, free radicals begin to create severe problems.
Through a process known as oxidative stress, single electrons attempt to gain stability but, in the process, cause damage to other molecules. The damaged molecule becomes another free radical. The process continues and repeats itself and is capable of causing a lot of issues.
Oxidative stress harms your dog’s cells, proteins, and DNA. Therefore, free radicals are directly correlated to many diseases, including cancer.
In humans, oxidative stress is what causes aging such as wrinkles, along with causing a vast array of diseases.
Astaxanthin fights free radical damage by protecting all components the cell, including the cell membranes, exterior, interior, and lipid layer.
The scientific explanation is that astaxanthin forms an electron cloud around the molecule which neutralizes and absorb the free radicals instead of allowing them to steal electrons.
It’s always good to know exactly what everything does. While we are on the topic of terminology…
Antioxidants are crucial compounds that keep cells healthy by fighting off the harmful effects of oxidation.
Antioxidants protect the cells from free radical damage by:
- Neutralizing oxidizing free radicals
- Reducing oxidative stress
- Decreasing inflammation
- Supporting cellular and tissue health
Furthermore, astaxanthin provides antioxidants to parts of the body that do not generally receive the antioxidant support they need.
Additionally, the fact that astaxanthin can cross the blood-brain barrier and the blood-retina barrier means that this antioxidant can reduce the potential for disease in the central nervous system, the spinal cord, and the eye. We’ll go into more detail about blood-brain barrier and the blood-retina barrier below.
Other antioxidants that can only handle one free radical at a time. Conversely, astaxanthin can handle over 19 free radicals, all at the same time.
What you really need to know: Astaxanthin is an antioxidant and it is incredible.
Astaxanthin vs. Vitamin C
When comparing astaxanthin and vitamin C, there really isn’t much comparison. Astaxanthin’s ability to combat free radicals has shown to be 6,000 times higher than vitamin C.
Furthermore, astaxanthin’s ability to fight free radicals is 550 times higher than vitamin E and 40 times higher than beta carotene.
The numbers are astounding when considered. Astaxanthin continues to live up to its title of world’s most powerful antioxidant.
Astaxanthin Benefits for Dogs
The evidence surrounding the health benefits of astaxanthin is remarkable. In fact, researchers feel that this is only the beginning of the benefits yet to be discovered.
While there are many potential causes of cardiovascular disease, inflammation and oxidative stress are two of the more prominent. Astaxanthin, as we have previously mentioned, protects against the free radical damage and inflammation that cause oxidative stress.
Additionally, C-Reactive Protein (CRP) is a crucial sign of heart disease. Astaxanthin is proven to lower C-Reactive Protein as well as prevent additional heart issues from occurring.
Natural astaxanthin as an anti-inflammatory agent contains the same necessary results of typical anti-inflammatory drugs, but without the dangerous side effects.
Astaxanthin works as a natural anti-inflammatory agent, making it exceptional for joint wellness. As we know, inflammation, when not handled properly, leads to chronic disease.
Not only does it decrease inflammation, astaxanthin actually blocks several chemicals responsible for creating pain. So your dog will feel at ease as his joints repair.
Additionally, the antioxidant aids in the recovery of joints after physical activity.
Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) is a condition in dogs more commonly referred to as “dry eye.” Again, astaxanthin works as an anti-inflammatory agent, in this case for the cornea.
Unlike beta-carotene and lycopene, astaxanthin has the ability to cross the blood-retinal barrier making it equally important for retinal health. Not to mention, crossing the blood-retinal barrier is something that few can do.
While astaxanthin is still relatively new, the health benefits being discovered in eye health are undeniable. Studies are now finding that astaxanthin could aid in age-related macular degeneration, as well as in the prevention of cataracts.
If astaxanthin is able to help treat and potentially reverse age-related macular degeneration and cataracts in dogs, it’s exciting to think what it could possibly do for humans.
In recent studies, astaxanthin has shown it can increase brain cells and enhance spatial memory.
Scientists are linking the neuroprotective qualities to the powerful antioxidant’s ability to decrease inflammation and oxidative damage.
Unlike beta carotene and lycopene, astaxanthin can cross the blood-brain barrier to support brain health even further.
Although we are specifically talking about astaxanthin for dogs, it should be mentioned that researchers are finding incredible benefits for people as well. For instance, as we get older the risk for developing neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease increases. Not surprisingly, these disorders are defined by the gradual loss of neurons in the brain.
New research is finding that astaxanthin may be able to benefit brain health so greatly that it could actually help fight disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease. Its ability to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation may be able to preserve cognitive function.
We’ll discuss more about astaxanthin as a dietary supplement for humans in a minute.
