Dietary supplementation with astaxanthin may protect the skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation says a new study.
A study conducted over a 16 week period comprising 65 healthy women between the age of 35 and 60 found that astaxanthin (pronounced "asta-ZAN-thin") may protect women against wrinkles and loss of skin moisture, as well as improving skin elasticity, compared to a placebo.
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, reported:
"Long term astaxanthin supplementation may prophylactically inhibit skin deterioration induced over time by environmental damage and consequently retard the skin ageing process via it's anti-inflammatory effect."
Astaxanthin is a remarkably powerful free radical scavenger
It is important to note that the results of the study did not reveal a reversal of skin changes that pre-existed but rather astaxanthin was able to suppress the deterioration of the skin that developed over the course of the trial.
Mark Miller, a doctor commenting independently on the study, said:
"Astaxanthin is a cartenoid with the enigma of being a remarkably powerful free radical scavenger but yet whose dietary sources are limited.This study is further evidence that we need to seriously consider supplemental sources of astaxanthin, here to negate the damaging, pro-inflammatory effects of UV radiation."
The women involved in the study were randomly assigned to receive either a 6mg or 12mg dose of astaxanthin or a placebo daily over a period of 16 weeks.
The results of the study found that women taking the placebo experienced a worsening of wrinkles and skin moisture, while the astaxanthin suppressed these effects.
The levels of a pro-inflammatory marker increased in both the placebo and low dose astaxanthin groups but there were no increase in the 12 mg astaxanthin group.
Additional data from parallel studies conducted on cultured skin cells within a lab showed that astaxanthin inhibited the production of inflammatory compounds from skin cells upon exposure to UVB radiation.
The results showed that astaxanthin suppressed the effect of an enzyme that degrades collagen with the connective tissue matrix of the skin. Dr Miller called this data intriguing, commenting further to say:
"In essence, UVB radiation causes an inflammatory response in cells in the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin) that can leach in to the dermis (the deeper layers of the skin) and provoke further consequences and reactions that drive wrinkles and breakdown of the skin matrix. Astaxanthin was effect in suppressing this response."