“Eat the rainbow!” has become the dietary code of many health-conscious individuals. And because of the large number of delicious red fruits and vegetables – raspberries, strawberries, cherries, watermelon, peppers, beets and tomatoes – this colorful group of vegetation is especially appealing.
Turns out many red foods are full of antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, lycopene and vitamin C, which have been linked to many benefits for the body. But there’s another red food you may not know about that’s becoming a “must” in many households: astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin, like its fellow red foods, is a valuable and powerful antioxidant source. A naturally occurring substance, astaxanthin – the carotenoid or fat-soluble plant pigment that gives salmon and other shellfish their pink or red colors – is found in salmon, lobster, crab and crawfish, as well as in krill oil and algae. It’s even been detected in the feathers of some birds, such as flamingos. Because many people recognize their diets are fish and seafood deficient, they find it convenient to obtain astaxanthin in supplement form.
Here are three ways you can add more astaxanthin to your diet:
Softgels. Vitacost® Natural Astaxanthin features the astaxanthin from the red algae known as Haematococcus pluvialis. Research has demonstrated that astaxanthin supports a healthy cardiovascular system and contributes to healthy blood lipids.* It also has been shown to promote a healthy immune system and healthy immune response.*
Salmon oil. In addition to being a good source of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, and other fatty acids, salmon oil is a good source of astaxanthin. In its natural trigliceride form, salmon oil, for many, is easily digestible – lessening the burping often associated with many fish oil supplements – and is usually well absorbed in the body.
Combination formulas. Various formulas pair astaxanthin with other nutrients. Vitacost® Astaxanthin Super Formula contains CoQ10, a vitamin-like compound the mitochondria in every cell use to produce energy. It functions as an antioxidant. This supplement also contains a blend of organic flaxseed and borage seed oils – plant-source fatty acids which can supplement diets low in fish intake – and natural cranberry oil, which contains eight isomers of vitamin E plus phospholipids.
Another supplement, Schiff Omega-3 Krill Oil, offers astaxanthin in phospholipid form to ensure no fishy aftertaste.
Do you have a favorite way of preparing and using salmon or other astaxanthin-containing foods in your meals? Share your feedback with us in the comments below.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Laurie Steelsmith, ND, LAc, is a naturopathic physician and licensed acupuncturist who specializes in women’s health. She is the co-author of Great Sex, Naturally: Every Woman’s Guide to Enhancing Her Sexuality Through the Secrets of Natural Medicine and co-author of Natural Choices for Women’s Health: How the Secrets of Natural and Chinese Medicine Can Create a Lifetime of Wellness.