Astaxanthin and Your Immune System
A healthy immune system protects the body from harmful germs, which is why you might not think much about the strength of your immunity until you get sick. As a way to keep your immune system healthy, a person must get plenty of sleep, follow a healthy diet, and reduce stress factors. And dietary supplements such as astaxanthin - a powerful antioxidant - can also provide immune support.
The Immune System
The immune system is formed by organs, cells, and chemicals that fight microbes, bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi that cause infections. The main parts of your immune system are:
- The lymphatic system.
- The complement system.
- The spleen.
- White blood cells.
- The thymus.
- The bone marrow.
Two other subsystems fight against pathogens in the body, the innate immune system and the adaptive immune system. Your natural immune system acts as the first line of defense against all antigens; if it works properly, you won't feel sick. The adaptive immune system is the second line of defense and protects the body by creating antibodies for specific pathogens, after helping the body overcome diseases when infected. Although both systems work differently, both protect the body against harmful germs. (1)
Astaxanthin And Your Immune System
Astaxanthin is a carotenoid pigment found in microalgae, yeast, shrimps, trout, yeast, shrimp, and other sea creatures like the Pacific salmon, which gives it its pinkish color. It is a powerful antioxidant known for its capacity to fight off free radicals.
Astaxanthin also supports your immune system and has been known to improve heart health, joint pain, endurance and provide healthier skin. Astaxanthin benefits the immune system by:
Astaxanthin incentivizes optimal white blood cell production.
White blood cells are the first to defend the body when a pathogen attack occurs. The bone marrow is stimulated to produce more white cells when these are detected. However, this process demands significant energy from the local mitochondria, known as the cell's powerhouse.
When the mitochondria produce the energy, it can "leak" Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), causing membrane and tissue damage together with low energy production. This will hinder the production of white blood cells.
On the contrary, astaxanthin can extend full membrane bilayers, protecting cells from ROS, and creating the conditions for optimal white blood cell production.
Astaxanthin increases immune cells: B-cells & T-Cells.
The adaptive immune system includes B & T cells, crucial to the body's defense response. Researchers observed how astaxanthin could reduce oxidative status and inflammation while enhancing immune response.
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, young female students took 0, 2, or 8 mg astaxanthin daily for eight weeks, which reduced DNA damage biomarkers and acute-phase protein. (2)
Astaxanthin reduces inflammation during critical viral infections.
Inflammation response due to an infection is one of the processes performed by the immune system. However, in the case of highly pathogenic viral infection, the immune system can overreact.
Overreaction of the immune system can create an uncontrolled or dysfunctional inflammation which can lead to Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS). SIRS can provoke organ failure, most likely in the site where the infection occurs.
On the other hand, recent findings have revealed that the powerful antioxidant action of astaxanthin can aid in fighting inflammation and the occurrence of SIRS. (3)
Astaxanthin boosts antibody production.
The immune system uses proteins called antibodies to neutralize pathogens. Some recent studies suggest that astaxanthin can increase antibody production like the one conducted with the participation of 40 trained male soccer players who were randomly assigned 4mg of astaxanthin for 90 days. After this period, results showed an increase in salivary antibody (lga), which protect against microbes that reproduce in body secretions. (4)
Because of the antioxidant power in astaxanthin, people may take it as a way to manage illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, Parkinson's disease, aging, and eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration. Furthermore, astaxanthin's anti-inflammatory properties can potentially alleviate illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis and Carpal tunnel syndrome.
There are many great reasons to add astaxanthin to your daily supplementation regimen. What are yours? How will it help you?