Carotenoids are naturally-occurring compounds responsible for the color in certain foods, and all promote good health. Nicknamed the "King of the Carotenoids," astaxanthin is the compound responsible for the reddish or pink color in shrimp, salmon, lobster, crab, and red algae. Many scientists believe this powerful antioxidant gives marine life the energy to swim upstream. For humans, it offers a number of health benefits including the power to maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Oxidative Stress and Diabetes
Oxidative stress causes unstable free radicals called ROS (reactive oxygen species) to damage cells, tissues, and organs. By stealing electrons from other molecules ROS transform the damaged molecules into more free radicals. Oxidative stress plays a big role in diabetes, either through increased ROS levels or through a lack of antioxidants. It occurs because of consistently high blood sugar, problems with the metabolism of carbohydrates, or limited release of insulin from the pancreas.
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Researchers from Japan found that astaxanthin reduces oxidative stress caused by chronic high blood sugar in pancreatic beta cells (the cells that produce insulin). This allows the beta cells to make the correct amount of insulin when needed, improving the body's ability to maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Another study from India found that increased blood sugar and excessive insulin resulting from a diet high in sugar and processed fat could be prevented with astaxanthin supplements. The study also suggests astaxanthin might prevent the occurrence of more body fat, a fatty liver, or suppressed immunity in people with a diet high in processed fat and sugar.
More Reasons to Take an Astaxanthin Supplement
As if helping to maintain normal blood sugar levels wasn't enough reason to take a daily astaxanthin supplement, here are more benefits offered by this potent antioxidant.
- Provides relief from pain and inflammation
- Improves athletic endurance, muscle recovery, and strength
- Supports good eye health
- Boosts the immune-protective properties of white blood cells in the lymphatic system