Astaxanthin: A Powerhouse Nootropic for Brain Health and Performance

Astaxanthin: A Powerhouse Nootropic for Brain Health and Performance

Astaxanthin might just be one of the most underrated performance-enhancing nootropics. 

With a rich portfolio of impressive science behind it, astaxanthin's benefits extend beyond cognitive health. It has been found to enhance muscle performance, increase endurance, and aid in recovery. Astaxanthin can protect cells from oxidative stress, improve mitochondrial function, and support the immune system. It is also beneficial for eye health, particularly for gamers and individuals who spend long hours in front of screens.

To better understand the therapeutic scope of astaxanthin, I had the pleasure of speaking with Carlo Alberto Muratore, from industry-leading astaxanthin manufacturer, AstaReal®. Carlo expertly guides us through the specialised manufacturing techniques that yield the highest quality astaxanthin in the world, and the significant investments AstaReal® have made exploring astaxanthin’s true potential through research. 

Key Takeaways:

Episode Timestamps

[00:00] Introducing Carlo Alberto Muratore
[01:49] The AstaReal® difference
[04:55] Astaxanthin research for cognitive performance
[11:58] Astaxanthin research for athletic performance
[14:08] Astaxanthin research for the ageing brain
[17:01] The cumulative, cell-protecting potential of astaxanthin
[19:23] Astaxanthin promote mitochondrial health
[22:33] How astaxanthin supports healthy vision
[29:15] How astaxanthin promotes muscle strength and endurance
[31:53] Astaxanthin can help with DOMs (delayed onset muscles soreness)
[34:22] Can astaxanthin help over-training syndrome?
[35:35] Astaxanthin research for quality of life improvements in the elderly
[37:56] AstaReal®: Award-winning astaxanthin

Episode Transcript

0:00:00 - (Bec): Let's talk about the nootropic astaxanthin. This exciting compound has been the subject of a lot of research, with growing evidence supporting its efficacy in areas such as brain health, cognitive health, mental and physical performance, vision, and ageing. AstaReal® is a global leader in astaxanthin production and was the first company in the world to commercially produce it. It is also the only branded astaxanthin to be the subject of over 35 years of clinical research.

My guest today is Carlo Alberto Muratore, who is responsible for sales and brand awareness for AstaReal® in the Asia Pacific region, for parent company Fuji Chemical Industries. Originally from Italy, he has found his home in the vibrant city of Tokyo in Japan. As someone acutely responsible for the success of the AstaReal® brand in the Asia Pacific region, I invited Carlo in to have a chat to talk about this massive body of research that sits behind astaxanthin and the many ways that it can help support our health and well being.

(Bec): Thank you so much for joining me for this chat, Carlo. I am really excited to talk about this ingredient because I must admit when you and I first discussed it, I mean, I knew it was awesome. But from our discussions, I’ve realised just how deep the science runs and how amazing this ingredient is and how many opportunities there are for this, for the brain, nerves, vision, performance (etc). So thanks for taking the time to share the knowledge that you have.

(Carlo): Oh, thank you so much for having me here today. I'm happy to be here and let's see what we can talk about today. There's so much to talk about astaxanthin, so whatever you want to know about it, I'm happy to answer all the questions.

0:01:49 - (Bec): Yeah, I guess let's sort of set the scene. I mean, obviously, there's astaxanthin and then there's AstaReal®l astaxanthin. So let's start there. Talk us through who AstaReal® is and what makes the astaxanthin that you produce just so spectacular.

(Carlo): Yeah, as you said, there's astaxanthin and astaxanthin. There's many types of it. So when we talk about AstaReal®, as we know it, AstaReal® was born around 36 years ago in Europe. And at the time AstaReal® was basically born, it had a different name, of course, but it was born as a consequence of our team in Europe discovering these freshwater algae that in nature is green, and then it turns red when it's under stress.

So back in Sweden, those days, they have seen this freshwater pond with all these reddish looking algae, and they was wondering, what is this and what does it do? Or can we use it for humans? So that's how everything started, like, really long time ago. And flash forward to today. AstaReal® is one of the main players in the natural asaxanthin market. We manufacture our own algae from zero to hero, both in Sweden and in the USA. And then we have some added value extraction in Japan. 

