While many of us take it for granted, our skin is one of the hardest working organs in our entire body.
Unlike other organs and body systems, your skin fields oxidative stress from both internal and external forces. Whether the threat is found in advanced glycation end products (AGES) —highly reactive free radicals that result from excessive sugar intake—or free radicals that are the result of environmental factors like the sun’s UV rays, your skin is busy day in and day out protecting your body.
So how can we fortify our skin cells and have the healthiest looking glow possible? As with most things, your best line of defense is going to come from within.
Enter: Astaxanthin—the antioxidant powerhouse that is unmatched when it comes to next-level skin health.
Astaxanthin is the pink-hued compound found in foods such as salmon, shrimp and krill, and this potent antioxidant has the unique ability to combat free radical damage to give your health a boost in a wide variety of ways.
It is classified as a carotenoid, but it is much more unique and powerful than other members of carotenoid family. This is, in part, because it is one of the only carotenoid compounds not converted to retinol in the body, permitting, therefore, 100% of its antioxidant strength to combat cell damaging free radicals. And when it comes to beautiful glowing skin, this pays off big time.
In fact, clinical studies have shown that astaxanthin has the incredible ability to protect the skin’s cellular matrix, restoring valuable skin proteins, locking in hydration and curbing the formation of creases and fine lines caused by damage to skin cells.
The Cellular Matrix/Collagen Connection
Cells in connective tissue known as fibroblasts work to produce the skin’s structural framework, which includes the cellular matrix, collagen and other proteins and fibers.
In our youth, the cellular matrix is strong and collagen production is at its peak, which is why younger children have such plump and smooth skin. Over time, this structural framework breaks down due to free radical damage to skin cells that, in turn, slow production of skin-plumping proteins such as collagen and elastic.
But in a study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, astaxanthin was found to increase the production of both collagen and elastin to promote healthy cellular turnover and renewal.
And this fortification of the skin’s cellular structure makes a bigger difference because it helps effectively lock in precious hydration.
Proper Hydration Means Fewer Fine Lines and Wrinkles
It’s no secret that hydration is the hallmark of healthy-looking skin. Studies show that when cellular walls are fortified with astaxanthin’s antioxidant quenching strength, they better retain the skin’s much-needed moisture.
In one study, participants were given either an oral astaxanthin supplement or a placebo for a 16-week period that included the seasonal transition of summer to fall, a season during which time skin can undergo considerable moisture loss. At the end of the 16 weeks, those supplementing with astaxanthin had significantly more skin hydration as well as fewer fine lines and wrinkles.
This brings us to one of the other incredible ways astaxanthin supports beautiful smooth and glowing skin: It protects against the formation of fine lines and wrinkles we try so hard to avoid.
Protecting Your Skin from Both Internal and External Damage
Astaxanthin is incredibly unique in that it fights free-radical damage that occurs from both internal and external factors.
We know that when free radicals assault the precious matrix responsible for skin’s structural integrity, they denigrate the collagen and elastin proteins that keep skin plump, smooth and wrinkle free. But one thing we haven’t yet stressed is just how effective astaxanthin is at winning the war against free radicals that cause skin damage from the inside.
While many antioxidants have been known to provide excellent support to shield skin cells from this damage, astaxanthin has really upped the game.
In a study conducted to determine antioxidant strength, researchers tested astaxanthin against 26 of the most powerful antioxidants on earth for its ability to neutralize singlet oxygen, an especially destructive type of free radical, showing astaxanthin to be the most potent of them all – 40 times more powerful than beta-carotene and an incredible 6,000 times more powerful than vitamin C.
And no matter the season, your skin is, on some level, externally exposed to the sun’s UV radiation—and so we need this. Sun exposure increases vitamin D production and increases feel-good hormones. But, as with everything, too much of a good thing can have harmful consequences.
UVA rays from the sun penetrate the layers of the skin much deeper than UVB rays. When they reach the deepest layer, the dermis, a particularly harmful class of free radicals known as ROS compounds are produced and—when left unchecked—can wreak havoc on the cellular matrix. This spells big trouble for connective tissue, as well as for collagen and elastin, the proteins that prevent creases and keep skin firm.
But astaxanthin is uniquely suited to cover the full span of our cells with its free-radical fighting shield. In one study astaxanthin was shown to be 100 times more effective than lutein and beta-carotene against the oxidative stress caused by UVA radiation.
In fact, another study indicated that astaxanthin may visibly improve the appearance of skin by correcting dry skin and reducing the appearance of wrinkles and age spots if taken consistently for 6-8 weeks.
Because astaxanthin is such a powerful and versatile antioxidant, with its ability to promote optimal brain and heart health, ease aches and pains in muscles and joints, and support a healthy immune system, its skin benefits are too often overlooked.
But for its extraordinary ability to protect and rejuvenate the health and visible appearance of skin alone, astaxanthin deserves a prominent place in your daily health regimen.
My NAOMI Extra Strength Astaxanthin features 12 mg of pure astaxanthin – 3 times more astaxanthin than is contained in many widely available brands. I consider it to be an essential part of my health regimen and take it every day without fail.