Astaxanthin – Nature’s Sunscreen

by admin on June 27, 2014

Astaxanthin – Internal Sunscreen for Skin: Nature’s Pigment of Life

Did you know that inadequate sun exposure causes an increase in the deadly skin cancer melanoma? And that getting sufficient amounts of sun exposure to our skin has been shown to decrease skin cancers? Several studies have demonstrated this. Reality is, we originated under the sun, we need its exposure. Without it, a vitamin D deficiency causes an increase is all types of cancer. The key is to get enough without sunburning. It is no different than our requirement for exercise, we need it daily, but too much and ours body breaks down. We must find a balance in everything, that porridge that is just right so to say.


Most sunscreens contain chemicals that block UVB rays and not UVA. There are two big issues here.

1. The UVB rays are exactly what we need from sun to produce vitamin D. UVA gets through most sunscreens which does not provide vitamin D but does damage our skin with overexposure. If we were going to be overexposed to the sun, blocking the full spectrum, UVA and UVB, is necessary.

2. The chemicals used in sunscreens are toxic and can actually damage skin cells, contributing to cancer. These are chemicals like oxybenzone, which has an extremely low molecular mass and will be absorbed into the bloodstream. Once in our bloodstream, oxybenzone acts as a xenoestrogen, attaching to our estrogen receptors. This brings our hormones out of balance, further prompting cancer through the body and lowering our quality of life.

Since we know that most sunscreens actually contribute to skin cancer and vitamin D deficiency (again, this increases all cancers), what do we do about unavoidable overexposure to intense sunlight?



Beautiful Flamingo

Our bodies have the amazing ability to adapt, and in that adaptation process, our bodies will get full use of everything in our environment. All animals have this ability. Let us use the flamingo as an example. This bird stands in full sun all day and never gets a sunburn in its life. How? It uses nature. The flamingo consumes organisms (shrimp and other crustaceans) which produce the powerful UV protecting pigment astaxanthin.  In the flamingo’s case, the pigment is stored in the feathers to protect the underlying skin.  It also travels through the blood and is stored in the skin and eyes which protects and keeps these tissues young in full daily sun exposure.


School Of Krill

Indeed, astaxanthin is the powerful pigment that gives flamingos their beautiful color.  Astaxanthin enters the food chain thanks to the simplest organisms (certain algae, plankton and yeasts) ability to manufacture it. From there it is consumed into the food chain and every bit of this pigment is used by the fortunate creatures that find it in their diet. Aside from the microorganisms from whence it comes, astaxanthin is found in the tissues of krill, salmon, arctic shrimp, trout and other crustaceans.


Fortunately, astaxanthin is utilized just as effectively in the human organism! In fact, better so than most other carotenoids like beta-carotene or lycopene. Why? Well astaxanthin is a much more powerful antioxidant in our tissues than beta-carotene or lycopene. It very effectively protects all of our cells against UV damage from the sun. Even more importantly, astaxanthin is distributed into our tissues much more effectively. Astaxanthin is stored in the skin, brain, eyes, muscles and organs. Lycopene and beta-carotene are stored in the skin, which is good, but they do not make it into the brain tissue or the retina of the eye! Our brains do not get antioxidant benefit and our eyes are left to degenerate under the stress of UV exposure.

One of my favorite things about astaxanthin is that with a high oral dosage, your skin will actually show a new healthy tint of color due to the pigment accumulation in the skin. I read a great study demonstrating that humans actually find this carotenoid induced skin color change as more attractive than a tan derived from sun exposure!  [1].  Astaxanthin is indeed a beauty pigment.


Consume as little as 2 mg per day of astaxanthin, and it will begin to deposit evenly into all human tissues. This includes skin, brain, eyes, organs and muscles. This is where oral supplementation really shines. Aside from its sunscreen effects, astaxanthin has numerous disease preventing effects all through the body through its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. When present in the body, over time astaxanthin will help prevent cardiovascular disease, cancer, regulate blood sugar, increase athletic capacity, preserve eye health and prevent wrinkles in the skin. Studies show that astaxanthin is diminished much faster in the bodies of smokers. This tells us that the astaxanthin is being used by the body to protect its cells from the oxidative effects of smoking. The more stress on the body, the more astaxanthin it can burn through. One study showed that astaxanthin protects smokers from the damage induced by smoking in a dose dependent manner [2].  This is only a brief description of what astaxanthin has been studied to benefit in the body, we are only beginning to learn what this pigment does for our bodies.

When getting ready for a day at the lake or something similar, we may want extra protection on top of our oral consumption of astaxanthin. Logically, topical application on the skin has been studied to bring powerful immediate UV protection. This is the sunscreen we should be lathering on in place of that bottle of smelly estrogenic chemicals. It is a no brainer really.. Rub toxic chemicals on or rub on the health bringing natural pigment.


Many astaxanthin studies have shown benefit at many dosages. The lowest I would want to go for health benefits is 4 milligrams. On the high end I do not believe you need much more than 15 milligrams. Keep in mind astaxanthin is completely non toxic and safe. You could safely dose even higher than this.


So we know that astaxanthin wins hands down as a natural sunscreen over any chemical. It accumulates into all of our tissues and prevents disease. Astaxanthin is one of my top beauty nutrients and has also been studied to improve athletic performance. I have been taking 10 mg/day orally and using it in place of sunscreen for years now (topically as well on full days of intense sun) with great benefit. I will have astaxanthin in my diet for as long as I live. It is a powerful shield against all stresses and is a pigment very close to my heart as it has stained my tissues through many tough times.


I purchase my astaxanthin, both oral and topical from!

derma e Age-Defying Night Crème with Astaxanthin and Pycnogenol – (Amazon)

Nature’s Bounty Astaxanthin, 60 Count – (Amazon)



1. You Are What You Eat: Within-Subject Increases in Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Confer Beneficial Skin-Color Changes

2. Protective Effects of Haematococcus Astaxanthin on Oxidative Stress in Healthy Smokers.



{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

vera pic March 21, 2017 at 7:51 am

Hi! Pycnogenol or Astaxanthin? which one is the best? Thanks.


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