Astaxanthin is a reddish pigment that belongs to a group of compounds called carotenoids. It is naturally occurring in certain algae and is responsible for the red color found in lobster, shrimp, salmon, trout, and other seafood (photocredit: http://jarretmorrow.com). A powerful anti-oxidant, with anti-oxidant strength up to 6000 times more potent than Vitamin C, it is used in human medicine for treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease, high cholesterol, stroke, adjunctive therapy for cancer, cancer prevention, and an eye condition known as macular degeneration (source http://web-md.com
).In dogs and cats, astaxanthin can be applied as a nutraceutical supplement for autoimmune disease, arthritis, allergies, adjunctive therapy for cancer, cancer prevention, cognitive dysfunction, and many other conditions that result in inflammation and tissue damage from free radical formation. Dosed properly, there are virtually no negative side effects associated with astaxanthin.Like any other nutritional supplements, extraction and processing for gastrointestinal absorption is key to the integrity and subsequent efficacy of astaxanthin. Nutritional supplements are not regulated by the FDA, which leads to the availability of a lot of bogus product in the industry. Therefore, be certain to obtain this and any other nutritional supplement through reputable, ideally pharmaceutical grade sources. For example, it is a key ingredient in my animal hospital’s anti-arthritis canine joint chews, which I recommend dogs starting by age 3.
Relatively new to the nutraceutical industry, the health benefits of astaxanthin that we are currently aware of are just the tip of the iceberg. As a practitioner of integrative veterinary medicine, I am very excited about ongoing research to discover new and innovative ways to manage disease with this naturally occurring and virtually side effect free anti-oxidant.