Now, why AstaReal® astaxanthin is different from other types of astaxanthin in the market? The secret basically is in the way we manufacture it. There are several ways that you can produce astaxanthin from making it outside in freshwater ponds that are exposed to light and sun and weather….

(Bec): Changeable conditions, yeah?

(Carlo): Yeah, so basically, the production is influenced by the seasons. And if you have a bad season, your astaxanthin quality might be lower, or your yield might be lower than expected. 

Or there's what you call like, semi-outdoor production. So astaxanthin is manufactured inside glass pipes that can be outdoors. Now, in this case at least, the extract and the astaxanthin is protected from the environment and all the rain and the wind and the dust, but still, it is influenced by the season and the heat. In this case, the astaxanthin quality is, of course, higher than the freshwater ponds because it's a little bit more protected. But still, when the extraction happens, you might still have some of the algae that is not that ready to be extracted. 

And then you have the full-on indoor production that AstaReal® pioneered. And with the photobioreactors, imagine an enormous, basically, container full of LED lights and water flowing, and that's where our algae grows. And since it's 100% indoors; water is controlled, temperature is controlled, all the production conditions are standard and controlled throughout the entire production. So that's the reason why our extract is one of the highest purity extracts on the market, because we control everything from the beginning to the end of the cultivation. So nothing goes in and nothing comes out if we don't want it.

0:04:55 - (Bec): So one of the most exciting things about AstaReal® astaxanthin is your very rich profile of clinical and scientific studies. So the science behind this ingredient is just next level amazing. And I know it's got enormous potential for brain health, eye health, vision. What do you think is the most exciting piece of research that astaxanthin has?

(Carlo): Well, as you said, we have many, many clinical trials. We have more than 70 clinical trials on human health exclusively, which is a lot to say. 

So whenever you talk about astaxanthin, you can talk about all the aspects of human health. But one of the few things that I really like and I find the most compelling evidence and the most interesting science about is when it comes to cognitive performance. And the reason why I say that is because, well, I'm also a young professional, so everything that can help my brain to perform throughout the day and throughout complicated and stressful times, it's always something that catches my interest. 

So we have specifically a study that we made in our lab with some many participants here in Japan regarding the fact that astaxanthin can help during intense periods of mental and physical fatigue. When it comes to that study, specifically, we wanted to structure it in a way that resembles a very intense day or period of time.

So our participants were divided in groups and the placebo group, of course, didn't know they were not taking astaxanthin. So I want to make sure that everybody knows that this is a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. And the good part of it is that again, our participants were going through an intense brain-draining task, that was basically a calculus test called the Uchida Kraepalin test. And mind you, if you don't know this test, when I saw the charts, I was terrified already. Imagine like an A4 sheet of paper full of numbers and the participants had to continuously calculate adding numbers after numbers, for 15 minutes.

(Bec): Yes, that would be stressful for anyone.

(Carlo): Yeah, there will be a brain drain. But the thing is that it wasn't just 15 minutes, it was actually two times 15 minutes. So 15 minutes, short break, another 15 minutes. Then after a little bit of rest, around 1 hour of rest, our participants had to go through a physical load test. There was basically a half an hour ergometer biking test. To make sure how far they can go after their brain has been drained by the terrifying Uchida Kraepalin test.

(Bec): How did that go?

(Carlo): Well, the reason why I like this test is because the calculus test really drains your brain. So imagine a very intense day at work, or if you're a student, a very intense day at university or studying lectures, and then you have your life after it. Whether you go to the gym or you have a family, you have to take care of your kids, you have some grocery to do, some errands to do. So it's pretty an intense day. 

And the reason why I really like the results here is because we can divide the results in two parts. We can divide them in subjective symptoms of fatigue or what the participants perceived, and then we can have a look at the actual data coming from the test results of the calculus. And when we talk about symptoms of fatigue, we can say that the overall fatigue in the groups really had a split. The astaxanthin group fatigue improved over the course of the test and the placebo group, fatigue really didn't improve that much. But this is just overall what they felt.

If we want to go a little bit more in detail of actually how they felt and how they reported they felt, the mental fatigue, the physical fatigue aspect, were higher and better performing in the astaxanthin group. But the things that I like the most, is because most likely you might be familiar with that as well, because we work really hard. When you are physically or mentally drained, you start to be also irritated or your clarity of thinking, concentration, your mood, your motivation usually go down.

