I first met
Dr. Robert Corish last year, at the annual Natural Health Expo
West in Los Angeles.
as an anesthesiologist, and board-certified in pain management
and clinical metal toxicology, Dr. Corish believes in the power
of a healthy lifestyle to prevent health problems, and his foray
into natural medicine has turned him into an expert on astaxanthin
– one of the most powerful antioxidants currently known.
the author of A Guide to Men's Health, which answers
the questions all men should ask their doctors, such as how to
prevent a heart attack, what male menopause is all about, and
which health tests are the most important, just to name a few.
the years, I noticed younger and younger people coming for surgery.
And they're on greater amounts of medications," he says.
this trend for the last 10 years, [thinking]... there has to be
something better than... giving them a pill, and once the pills
don't work there's some type of surgical procedure.
need to be preventing this rather than just treating it.
this trend was the thing that precipitated my investigation into
natural medicine, looking for alternatives."
was first introduced to astaxanthin about seven years ago, when
it was still fairly unknown. Since then, more than 500 peer-reviewed
journal articles have been published about astaxanthin, and the
research has now moved from the animal model into human clinical
studies. He has personally reviewed over 80 percent of these
articles and, as a result, is one of the most knowledgeable people
results are very, very impressive," Dr. Corish says.
"They're reflecting what we saw in animals that has tremendous
clinical benefits. I have been involved with the formulations
with astaxanthin, and educating physicians and other people about
the benefits of this tremendous antioxidant."
is a blood-red plant pigment that belongs to the same carotenoid
family as beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein. These carotenoids
give plants and fruits their vibrant colors. Astaxanthin can be
obtained from a few different sources, including:
these, the microalgae, called H. pluvialis, is the most potent
source. The algae produce astaxanthin in response to stressors
such as excessive sunlight, changes in the water pH, or lack of
nutrients, for example. The astaxanthin shields the algae from
the crisis, and absorbs free radicals to protect it from injury.
The astaxanthin offers such potent antioxidant protection, these
algae can survive up to 30 years without water during times of
drought. Once the water reappears, the algae pops back to life.
gram for gram:
contains 5-40 parts per million of astaxanthin
contains about 120 parts per million of astaxanthin
provides about 1,200 parts per million, and
(H. pluvalis) contains 40,000 parts per million
King of Carotenoids
earns the title "King of Carotenoids" by its sheer uniqueness.
The molecule is very different from other carotenoids in that
it positions itself across the entire cell membrane – a portion
of it attaches to the exterior of the cell; a portion to the interior;
and another portion spans across the entire lipid layer.
this translates to is it offers protection on the outside of the
cell from free radicals, the inside of the cell where there are
free radicals being generated, and also this lipid fat layer where
we always hear about lipid peroxidation... It's perfectly designed
to protect all parts of the cell," Dr. Corish explains.
"... Astaxanthin is really very global when it comes to cellular
difference is in the number of free radicals it can handle at
any given time. Most antioxidants, such as vitamin C, E and various
others, can typically only handle one free radical at a time.
But astaxanthin can handle multiple free radicals simultaneously
– in some cases more than 19 at the same time, according to Dr.
Corish. It does this by forming an electron cloud around the molecule.
This is known as the electron dislocation resonance. When free
radicals try to steal electrons from the astaxanthin molecule,
they're simply absorbed into and neutralized by this electron
cloud, all at once.
astaxanthin can handle multiple types of free radicals
too, whereas certain antioxidants tend to have preferences for
certain types of free radicals. Some antioxidants go after singlet
oxygen free radicals, while others target nitric oxide free radicals,
or peroxyl free radicals, and so on. Astaxanthin can handle multiple
types of free radicals simultaneously.
is unique and is really why – I think – astaxanthin is the most
powerful antioxidant that I know of. It's the most natural one.
It speaks for itself... [A]staxanthin has been shown to be:
times stronger than vitamin C
times stronger than vitamin E
times stronger than resveratrol and quercetin
was done by a very reputable scientist, Nishida. He was using
three different types of free radicals... Really, astaxanthin
eclipsed the other antioxidants, because of these factors... It
can handle more free radicals simultaneously when others can only
handle one or two. It can handle multiple species. So, it really
is in a class of its own."
and Antioxidants 101
understand what free radicals and antioxidants are, you can easily
judge the superiority of astaxanthin compared to other antioxidants.
definition of a free radical is a toxic, unstable molecule that
attacks and steals electrons from other molecules," Dr. Corish
says. "Those other molecules could be your DNA. They could
be enzymes. They could be critical proteins within the cell. So,
they inflict damage on the cell. Not only that, they actually
trigger chain reactions... a tsunami of free radicals stealing
electrons from our cellular parts.
[then] become dysfunctional; they die, and this leads to health
problems. We're talking about cancer, inflammation, heart disease,
and the whole gamut of medical problems. The point I'm trying
to make is that it all begins with the free radical.
the process by which these free radicals cause damage to cells
is called oxidation... An antioxidant is a substance that stops
free radicals from causing damage to cells, hence the name antioxidant.
process of damage is oxidation. The protection of it is antioxidation.
