Astaxanthin for Sun Protection
Astaxanthin is commonly been referred to as an internal sunscreen, or sunscreen in a pill. It has earned this reputation by prolonging the time it takes for your skin to burn in direct sunlight. To understand how astaxanthin can do this, we need to understand what Astaxanthin is first.
When a specific type of algae strain called haematococcus pluvialis is put under stress, it excretes a pigment called astaxanthin to protect itself. This red pigment acts like a forcefield around the algae, protecting it from environmental stresses such as a change in water temperature or exposure to direct UV light from the sun. This algae is responsible for the red colour of salmon, lobster, flamingos, crabs and other such marine life.
When breaking down astaxanthin to understand how it works, researchers found it has incredible antioxidant properties which explains its ability to protect the skin from the sun. Antioxidants work to mop up free radicals, which are unstable molecules without a paired electron that can cause cell damage and inflammation.
Sunburn is a perfect example of inflammation you can see. Redness, pain or discomfort and warm to touch are all typical signs of inflammation. The UV rays from the sun over time will damage skin cells and cause sunburn.
Further scientific study of astaxanthin in human, animal and cellular models has demonstrated it enhances sun protection and reduces UV damage that causes skin to burn and age. Subjects taking astaxanthin showed an increase time to redness under exposure to UV light compared with the placebo. The astaxanthin group also had a less loss of skin moisture in the area exposed to the light.
Taking astaxanthin could be a great option for those with sensitive skin that burn within a few minutes or those that spend significant amounts of time outside, working or playing sports and can’t be applying sunscreen constantly. However if you know you’ll be spending an extended period of time in harsh sunlight, sunscreen is still recommended.