(Bec): Yep.

(Carlo): So if we have a particularly intense day at work or studying, chances are we might be a little bit grumpy the rest of the day.

(Bec): Yeah, it has a spillover effect into your life makes you snappy, moody, yeah.

(Carlo): Yeah. And so we have noticed that the participants that took astaxanthin, specifically in this case, twelve milligram a day, didn't see an increase in bad mood. So they were feeling better throughout the test, throughout, say, the day. And I think that this is relevant because of course hard data matters. You want to see the hard numbers, to see the performance. But the fact that this was a placebo study and the people taking astaxanthin felt better also helps us. Saying, okay, astaxanthin has some effect that we can measure, but it also has effects that you can actually feel and these are intangible.

(Carlo): So I think that this really adds value to the fact that astaxanthin works in these terms.

(Bec): Yeah. I totally agree. What I kind of love about this study when you first shared it with me, was that a) it makes something that's a nootropic or a ‘cognitive enhancing supplement’ kind of appealing, or shall we call it even “sexy” to people who aren't otherwise in an older generation who might be experiencing failures of memory and retention of information or even moodiness. 

This is very appealing to us from our teenage years, our twenties, thirties, forties. Some of those really intense years where you've got a lot of things going on. Mortgages, children, marriages, travel, work stress, study, all the things.

(Carlo): Yeah, there's a lot to handle and there's a lot that if we have something that helps us get through the day, in a sense, it's amazing already in a feeling-wise. 

And then the second part of the test, when we talk about the hard data, the numbers. We have seen that the placebo group compared to the astaxanthin group, saw numbers of mistake increasing between the first and the second part of the calculation test.

So what I like about this is that we are working, so yeah, if we make mistakes yeah, sure we make mistakes, but it's not the end of the world. But if you're a university student and you keep on making mistakes throughout the test, one extra mistake can be the difference between passing or failing a test.

(Bec): Yep. 

(Carlos):  And if you do specifically demanding work such as being a surgeon, being a doctor, being anything where you need your focus 100% for the entire performance of whatever you're doing, the difference between one small mistake and actually not making a mistakes can make a huge impact on the outcome of your job.

(Bec): Absolutely. Consider that for bus drivers, pilots…

(Carlo): Yeah.

(Bec): Things where critical split-second decision-making is literally a life-or-death circumstance. That's interesting. 

0:11:58 - (Carlo): Yeah. And I also like the fact that you can benefit, say, athletes, top performance athletes, say rugby players, tennis players, basketball players. Wherever you need your brain to be able to send signals to your body in a split second and your body has to move. 

(Bec): Yes. 

(Carlo): So when your brain is tired, the signal will be slower, so your body will be moving slower compared to what you would expect in a fresh situation.

So even if you're not a professional athlete, even if you're just a weekend warrior and you're playing rugby or soccer or whatever, you're playing with your friends, the difference between being able to react a split-second faster or not can make the difference between scoring or not.

(Bec): Absolutely. And there's actually you've also got data on the physicality of the message being sent, as in the protection around, or the protection that astaxanthin can provide in the cellular structures as well, which helps with that speed of delivery of messages?

(Carlo): Yeah, we have some data. We tested what happens to the signalling in the brain with astaxanthin. And we have noticed that astaxanthin can actually make the signalling a little faster or a little bit more efficient. So that not only your brain can recall information faster, but sending signals to your muscles can make them fire a little bit faster. 

Now, far from saying that you're going to be tomorrow like the champion in a 100-metre sprint, but still, if it makes a difference between catching a ball or not, I do believe it is really important. I have been playing futsal with my friends and I'm not a good player, but at least I know that I have something that helps me try to stop the ball from being in the goal or not. And then I know having a supplement that helps me to do that, it's quite interesting.

(Bec): Yeah, well, I play hockey and so I definitely would like to have faster reaction time because that's a hard ball and I can say with some level of confidence that it hurts when it hits!

(Carlo): Yeah. Then you know better than I do. Yeah, the futsal ball doesn't hurt.

(Bec): Yeah, well, I'm sure it does if it hits you at speed. 

