Image for Astaxanthin
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • 3,3'-Dihydroxy-4,4'-diketo-beta-carotene, 3,3'-dihydroxy-beta,beta'-caroten-4,4'-dione, 3R,3'R-astaxanthin, 3R,3'S-astaxanthin, 3S,3'S-astaxanthin, Agrobacterium aurantiacum, alpha-carotene, Antarctic krill, AST, AstaCarox®, AstaFactor® Rejuvenating Formula, AstaFactor® Sports Formula, Astavita AstaREAL®, astaxanthin diester, astaxanthin dilysinate tetrahydrochloride, astaxanthin-amino acid conjugate, astaxanthine, Astaxin®, ASX, Atlantic salmon, basidiomycete yeast, beta-carotene, Botryococcus braunii, canthaxanthin, canthoxanthin, Cardax®, carotenoid, CDX-085, Chlorella zofingiensis, Chlorococcum spp., crayfish, crustaceans, DDA, disodium disuccinate astaxanthin, E161j, Euphausia superba, fatty acids, flamingo, gamma-tocopherol, green microalgae, Haematococcus algae extract, Haematococcus pluvialis, homochiral (3S,3'S)-astaxanthin, krill, lutein, lycopene, meso-3R,3'S isomer, meso-astaxanthin, microalgae, nonesterified astaxanthin, non-provitamin A carotenoid, omega-3 fatty acids, ovoester, Phaffia rhodozyma, propolis, quail, red carotenoid, retinoid, salmon, shrimp, sockeye salmon, storks, terpenoids, tetrahydrochloride dilysine astaxanthin salt, tomato, trout, wild salmon, Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous, xanthophylls.


  • Astaxanthin is a naturally occurring carotenoid found in nature primarily in marine organisms such as microalgae, salmon, trout, krill, shrimp, crayfish, and crustaceans. The green microalga Haematococcus pluvialis is considered the richest source of astaxanthin. Other microalgae, such as Chlorella zofingiensis, Chlorococcum spp., and Botryococcus braunii, also contain astaxanthin. It may also be found in the feathers of birds, such as quail, flamingo, and storks, as well as in propolis, the resinous substance collected by bees.
  • Carotenoids are well known for their therapeutic benefits in the aging process and various diseases, because of their antioxidant properties. Astaxanthin is a xanthophyll carotenoid like lutein, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthin, which do not convert to vitamin A.
  • According to a review, carotenoids are of interest based on their beneficial mechanisms of action for cancers, cardiovascular disease, age-related macular degeneration, and cataract formation. Numerous studies support the use of astaxanthin as a potent antioxidant that may be beneficial in decreasing the risks of certain chronic diseases. It may also reduce oxidative stress in the nervous system, reducing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. Additionally, astaxanthin has well-documented anti-inflammatory and immune-stimulating effects.
  • Human trials have been conducted in disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, dyspepsia (with or without Helicobacter pylori infection), hyperlipidemia, male infertility, and skin conditions, and regarding exercise capacity, muscle soreness, and transplants. However, results have been mixed, and more research is needed in these areas before any firm conclusions can be drawn.


  • Content available for subscribers only.


The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

  • Content available for subscribers only.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

  • Content available for subscribers only.


Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Author Information

  • Content available for subscribers only.


Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to Selected references are listed below.

  • Content available for subscribers only.
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.