Astaxanthin enhances the immune system and inhibits certain cancers from forming. The potent antioxidant properties also work as anti-cancer agents.
Also, chronic inflammation can contribute to many forms of cancer. Astaxanthin’s anti-inflammatory properties aid to prevent cancer before it begins.
Immune System Support
Astaxanthin’s antioxidant properties help create a powerful immune system by reducing free radicals damage and diminishing inflammation.
Furthermore, the powerhouse antioxidant has been known to regulate blood pressure and sugar levels.
Astaxanthin is also a powerful UVB absorber. This feature helps reduce DNA damage.
Mitochondria are present in nearly every cell of the body. The role of mitochondria is to produce energy.
Mitochondrial dysfunction or disease occurs when there is an issue creating energy which can, therefore, lead to severe disorders.
Astaxanthin supports cellular mitochondrial function and energy production.
Natural Sources of Astaxanthin for Dogs
The microalgae Haematococcus Pluvialis is the primary source for natural astaxanthin. Haematococcus astaxanthin accumulates the highest levels of the antioxidant found in nature.
Haematococcus Pluvialis extract is used to naturally produce both high dose human and pet astaxanthin supplements.
Food Sources of Astaxanthin for Dogs
While is it in the carotenoid family, it is impossible to obtain natural astaxanthin from fruits and vegetables.
If you want to feed your dog astaxanthin naturally, you have to feed him something in the food chain of the original source.
In this case, astaxanthin occurs in salmon, krill oil, algae, plants, and a few fungi and bacteria.
Haematococcus Pluvialis is a microalga that produces the most valuable type of astaxanthin.
Another great source of astaxanthin is wild Pacific salmon. However, it is important not to use farm raised salmon as the fish were likely fed synthetic astaxanthin.
There are several scientific reasons behind why we should avoid synthetic astaxanthin. The reason that makes the clearest sense is that the body doesn’t absorb synthetic astaxanthin as it does naturally sourced astaxanthin.
Also, synthetic astaxanthin is not approved for human use, which automatically sends up red flags about whether you should consider giving it to your dog (most likely not).
Synthetic Astaxanthin Creating Drama, Drama, Drama
While astaxanthin is only recently getting the credit it deserves for being nature’s most powerful antioxidant, it has existed for quite a long time.
You know that astaxanthin is a member of the carotenoids family that give animals their reddish and pink hues. Wild caught salmon obtains this color from its natural diet of shrimp and smaller fish. However, farm-raised salmon have a diet of mostly fish meal and oils. Therefore, farm-raised salmon have a blue-grey hue, not the pink hue that we are accustomed to seeing.
In order to mimic the look of wild caught salmon, manufacturers were adding synthetic astaxanthin to the farm-raised salmon. Here’s the problem: they weren’t telling us!
Thanks to a lawsuit in 2003, salmon now has to be labeled wild caught or farm-raised. It’s pretty scary to think that we had no way of knowing what we were consuming just over a decade ago.
Astaxanthin Dosage for Dogs
Astaxanthin supplements are a wonderful addition to your dog’s diet. Again, be sure to buy naturally sourced, not synthetic astaxanthin. Follow the label directions if you buy an astaxanthin supplement specifically designed for dogs.
If you are planning to use astaxanthin made for people, assume the labeled dosage is for a 150-pound person. Then adjust accordingly.
Astaxanthin Side Effects for Dogs
Astaxanthin is extremely safe. When dosed properly, this potent antioxidant has no known side effects and no toxic syndrome has been reported.
The dietary supplement is rare in that its side effects are virtually nonexistent.
Like all natural supplements, if for any reason your dog isn’t acting like his or herself after taking it, do not continue and monitor him or her closely. All dogs are different and it’s nearly impossible to completely predict what effects may occur. However, from extensive studies, astaxanthin is incredibly safe.
Potential Risks of Astaxanthin for Dogs
We have already touched on why you should avoid synthetic astaxanthin, but let’s explain it fully.
Synthetic production of astaxanthin contains a mixture of stereoisomers. Stereoisomers are two or more compounds that differ only in their atomic spatial arrangement. Moreso, these compounds affect digestibility and bioavailability.
Furthermore, as previously mentioned, synthetic astaxanthin is not approved for human consumption. This is most likely due to the petrochemicals used in the production.
Synthetic astaxanthin is often used in farm-raised fish. When buying fish, be sure only to buy wild caught so that all the benefits of astaxanthin can be reaped.
Additionally, the following list details what to look for when purchasing astaxanthin supplements:
- It is produced using Haematococcus algae, and not fungus or less effective forms.
- It is made using astaxanthin “oil,” not powder. This enhances stability.
