You may realize that what you eat impacts how you feel; when you eat healthy you have more energy and feel better. You may also notice that what you eat often impacts how you look; healthy food can help your skin look fresh and clear, and may give you a little more “glow” than you otherwise might exhibit.
Interestingly enough, there have been a few clinical studies conducted demonstrating that taking an antioxidant call astaxanthin orally can improve the way you look. For more information about astaxanthin, see this article: Astaxanthin: The Wrinkle-Preventing Wonder Compound.
In 2002, a study was done in Japan with women who each consumed 2mg of astaxanthin and 40mg of Vitamin E per day for 4 weeks. After only 2 weeks of oral supplementation the women showed improvement in almost every skin attribute measured. After 4 weeks there was even further improvement. Some of the benefits of astaxanthin supplementation with Vitamin E included the reduction of fine lines and pimples, increased skin elasticity, increased moisture, more consistent natural oils, fewer freckles, and less under-eye puffiness.
This study was double-blind and placebo controlled with female subjects with a median age of 40 years old. The placebo group received indentical-looking capsules to the astaxanthin/Vitamin E group. Both groups were inspected by dermatologists who did not know which capsule their patients had received (hence double-blind: neither the women taking the capsules nor the dermatologists examining them knew which capsule they were taking throughout the trial). Women were measured objectively by standardized methods including dermatologist inspection, magnified skin surface inspection, skin moisture, sebum content, and a questionnaire. Furthermore, the placebo group did not show improvement and actually tended to show decreases in skin measurements.
Another study done later in 30 healthy women age 20-55 found similar results. These women took only astaxanthin orally (6mg per day), and also topically applied a liquid containing astaxanthin. After 8 weeks, the women showed improvements in wrinkles (decreased crow’s feet), the decreased size of age spots, improved elasticity, improved skin texture, increased moisture, and increased skin appearance. This study, however, was an open-label non-controlled study.
At the same time and as part of this later study, a trial was conducted on 36 healthy men aged 20-60. In this study, 6mg of astaxanthin was administered orally, without any other supplement or topical solution. This trial was double-blind and placebo-controlled and demonstrated similar results as the other studies, with the men taking the astaxanthin showing decreased crow’s feet wrinkles, increased skin elasticity, greater moisture, and improvements in skin sebum oil levels.
Other Studies in Canada and Europe
Similar studies to the Japanese studies have also been done in Canada and Europe. In Canada, females aged 35 to 55 given supplements of astaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids showed improvements in all skin criteria measured. The study concluded that astaxanthin does offer benefits as an internal beauty supplement. In the European study, participants taking 5mg of astaxanthin per day, along with two other ingredients, showed improvements in dermis density, the decreased appearance of fine lines, and the visible improvement in overall skin appearance.
Astaxanthin does far more than improve your appearance. It is a powerful antioxidant that has a whole range of benefits, from helping promote the defense of your skin from the effects of sun exposure, to fighting the appearance of aging, to supporting your normal inflammatory response, to being protective for your eyes and healthy for your skin and body in general. Of course, these are some of the reasons why astaxanthin is included in Sunsafe Rx. You can find more research showing astaxanthin supports your skin during sun exposure on this page: The Science of Antioxidine.
Yamashita et al. Cosmetic Benefit of Dietary Supplements Containing Astaxanthin and Tocotrienol on Human Skin. Food Style 21 6(6):112-17. 2002.
Tominaga et al. Cosmetic benefits of astaxanthin on human subjects. ACTA Biochimica Polonica Vol. 59, No 1/2012 43–47.