If you have ever taken taken fish oil and krill oil supplements together you may have found yourself wondering why fish oil capsules are a nice shade of yellow, but krill oil capsules are a rather attractive shade of red. Krill oil has large amounts of astaxanthin in its makeup. Astaxanthin is a brightly colored carotenoid, and as krill oil contains quite a large amount of it, the capsules come out a nice shade of red.
Astaxanthin is currently receiving quite a bit of attention in the health research arena, as studies are suggesting that it is an extremely powerful antioxidant. In part, it is the high astaxanthin content in krill oil that is making this relative newcomer to the supplement world very popular.
By now most people know the benefits of consuming a healthy dose of antioxidants daily, as they help the body cleanse itself of free radicals. Free radicals enter our system through pollution in the environment and cause us to age faster (or rust as many people like to call it), so it is no wonder that antioxidant has become a rather popular buzzword for the health supplements marketing engine.
Research on lab mice has shown that feeding a group of mice astaxanthin rich food sources helped to decrease their fat levels. It did not work as expected in that it was thought it would reduce the absorption levels of dietary fat, but instead, helped the body use the fat as an energy source, rather than storing it. The mice fed the astaxanthin were given the same level of calories daily as a control group who had increased levels of fat at the end of the study, compared to the mice who were fed astaxanthin.
Sources of Astaxanthin
Astaxanthin is found in Salmon and trout and is also responsible for the nice pink hue of the meat. The fish receive astaxanthin by eating microalgae, which are full of the stuff. Interestingly enough, this is the very same food source for krill as they travel around the world’s oceans. Unfortunately you have to be careful about where you get your salmon from, as the salmon and trout farming industry commonly feed their fish an inferior form of synthetic astaxanthin (but they aren’t going to tell you that).
Astaxanthin is also found in egg yolks, but the same problem occurs with the chickens that lay them. Chickens in pens are fed an inferior, synthetic grade of astaxanthin just so the egg yolks are nice and bright. Organic chickens are fed grains naturally high in astaxanthin, so they are your best source. If you need to get more astaxanthin in your diet try adding wild salmon and trout, as well as organic eggs, to your diet a few times a week.
Astaxanthin is making some bold claims and research is starting to back it up with solid evidence. You may just get more energy, build more muscle, burn more fat, and just all around feel great, simply by adding those few things to your diet each week. People have been eating them for centuries anyway. If you don’t like eggs or fish there are always supplements to give you a boost, such as krill oil capsules. Nothing beats fresh food for sources of vitamins and minerals however.
Interested to learn more about the health benefits of astaxanthin and how to get it? Why not visit the author’s blog about the benefits of krill oil supplements.
Ikeuchi M, Koyama T, Takahashi J, Yazawa K., Effects of astaxanthin supplementation on exercise-induced fatigue in mice., Biol Pharm Bull. 2006 Oct;29(10):2106-10.