Unbiased astaxanthin reviews or reviews which are not self promoting (whether online or on tv) are hard to find. Many times they're nothing more than traps for catching customers or clicks for products, offering little value to the sites visitors.
Recently, Dr. Oz (a very well run and well respected show and website) featured a guest - Dr. Joe Mercola - expounding on the endless virtues of astaxanthin and why you should begin using it. What Dr. Oz nor Dr. Mercola mentioned is the latter sells astaxanthin on his website and thus has a vested interest in promoting it.
Does this mean you shouldn't take astaxanthin? Of course it doesn't... but that said, we want to show you what wasn't stated about astaxanthin and how various astaxanthin supplements differ.
To begin with, many companies produce the natural form of astaxanthin from Haematococcus microalgae, while others use Phaffia yeast. There are some alternatives that are non-microalgae based, (aside from salmon, directly) but research has shown do not approach the quality in health benefits provided by Haematococcus based versions.
With all of this in mind, let's explore the primary three sources for astaxanthin supplementation today:
Astaxanthin - Sythetic
Even though synthetic astaxanthin is the most popular form sold, the catch is this: you can't buy it for direct human consumption.
No country has approved it for humans, thus it's primarily purchased for animal food. Of course, that makes it no surprise farm-raised salmon are a huge source for synthetic astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin - derived from Phaffia Yeast
Producing astaxanthin from Phaffia Rhodozyma is not very cost effective since natural Phaffia contains only 300ppm of astaxanthin.
On the other hand, commercially purposed mutated Phaffia produces 20 times the amount than the natural form. The downside here is the process used contains high levels of genetic manipulation and thus the end result isn't the same beneficial level as natural astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin - derived from Animal and Botanical Sources in Food
As mentioned earlier, farm raised (not wild) salmon are a major source of synthetic astaxanthin. If you are eating farm raised salmon then you are also eating synthetic astaxanthin with a very small chance of consuming Haematococcus astaxanthin. This is the problem with the farm raised salmon available in the market. Even though you consume a huge amount of synthetic astaxanthin, less than a percent is natural form. What's more, the farm raised salmon have a very low level of Omega-3's which has been widely reported for positive health benefits.
Putting it all Together
The current method for measuring natural astaxanthin is fairly hard to understand. Until a proper scale/measurement procedure is found, you simply need to be more cautious about what you buy.
Now, let us take a look at the six most popular astaxanthin supplements (natural) available in market (source: Amazon.com)
BioAstin Natural astaxanthin Gold (4mg): BioAstin is the most popular brand for natural astaxanthin. No synthetic source is used for its production, only Hawaiian microalgae. So naturally it's free from GMOs, Titanium Dioxide and Silica. For further purity, it contains no toxins, herbicides or pesticides.
Source Natural astaxanthin (2mg): A powerful antioxidant, It's also proven to prevent low density lipoprotein oxidation in our blood.
Solgar-astaxanthin Complex (5mg): Another popular brand for natural astaxanthin which does not contain any corn, yeast, dairy products, wheat, preservatives, added color/sugar, salt or starch.
Solaray-astaxanthin (1mg): Solaray's natural astaxanthin provides nutrition to the circulatory system, eyes, immune system and muscles.
Astavita-astaxanthin-Super Carotenoid Antioxidant: This brand of astaxanthin is produced from deep red Haematococcus microalgae. Microalgae turn red once they are deprived of water, producing red astaxanthin that protects against UV rays.
Pure astaxanthin (120sg): Pure's astaxanthin is produced from Hawaiian Haematicoccus microalgae (pluvialis).
As always, consult a physician before embarking on any specific supplement regimen.