The Athlete’s Dozen: The 12 Clinically Validated Benefits of Astaxanthin for Athletes
- Improves recovery after exercise
- Increases strength and power output
- Improves endurance
- Improves performance in timed racing events
- Decreases heart rate during endurance training
- Reduces joint and muscle soreness after exercise
- Enhances energy metabolism
- Prevents muscle (physical) fatigue
- Reduces mental fatigue and improves mood state
- Reduces lactic acid levels after exercise
- Helps prevent muscle damage and inflammation
- Reduces exercise-induced free radical production (1)
Eighteen different human clinical trials demonstrate 12 ways that Natural Astaxanthin from algae can help athletes and active people. And there are 35 different pre-clinical studies corroborating these clinical trials. It’s really quite amazing that a single molecule can be so effective in so many different ways, but it’s true.
The first studies in this area began slowly in the 1990s, but the pace has accelerated. Over the last three years, there have been six new human trials and eight new pre-clinical studies. Here, we will take a look at some highlights from the research.
Competitive Cyclists Made Faster with Higher Power Output by Astaxanthin: Gatorade sponsored a four-week study to see if Natural Astaxanthin could make competitive cyclists faster and stronger. Subjects took the very minimum dose generally recommended by Astaxanthin experts: 4mg per day. The researchers tested the cyclists in a 20-kilometer time trial before and after supplementation. These were not average people, but highly trained, competitive cyclists; even marginal improvement from a supplement regimen would be an excellent result in this particular group of subjects. At the end of four weeks, the placebo group showed no improvement in their cycling times. However, the cyclists taking Natural Astaxanthin were on average 5% faster. In addition, their power output increased by 15% (2). In just four weeks and at a relatively low dosage, Natural Astaxanthin made these competitive cyclists significantly faster and stronger. Any athlete would love to have these fantastic results from just taking one small capsule each day.
Muscle Inflammation and Recuperation in Elite Soccer Players: This study looked at the effect of Astaxanthin supplementation on 40 young elite soccer players in Europe. The study was randomized and placebo-controlled; it spanned 90 days of supplementation with 4mg of Astaxanthin per day for the treatment group. Results showed significant improvements in those taking Astaxanthin in inflammation levels, immune system function and—most importantly for athletes—in muscle recuperation. The researchers concluded that Astaxanthin “attenuates muscle damage, thus preventing inflammation induced by rigorous physical training.” They hypothesized that the mechanism of action may be that Astaxanthin “protects the cell membranes against free radicals generated during heavy exercise, thus preserving the functionality of muscle cells” (3).
Recovery from Exercise and Muscle Fatigue: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study in Japan measured recovery from exercise in healthy volunteers. Both the placebo and the Astaxanthin groups did progressively greater loads in a stepwise exercise. Again, the dosage was low (5mg per day), and remarkably, the study duration was extremely short (two weeks). All parameters tested showed significant improvements in the treatment group taking Natural Astaxanthin. Metabolism during exercise became more efficient, respiratory-circulatory ability improved, and anti-fatigue and antioxidant profiles were augmented. These results led the researchers to conclude that recovery ability from exercise stress may be improved by taking Astaxanthin (4).
Reduced Muscle Fatigue from Lactic Acid Buildup During Exercise: Lactic acid builds up during physical exertion and causes burning in the muscles and fatigue. A study in Japan had healthy adult men take 6mg of Astaxanthin daily for four weeks. Researchers had both the placebo and the Astaxanthin group run 1200 meters and tested their lactic acid levels before and after running at the beginning of the study (before supplementation began). They repeated this at the end of the study and found a statistically significant reduction in lactic acid buildup due to exercise in the men taking Astaxanthin. The result was excellent: a 28.6% reduction in lactic acid on average from taking 6mg of Natural Astaxanthin per day for a month (5).
Decreased Heart Rate by 10% during Endurance Training: This study looked at a unique benefit for athletes. It’s long been known that Astaxanthin supports cardiovascular health and that it helps athletes, but this recent double-blind, placebo-controlled study combined these two benefits in a single study by looking at whether Astaxanthin can decrease heart rate while athletes were doing long-distance running. The study featured 12mg of AstaZine Natural Astaxanthin (from BGG) over eight weeks. Results were excellent; Astaxanthin effectively lowered the heart rate by 10% and allowed the athletes to do the same amount of work at a significantly lower cardio usage, suggesting a “cardiotonic effect” (6).
Improved Mood State and Decreased Mental Fatigue in Athletes While Training: The body is not the only thing that needs to be functioning well for athletes to compete effectively; many athletes say that the mind is equally important to the body for positive results in sports. The lead researcher in this study, Dr. Shawn Talbott, looked at another novel benefit for athletes: how Astaxanthin can affect the mind during training. He gave the treatment group 12mg per day of AstaZine® Natural Astaxanthin (from BGG) over eight weeks and found a 57% decrease in feelings of depression; a 36% decrease in mental fatigue; and an 11% increase in overall mood state (how the athletes were feeling mentally). In addition, there were trends toward improvements in feelings of tension, anger, confusion and vigor that did not attain statistical significance (7). A patent is pending for this innovative benefit.
Astaxanthin is well documented to help the bodies as well as the minds of athletes and active people. Anyone competing in sports, exercising regularly, plus people doing hard physical work should consider supplementing with Natural Astaxanthin on a daily basis.
Note: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher and editors of WholeFoods Magazine.
1) Capelli, B., Ding, L. (2018). “Natural Astaxanthin: The Supplement You Can Feel.” ISBN: 978-0-9992223-0-0
2) Earnest, CP., Lupo, M., White, KM., Church, TS. (2011). “Effect of Astaxanthin on Cycling Time Trial Performance.” International Journal of Sports Medicine 2011 Nov;32(11):882-8.
3) Baralic, I., Andjelkovic, M., Djordjevic, B., Dikic,, N., Radivojevic, N., Suzin-Zivkovic,, V., Radojevic-Skodric, S., Pejic, S. (2015). “Effect of Astaxanthin supplementation on Salivary IgA, oxidative stress, inflammation in young soccer players.” Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2015;2015:783761.
4) Nagata, A., Tajima, T., Hamamatsu, H. (2003). “Effects of Astaxanthin on recovery from whole fatigue with three stepwise exercises.” Hiro to Kyuyo no Kagaku 2003 Vol. 18;No.1;Pages 35-46.
5) Sawaki, K., Yoshigi, H., Aoki, K., Koikawa, N., Azumane, A., Kaneko, K., Yamaguchi, M. (2002). “Sports performance benefits from taking natural Astaxanthin characterized by visual acuity and muscle fatigue improvement in humans.” Journal of Clinical Therapeutics & Medicines 2002 Vol.18;No.9;Pages1085-1100.
6) Talbott, S., Hantla, D., Capelli, B., Ding, L., Li, Y., Artaria, C. (2017). “Effect of Astaxanthin Supplementation on Cardiorespiratory Function in Runners.” Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine Vol. 49, No. 5, 3299, S705, June 2, 2017.
7) Talbott, S., Hantla, D., Capelli, B., Ding, L., Li, Y., Artaria, C. (2019). “Astaxanthin Supplementation Reduces Depression and Fatigue in Healthy Subjects.” EC Nutrition 14.3 (2019):239-246.