C and vitamin E can handle one free radical at a time and neutralize
them. The free radical is being taken care of, but now vitamin
C and vitamin E are being exhausted... they cannot go on to grab
another free radical. So... they now need to be recharged... Depleted
vitamin C may be recharged by vitamin E, alpha lipoic acid, and
ubiquinol. They all handle the oxidized portion. Now vitamin C
can go back and grab another free radical.
is really why we need to take vitamins, supplements, and antioxidants
on a daily basis, because we deplete our reserves. Once you deplete
on your reserves, then we have a problem with the free radicals
versus antioxidants. It's a numbers game. Once the free radical
members are elevated and you don't have enough antioxidant reserve
to neutralize them or mop them up,these free radicals are now
going to cause cellular damage, and cellular damage leads to disease
– heart attacks, cancers, autoimmune disease.
the whole pathological process. That's why we're concerned about
free radicals. That's why we need antioxidants. And that's why
we need to choose the correct and most potent antioxidants, so
as to definitely build up our reserves and know that we have got
that defense system."
important point that makes astaxanthin stand out is that it will
never become a pro-oxidant. Yes, other antioxidants can, once
depleted and exhausted, "switch teams" so to speak, and become
a pro-oxidant free radical. Astaxanthin, on the other hand, never
turns into a harmful molecule, no matter how exhausted it gets.
Safety Record of Astaxanthin
important to beware of side effects, even when dealing with natural
substances. Fortunately, astaxanthin has a flawless safety record.
No harmful side effects have been noted in any of the safety studies
only side effect that we're aware of is that if you take high
doses – and I'm talking about 50 milligrams a day – you might
get an orange hue in your skin," Dr. Corish says.
because it's a fat-soluble supplement and has a propensity to
go to your subcutaneous tissue. This however is not a cause for
alarm. It will not harm your health in any way.
it doesn't cause any mutagenicity, so we're not worried about
cancer. We're not worried about reproductive toxicity. There's
no acute toxicity to the liver. It doesn't become a vitamin A,
so we don't get vitaminosis... Plenty of definitive studies have
shown that it has an excellent tolerability and safety profile...
We're very confident that we have a wonderful carotenoid without
for Heart Health and Chronic Pain
my discussions with Dr. Corish, I increased my own dosage to eight
milligrams (mg) a day and I'm considering increasing it to 12
mg. The typical dose is two to four milligrams, but emerging
evidence suggests many people probably need more, depending on
their health status.
has already shown that it can affect a variety of different clinical
conditions and health conditions," Dr. Corish says. "It
showed a lot of efficacy in cardiovascular disease... There are
studies from Yoshida, Park and Fassett that have shown that astaxanthin
at 12 milligrams per day can increase your HDL cholesterol, which
is the good cholesterol, by 15 percent. It can reduce triglycerides
by up to 25 percent. More importantly, it can reduce your C-reactive
protein, which is a biomarker for silent systemic inflammation.
It's been shown to reduce that by 21 percent.
a cardiovascular dose, we tailor to 12
milligrams, because that's what the studies have shown
to be efficacious."
been shown to be very useful against joint pain caused by inflammation.
Studies have demonstrated astaxanthin reduces nuclear factor kappa
beta; the master switch for the inflammatory response. It also
reduces tumor necrosis factor and other pro-inflammatory cytokines
that causes inflammation and pain.
one study that even took patients with rheumatoid arthritis, which
has to be the worst of all the arthritities. We have osteoarthritis,
psoriatic, lupus arthritis, but rheumatoid arthritis really is
disfiguring and very painful... When they... placed them on four
milligrams of astaxanthin, these rheumatoid patients reported
an 85 percent improvement in their pain score, 60 percent improvement
in their mobility, and almost 30 percent improvement in their
gastrointestinal comfort rather taking NSAIDs and prescription
this group of people with rheumatoid arthritis, 60 percent said
it was just as effective as their prescription medicines. That's
some power right there, and we're talking four milligrams
Dosage for Eye and Brain Health
health benefit of astaxanthin is protecting your macula and retina
from free radicals, which can decrease your risk of macular degeneration
– the most common form of blindness. It also helps to retard formation
macular degeneration is the number one cause of blindness here
in the U.S. for people who are over 65 years old. And we don't
have a cure for it," Dr. Corish says. "It's caused by
free radical damage, especially from blue light in the whole spectrum
of light. It breaks down the macula. And if you could think of
the macula as being a little brake pad that sits right in front
of this fovea, this very sensitive area; this brake pad protects
the fovea from incoming free radicals... Once this wears down
and becomes worn, this is macular degeneration. It causes blindness.
know that lutein, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin protect that macula
from further deterioration. It has a very exciting future for
the protection of our very precious eyesight. For the eyes, I
think six milligrams would be the level that I'd stop at, but
it's anywhere between four to six milligrams for eyes."
now being investigated is whether or not astaxanthin might protect
against cognitive decline.
year, in the British Journal of Nutrition, there was a study on
Alzheimer's. Another property of this incredible antioxidant is
that it passes through the blood-brain barrier. It now offers
us protection to the brain, the spinal cord, and the central nervous
system. As you know, free radicals are responsible for causing
strokes, cognitive decline, and dementia. So, we really need some
type of antioxidant that can definitely pass in there and give
us some protection. Astaxanthin does just that.
found that there is an abnormal accumulation of hydroperoxides
within red blood cells in people who have dementia and Alzheimer's.
We now know that if you give these patients astaxanthin, the amount
of peroxides – these harmful free radicals – is reduced by 50
percent. That's a significant reduction, and that is at a dose
of 12 milligrams.
take 12 milligrams. I want to have this essential nervous protection.
I want the cardiovascular protection and also because of my activities.
I have increased energy. It protects my mitochondria.
we are bombarded by such an amount of free radicals. The free
radicals that come from the environment, those in our food, pesticides,
herbicides, environmental smoke, and excessive sunlight. If I
know that I'm going to be out playing golf for more than a couple
of hours, I definitely want some protection. And astaxanthin provides
that internal protection.
12 milligrams really covers everything.
want to just take it as a general antioxidant coverage, I believe
between four and six milligrams will be adequate. If you want
it for skin, two to four milligrams would be adequate. Once again,
depending on the condition that you are really trying to target,
you can tailor your dose."
information about astaxanthin, Dr. Corish suggests the following