Astaxanthin Improves Learning and Cognition, Activates AMPK and Promotes Autophagy

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by Nils Osmar. Updated June 24, 2024  Medical Disclaimer

Looking for an effective anti-aging supplement that works along several different pathways? One you may want to include in your arsenal is astaxanthin.

Astaxanthin is naturally present in products such as wild (not farmed) salmon and krill. (It’s what gives salmon its reddish color.) However, much of it has been removed from commercial krill oils. It’s sold in both powdered and liquid forms. I take 12-16 mg of BioAstin’s liquid astaxanthin, (in capsules) and have found it to be much more effective than the powdered kinds.

Possible benefits:

  1. One of astaxanthin’s most striking effects is that it improves learning and cognition, and might possibly prevent or slow the progression of demential “Xue and co-authors evaluated the efficacy of AST treatment after repeated cerebral IR injury in a mouse model. These researchers demonstrated that astaxanthin improved learning and decreased memory impairment and neuronal damage. Astaxanthin treatment increased the number of pyramidal neurons of the hippocampus and restored normal neuron morphology….” See full article: On the Neuroprotective Role of Astaxanthin: New Perspectives?
  2. Astaxanthin protects against UV light damage, including sun damage, in healthy individuals (human study).

    “The beneficial role of astaxanthin for skin has been analyzed in several human studies [22,23]. Especially for UV-induced skin deterioration, the protective role of astaxanthin against UV ray have been reported both in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, the effects of dietary supplementation with astaxanthin on UV-induced skin color change were previously reported [26]. Although a relatively late stage of UV-induced change of skin condition including darkening was analyzed, the effects of dietary supplementation with astaxanthin on the early stage of UV-induced skin change including MED was not reported. We found that dietary supplementation with astaxanthin increased the MED and attenuated the UV-induced decrease of moisture in healthy human. These results demonstrated the protective role of dietary supplementation with astaxanthin against UV-induced stimuli and its usefulness for the maintenance of healthy skin.”

    See article: The Protective Role of Astaxanthin for UV-Induced Skin Deterioration in Healthy People—A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial
  3. Astaxanthin activates the AMPK pathway, suppresses mTOR and stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis. See article: Astaxanthin stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis in insulin resistant muscle via activation of AMPK pathway
  4. Astaxanthin activates autophagy (in animal studies). See article: Effect of Astaxanthin on Activation of Autophagy
  5. Astaxanthin suppresses myocardial injury and is cardioprotective. See article: Astaxanthin suppresses lipopolysaccharide‑induced myocardial injury by regulating MAPK and PI3K/AKT/mTOR/GSK3β signaling
  6. Astaxanthin protects against organ injury from sepsis (in lab animals) See article: Protective effect of astaxanthin against multiple organ injury in a rat model of sepsis
  7. There’s evidence that it protects the eyes against UV damage and can be effective as a treatment in ocular diseases. See article: Clinical Applications of Astaxanthin in the Treatment of Ocular Diseases: Emerging Insights
  8. There’s evidence that it’s effective in reducing fine-line skin wrinkling. See article: Fight The First Signs Of Aging With Astaxanthin

My experience taking it

I started taking astaxanthin along with my testosterone boosting supplements because of a study showing that it can increase T levels (when taken along with saw palmett0). I later switched to taking it in the afternoons after working out.

One interesting side effect is that if you take it for several weeks, it can give your cheeks a rosy color. In nature, astaxanthin what gives salmon its bright orange hue, and makes pink flamingoes pink. It’s also thought to give salmon the endurance they need to swim upstream when spawning. If I ease off of taking it for a few weeks, then take some again, within a few days my cheeks will have more of a rosy glow.

Not medical advice

This article is not intended as, and should not be taken as, medical advice. I’m not advising that people eat any particular diet or take any particular supplements, just reporting on what I’m doing. All supplements can have side effects; I would encourage people to research both possible benefits and side effects before starting on any supplementation regimen.  See full Medical Disclaimer

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