So what other evidence have you got in this kind of brain-cognitive lens for astaxanthin, aside from this stress testing and endurance study?

0:14:08 - (Carlo): Well, we can look at the brain from two different perspectives. So say, the slightly younger, professional perspective and the silver world perspective. Now, I understand that talking about these things, since both of us are young, sometimes makes them a little scary. But we all have people that we care about that are in their senior years. We have seen that astaxanthin can give benefits to their brain as well.

Now, if for us, say, performance is the main driver of using astaxanthin, in their case, using astaxanthin is a driver to try to keep their cognitive health stable over time. 

(Bec): Yep. 

(Carlo): So specifically in this case, we have also tests with different amounts of astaxanthin. But one that I like particularly is one that shows how astaxanthin can improve cognitive function in the elderly. Now, in this case, we have around twelve milligram of astaxanthin for twelve weeks. And I always like to specify that we need at the very least four weeks for astaxanthin to get into your system and start working. And that's why all of our tests are at least four weeks, if not twelve (weeks) or more. So basically one month or more. 

So in this case, specifically, our elderly people took twelve milligrams of astaxanthin for twelve weeks. And then we saw, after administering the Cog Health test, that elements such as the working memory, the choice reaction, and multitasking scores, improved over time during these twelve weeks. 

(Bec): Great. 

(Carlo): And as much as for you and me, might not mean much, but the fact that they can recall words or choose things a little faster or be able to multitask a little bit more efficiently, it's a big deal.

(Bec): Absolutely.

(Carlo): Especially because in their case, it means that they can be more autonomous throughout the day. And in our case, it means that we can worry less. 

Now, astaxanthin will do this for younger generations too. But for younger brains, the difference between recalling something a little faster or not sometimes is negligible.

(Bec): A little less tangible, true.

(Carlo): Yeah, for elderly people it's important. So this test, I like it particularly. And then if we want to talk about another one, we know that word recall and word recognition, the speed of recognising words and recalling them, increases as well. Even with just two milligram a day for 60 days.

(Bec): That's amazing for a low dose in a short period of time. A lot of the time in the space of nootropics, we're talking about, like you mentioned, three months. But I mean, sometimes it can take six months, twelve months to really start to notice these benefits or effects as they sort of accumulate or become cumulative in the body. So to be able to get some tangible results within as little as 60 days, I think is something that really sets this ingredient apart.

0:17:01 - (Carlo): And it's true because 60 days is relatively short and two milligram is a very small dosage. So we're not talking about like 25, 30 or more, there's no need to go to that high. 

But one thing that I think is really important to stress when it comes to supplements in general, but specifically for astaxanthin, is that you need to be consistent using it for 30 plus days. The first 30 days, your body will start receiving it, it will start accumulating your cells, and then it will start delivering benefits. I know that some people use it only when they work out or only when they need it because they have a stressful period. But in that sense, it doesn't work as much as it should if you take it regularly and consistently, which ultimately makes a big difference because it accumulates where you need it.

(Bec): Yeah. So on the topic of it accumulating where you need it, I know you've got and I will grab this and I will put it into our video discussion but you've got a really great slide that demonstrates how astaxanthin helps with cellular structure and reduction of oxidative stress and damage to cells, and how potent it is as an antioxidant. So I will place that slide in there, but did you want to talk about that a little bit?


Cell Protect - Neuroprotective Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory


(Carlo): So now we know that astaxanthin can greatly protect your cells. And it does so because it spans through the cell membrane. Many other antioxidants that we commonly know, such as vitamin C or vitamin E, don't do the same action that astaxanthin does. Astaxanthin will cover the entire membrane of the cell from the outer layer to the inner layer. Whereas other antioxidants will only do one thing. Maybe they stay outside the cell membrane or in between the cell membrane. So that's why the potency of astaxanthin is so much more intense compared to other antioxidants. 

We have measured that astaxanthin is 6000 times stronger than vitamin C. Now, does it mean the vitamin C is not effective? I'm not saying this. But I'm saying that vitamin C, as well as all the other antioxidants, can benefit from synergistic work with astaxanthin.

(Bec): Right.

(Carlo): So any kind of product that contains astaxanthin and other antioxidants, it's actually a lot more stronger because of the potency of astaxanthin itself.

