AstafermTM Gummies: Astaxanthin and Vitamin C for antioxidant protection in a vegan-friendly gummy

Gummies with 12mg astaxanthin have a deep red color. Image used with permission from NextFerm Technologies Ltd.

Part of our body’s homeostasis is a well-maintained balance between the oxidative compounds that are derived from molecular oxygen (i.e Reactive Oxygen Species-ROS) and the antioxidant defense in the body. This is, in fact, a natural positive balance that allows ROS to perform their physiological role without causing collateral damage to cells. This balance can be broken temporarily in circumstances, such as intense physical effort, injury, or flu, but also continuously in conditions, such as advanced age, pollution, chronic disease, etc. Once broken, extensive cellular damage is observed, leading to slow recovery from temporal damage or even chronic morbidity that is associated with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, or rheumatoid arthritis (Mironczuk-Chodakowska 2018).

Dietary antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C, carotenoids, and polyphenols play a major role in maintaining the homeostasis of the oxidative balance. Additionally, a reduced dietary antioxidant intake is associated with oxidative stress and inflammation (Helmersson et al., 2009). Therefore, nutritional antioxidants can decrease lipid and protein oxidation, potentially encouraging quicker recovery and protecting against deterioration to chronic inflammation and diseases. A practical approach to supplementing the diet would therefore be based on a daily intake of both vitamin C and astaxanthin. Such intake may come in a form of a softgel, tablet or a gummy.

While gummies represent a popular form of supplement intake, the use of astaxanthin in a gummy matrix has been crippled by its physical limitations (mainly odor, flavor, and texture) that are direct results of its traditional source (algae) and the extraction process.  Recent advancements in fermentation technology have made possible for a new form of astaxanthin to emerge. That form of astaxanthin—branded as AstafermTM by NextFerm—is having multiple advantages over the generic algae-derived astaxanthin, mainly with its high potency and favorable flavor, as well as its texture profile. Hence, a desirable antioxidant duo of vitamin C and astaxanthin is now been offered in a variety of potency levels in gummies for the first time. These gummies are pectin-based, vegan friendly and contain 10 calories per gummy only.


The Importance of Astaxanthin and Vitamin C Supplementation

Choosing an optimal antioxidant supplementation strategy may involve two important elements that are affected by the onset of ROS accumulation and the risks associated with it to the integrity and functionality of every living cell. These are the cytoplasm (i.e the inter-cellular fluid that contains among others: nutrients, proteins, and signal messengers) and the cellular membrane and all the molecules and macro-structures associated with it. We have found that a combination of astaxanthin and vitamin C may well be that optimal combination.

Astaxanthin* – Considered as the most powerful antioxidant. It integrates into every living cell’s membrane and provides a pivotal antioxidant defense against lipid peroxidation and is therefore crucial for the cell’s integrity and functionality.

Vitamin C** – A ubiquitous water-soluble antioxidant. It offers a broad cytoplasmic antioxidative protection including the ability to regenerate other antioxidants such as vitamin E.

A reasonable conclusion could therefore be that a combination of vitamin C and astaxanthin may serve as a good strategy to maintain a good health, prevent the deterioration of chronic inflammatory diseases, and potentially even support a balanced immune response. Additionally, since both antioxidants are present in specific microenvironment in cells’ compartments, it may well be that a combination of astaxanthin and vitamin C can improve the antioxidant effect of both.

Supportive evidence for this hypothesis was demonstrated in several studies that tested the effect of such combinations in different models. In ex-vivo human neutrophils model, the association of astaxanthin with vitamin C greatly improved neutrophil phagocytic capacity, decreasing all reactive oxygen species measured, pro-inflammatory IL-1b and TNF-a release.  The association of astaxanthin and vitamin C promoted a significant improvement in the function of neutrophils and in the redox status (Guerra et al., 2012). Vitamin C has been also shown to augment the activity of astaxanthin in suppression of oxidative damage secondary to Helicobacter pylori infection in mouse model (Wang et al., 2000), showing the beneficial effect of the combination of these antioxidants through an altered immune response.

Numerous models of chronic syndromes and diseases have studied the effect of oxidative stress and related diseases. One such example is age-related macular degeneration (ADM) that is closely related to increased reactive oxidative species. The antioxidative effect of combination of vitamin C and astaxanthin was also studied on such retinal pigment epithelium cells model (ARPE-19 cells). Both vitamin C and astaxanthin had significant antioxidative effects on ARPE-19 cells after oxidative stress induction, with “synergistic” effect for the mixture of the two compounds (Oh 2019).