- It is produced without chemical solvents, preservatives, or impurities.
- It contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) or fatty acids. Fatty acids aid in maximizing absorption.
- It is carefully monitored and tested for purity.
- There is a total absence of microbiological and heavy metal contamination.
Astaxanthin for YOU
We obviously love our pets and part of being a great pet owner is making sure that you are in tip-top shape. Dogs need their owners to be able to take them on walks, play with them, and ultimately be able to take as good of care of them as possible. In order for these needs to come to fruition, you also have to think about your own health.
If you found yourself reading this article and thinking how great astaxanthin sounds for your pet, you’re in luck. Astaxanthin can also be for you!
Astaxanthin Benefits for You
While many of the benefits associated with astaxanthin for dogs are comparable as the benefits for humans, there are a couple differences.
Comparatively to the benefits for dogs, brain health and function is significantly aided when you add astaxanthin to your diet. The degenerative loss of neurons in the brain lead to side effects such as anxiety, memory loss, tremors, and confusion.
Researchers are continuing to prove just how beneficial this super antioxidant can be when it comes to brain health.
Protects Your Heart
Also similar to the benefits of dogs, heart health! Astaxanthin is known to lower oxidative stress levels as well as inflammation, both of which lead to severe heart issues.
Furthermore, recent studies show that astaxanthin may protect against atherosclerosis, which is the accumulation of fat and cholesterol in the arteries.
One additional benefit is the remarkable improvements astaxanthin can have for your skin. Researchers found that astaxanthin helped with wrinkles, skin texture, age spots, and also improved the overall moisture levels of the skin.
For best results, use astaxanthin as an addition to your natural skin care routine.
Again, another important similarity is it’s role of an anti-inflammatory agent. Chronic inflammation can lead to diseases such as cancer and diabetes as well as heart disease.
Researchers are finding that astaxanthin may also have the anticancer properties for humans as it does for dogs.
Healthy Eyes and Vision
Eye concerns increase with aging. Conditions such as age-related macular degeneration as well as cataracts exist in both dogs and humans.
Astaxanthin has been shown to help protect retinal cells against oxidative damage. It is also shown to reduce symptoms of eye fatigue.
Enhances Your Workout
An extra dose of astaxanthin may help increase your stamina as well as aid in joint recovery after working out.
Boosts Male Fertility
Studies are now finding that astaxanthin has the ability to improve the movement of sperm cells which increases the ability of the sperm cells to fertilize eggs. Furthermore, a group of men treated with astaxanthin had a higher fertility rate than the placebo group.
As in with dogs, astaxanthin works best when it accompanies already healthy lifestyle. It should not be used as a replacement but rather an addition.
Astaxanthin Side Effects for You
While the side effects for humans are extremely mild, a few exist that we want you to be aware of.
- Skin pigmentation
- Reduced calcium blood levels
- Altered hormonal levels
- A decrease in blood pressure
- Change in sex drive
It is important to note that these symptoms are only likely to occur when taking a very high dose of astaxanthin. Adding an appropriate serving or two to your diet will not cause these side effects.
BioAstin Hawaiian Astaxanthin
BioAstin is a popular brand of naturally derived astaxanthin that comes in a high potency, one pill per day formula. It can be purchased at many health food stores or online on websites like Amazon.
Another popular brand: Puritan’s Pride
Arctic Ruby Oil
Arctic Ruby Oil, or krill oil, is a popular supplement form of astaxanthin. We like the Arctic Ruby Oil brand because it doesn’t have a fishy aftertaste.
The amount of brands appearing on the astaxanthin market is growing rapidly. When purchasing a supplement make sure that it is a natural astaxanthin derived from microalgae rather than synthetic astaxanthin.
If you would rather implement astaxanthin as a food source, the following are all great options:
- Wild caught salmon (*Make sure it is wild caught, not farm raised!)
- Red Trout
- Salmon Roe
- Red sea bream
We don’t recommend shrimp as a lot of the time it is farm raised and contaminated.
While further scientific studies are needed to prove the extent of astaxanthin, it is undeniable that this dietary supplement is one that will continue to impress.
Astaxanthin: Nature’s Antioxidant
More and more evidence continues to emerge regarding the mind-blowing benefits of astaxanthin.
From improving brain health in dogs to an increased fertility in men, it’s only a matter of time before astaxanthin is a staple in everyone’s cabinet.
We are living in a world where we constantly have to be on alert for contaminants that may negatively affect our dogs and ourselves. However, it’s comforting to know that while some things seem to be getting worse, science continues to make new, remarkable discoveries every day.
With virtually no side effects, astaxanthin may be one dietary supplement that you just need to try.