(Bec): Right, okay. So, yeah, it potentiates the effects of other antioxidants that you take around the same supplement. Yep.

0:19:23 - (Carlo): One more thing that we can tell about astaxanthin is that it can enhance mitochondria biogenesis and fat utilisation by those mitochondria. 

What does it mean? Now we know that astaxanthin can help mitochondria utilising fat as a source of energy. So that the mitochondria can perform longer and better over time. But we also know that astaxanthin can contribute to the mitochondria biogenesis. So not only your cells will have mitochondria that can produce energy longer, but your cells will also have more ‘fresher’ mitochondria over the course of time. This basically contributes to your cells having more energy and your body and whatever you need having more power for you to deliver your activities or whatever you're specifically doing.

(Bec): Yeah, absolutely. And that makes sense as to why it has such a profound effect on cognition as well. Because the brain uses an enormous amount of the body's energy. In some cases, up to a quarter of the energy that our body produces daily is used just by our brain for thinking and decision-making. So if we can make our energy production more efficient, then that's only going to benefit how rapidly our brain can respond.

(Carlo): That is one of the key reasons why I really like the fact that astaxanthin can do something for us, that we can actually feel.

(Bec): And who doesn't want more energy?

(Carlo): Yeah. 

(Bec): Everybody. 

(Carlo): Yeah. But it's one of the difficult parts of supplements because sometimes you don't really feel you don't have a placebo on yourself. So is it working? Is it not? It's difficult to say. But in this case, we have at least data and information that can show us that it does work. 

But this I don't think I have shown it to you yet. That's why I'm looking for it, because I think it's pretty cool to show at least. Yeah, so I could share the screen with you?

(Bec): You can share your screen.

(Carlo): Just give me 1 second because I think this is pretty cool to see. So when we talk about mitochondria, in general, we can see here that the mitochondria membrane potential in the non-treatment group versus the astaxanthin treatment group is fairly lower. 

Now, this is in vitro test where we have tested images of cells for two days in the presence of astaxanthin. 

(Bec): Yep. 

(Carlo): But you can see here that the mitochondria membrane potential in the astaxanthin group is fairly high compared to the non-treated group. Now, can we translate this 100% into humans? Maybe. 

So when you have the mitochondria, which is basically our ‘cells engine’. Although there are many, many of them in one cell. When they are performing better, your energy levels and your energy production will be higher. So you can perform more efficiently in daily tasks. 

And daily tasks are of course performance-wise physically important. But everything comes from the brain. So if you have your mitochondria in your brain more able to produce energy, more performing, then your cognitive power will be stronger and then everything else that comes from it, every decision you take will be better because it comes as a kind of a positive domino effect.

0:22:33 - (Bec): Yeah, absolutely. Every message that then is coming from the engine room at the top, whether it's to your hands, your feet, your mouth or any function would be enhanced. 

And so knowing what we know about the actions of astaxanthin, what other areas do you see this being applied to?

(Carlo): There's many we can talk about, but one that I think is closely related to the fact that your brain is performing more efficiently is your vision. 

Now, vision has also many sides of it. But if you link it immediately to performance in your brain, one of the things that come to me immediately is the gaming performance enhancement of astaxanthin. So we see more and more that gaming is becoming a big thing in the world. We have World Cup of video gaming competition and gaming competition. So gamers are an interesting category of people because they put their brain and their eyes through a lot of strain.

(Bec): Definitely.

(Carlo): While many don't understand the impact of gaming on the brain and in the eyes because it looks like they're just moving a mouse. Whatever is going on inside them, there are many, many, many simultaneously going-on processes of like quick decisions that they make in split second. So not only their brain has to be working at 110% continuously. But their eyes and their hands also had to be coordinated. 

(Bec): Yeah. 

(Carlo): So if one of these systems start to fail, the performance decreases sharply. 

So it's common for gamers to use astaxanthin as a support for their performance because we know that from the eye perspective, astaxanthin helps protecting their eye from a little bit from blue light. The back of their eyes is protected by lutein and the front of the eyes is protected by astaxanthin. In a sense that astaxanthin helps the ciliary muscles that keep their eyes being able to focus on different objects in different directions.

(Bec): Right, well, and that's important. I get that that's important for gamers, but we're all so dialled-in to using screens, that that applies universally probably to most children and adults.