The Technology Behind Astaferm: The first fermented astaxanthin

In nature there are several microorganisms that are capable of naturally expressing astaxanthin as a means for self-preservation against external stressors, such as cold temperature or intense UV radiation. These include bacteria, microalgae, and yeast. Of these three, yeast (Phaffia Rhodzyme) fermentation has only been recently introduced as a source for dietary astaxanthin and that is through the commercial launch of AstafermTM by NextFerm.

Fermentation is the natural process that, since the dawn of ages, has been used by humans for the making of alcohol and bread. It is essentially happening when yeast utilizes sugar and other nutrients to survive, multiply quickly and efficiently and to create large biomass. We then use yeast’s large biomass or its fermentation’s byproducts for our dietary needs.

The science and technology of fermentation hold another great promise for mankind, and that is sustainability. The use of closed vessels confined in a relatively small space is highly advantageous over open-field technologies as it utilizes minimal resources of land, water, and electricity, and also minimizes batch-to-batch or seasonal inconsistencies as well as the impact of environmental pollutants.

NextFerm has developed a revolutionary technology that takes this ancient wisdom of fermentation to the next level by using a natural yeast species called Phaffia rhodzyme. Its controlled fermentation process allows large biomass containing astaxanthin to grow and propagate. That biomass is then harvested and astaxanthin extracted as a powder that is ideal for human nutrition. Specifically, for the case of gummies, it comes as a high-potency powder with no flavor or odor, all of which are ideal traits for gummies and other flavor-challenging applications.


The Use of Pectin Gummy Matrix for the Technology

While AstafermTM or vitamin C could be used in multiple applications and gummy matrixes, including those of animal-derived gelatin or Pectin, we have chosen Pectin as the base for a great-tasting, all-natural, vegan-friendly gummy matrix, which will satisfy what vast majority of consumers and their families are looking for. In this product, we have designed that each gummy would contain 100mg Vitamin C (110% RDA) and up to 12mg of astaxanthin. Here is a Supplement facts panel for this product:

Image courtesy of NextFerm.

Content paid for and provided by NextFerm.

* 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.


Further Reading:

* Astaxanthin is a safe, natural molecule with strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Consequently, It is considered having a variety of health-promoting properties, astaxanthin was shown to have an antioxidant property several fold greater than other carotenoids.  Following administration, it is positioned in the cellular membranes, incorporated into the lipid bilayer of the plasma membrane, and this position allows it to easily quench ROS within and at the membrane surface, protecting cells’ integrity and functionality. The potent antioxidant activity of astaxanthin has been observed to modulate diverse biological functions ranging from eliminating lipid peroxidation to tissue protection against UV light damage (Pashkow, 2008, Yang 2013).

Astaxanthin was widely studied and demonstrated as efficacious in numerus clinical health benefits such as: maintaining antioxidant balance, anti-inflammation, sports nutrition (mitigating effects on endurance, sports performance and heat stress), anti-diabetic, skin health, prevention of CVD, brain and eye health (Yang 2013, Ambati et al., 2014).


** Vitamin C is an essential micronutrient, with important antioxidant properties (Frei et al., 1989) that protects the body’s cells from free radical damage. Unlike the lipophilic astaxanthin, Vitamin C is the body’s most important intercellular and extracellular aqueous phase antioxidant. This antioxidant easily scavengers peroxyl radicals, superoxide anion, singlet oxygen and hypochlorite (Sies and Stahl, 1995) and its presence in the cytosol of immune cells can be understood as an important protective role against the action of reactive species produced by neutrophils (Guaiquil et al., 2001; Wang et al., 1997).  Vitamin C plays an important role in a number of metabolic functions including the activation of the B vitamin, folic acid, reactivation of other vitamins, such as vitamin E, the conversion of cholesterol to bile acids and the conversion of the amino acid, tryptophan, to the neurotransmitter, serotonin. In addition to its biosynthetic and antioxidant functions, vitamin C plays an important role as a therapeutic agent in many diseases and disorders, of which the most widely known health beneficial effect of vitamin C is in the prevention and relief of common cold (Jacob et al., 2002; Maeng et al., 2009).  



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