Last year I wrote an article about astaxanthin, a plant bioflavinoid known to benefit the eyes. A carotenoid, astaxanthin is derived from the red-orange pigment found in microalgae, fish and crustaceans. Astaxanthin is considered superior to other carotenoids including those found in carrots, squash and other yellow vegetables because it's a more potent antioxidant.
In the past year, the celebrity physician Mehmet Oz, MD, has recommended using astaxanthin for its benefits to immune system and cardiovascular health and for its ability to prevent various cancers and metabolic syndrome. Its cardiovascular benefits have prompted pharmaceutical companies to urge for removing its dietary supplement status and patenting it for use as prescription drug.
In particular, astaxanthin promotes the strength of heart muscle and helps regulate the blood circulation. In addition, it prevents the build-up of glycation products (that result from reactions between sugar and protein molecules) that cause us to age.
Studies show that astaxanthin reduces markers of oxidative stress and inflammation while reducing systolic blood pressure in patients with metabolic syndrome. The supplement's effect on reducing arterial stiffness is the focus of current studies. A dose of 4-6 mg daily is recommended to support eye health. Between 6-18 mg are indicated for management of metabolic syndrome, and 40 mg is used to mitigate H pylori-induced gastritis.
Source: Gail Richardson, "Beyond Eye Health, How Astaxanthin Combats Degenerative Disease," Life Extension, July 2011: 55-62.