(Carlo): Yeah. So actually what it does is, astaxanthin since it takes care of the ciliary muscles that are around our eyes and help our lens to stretch or to compress, to focus from far or close to us. Why is it important to have it for everybody? And also for gamers is that the longer we spend with a fixed distance to a screen, the more our eyes get strained and the harder it is for us to look further away without having a little bit of blurred vision.

(Bec): Yes.

(Carlo): Now it matters for everybody using a screen or a laptop. But it also matters because after using the screen and the laptop you do other things. Maybe you read a book or you're driving or you are playing any sport that involves moving objects. You said you play hockey. So focusing on the hockey disk, moving at a really high speed, really from far away to close to you, it's important that your eyes can actually see that and send a signal to your brain to fire your hands to move. So all of these systems are connected and when we look at the energy aspect of it, mitochondria play a key role, but then they send other important signals everywhere else. So we could really tangle astaxanthin into many aspects of what we do regularly.

(Bec): Absolutely, yeah. There is some close connections between the quality of your eye health and the quality, or the potential for quality of your brain health over the longer term. 

So if you do start to notice those aspects to your vision that are starting to be a bit slow or a little bit bleary or weary, then it is something to pay attention to. I know I definitely notice it as somebody who plays sport, that on the days where I have to go from work to sport. So on a weekday, for instance, my vision is so much more strained and slow and I'm less rapid than if I get up on a Saturday morning and I go straight to sport and I've spent no time on a screen. It does, there's a real noticeable difference.

(Carlo): Yeah. And it's funny because I talk about this with my friends as well. Mental fatigue is real. The fact that your brain is tired, it doesn't matter if your body is 100% fresh. If your brain is tired, everything else comes sluggish.

(Bec): It's tired. Yeah.

(Carlo): And I noticed that as well, when I was practicing Kyokshin karate, when I was fighting, I would realise that after a day at work, I will get on the tatami mat, be ready to fight. And sometimes I just couldn’t see kicks and punches coming. So I will be beaten like a bag. 

(Bec): Not ideal. 

(Carlo): But I'm not tired. But I realised that I was tired here (brain), so everywhere else was just giving up. Yeah, and now I don't fight anymore, but I lift weights. So I believe that also for people that do strength training, a supplement that makes your brain stable and strong throughout the day can also empower your performance in the gym.

(Bec): Absolutely. 

(Carlo): And that also comes as a consequence. If you're tired, you cannot lift the usual way that you do. You lift less because you cannot fire muscles properly. And that's another aspect that's important.

(Bec): It's such a good point and it's something I know I've noticed as well. On the days you go to the gym and you do workouts that are perhaps more intense and tire you faster, like those more cardio-based workouts. I know for myself, the more tired I get, the lazier I become with my exercise. So my form and function changes and therefore I'm at a greater risk of injury as well.

(Carlo): Yeah, very much agree with that. Yes. It's common because when we are tired, we try to compensate with other muscles. And then if you do a very heavy exercise but you need the form to be right. If you mess up the form because you're compensating, that's a huge risk of injury.

(Bec): Often we don't make these connections between, you know “hello” - Our brain is the operating centre of just everything that we do. But I think sometimes it's just like this underlying forgotten element to our well-being that actually we need to fuel and protect and look after our brain and our cellular health, our nerve structures. And a lot of our modern life tends to probably wear that down faster than, say, our ancestors did two, three generations ago.

(Carlo): Yeah. No, I agree. Well, nobody had the same level of strain we have now from our work and from our smart devices. So that's something that impacts our life daily.

0:29:15 - (Bec): Absolutely. All right. And so I know you've got more exciting science to share in relation to how astaxanthin improves other performance parameters. So shall we go into that?

(Carlo): Want to talk about performance specifically? So, again, we have many studies on performance, muscle performance and astaxanthin. Many aspects of it are showing that astaxanthin can help increase endurance, for example, increase power output in endurance athletes and increase recovery. 

(Bec): Yep. 

(Carlo): So all of these aspects are important because when you practice sports, whether you are a weekend warrior, whether you're a professional athlete, whether you're like halfway through, these are all aspects that you will find along your path.

(Carlo): Whether you need more power, whether you need more recovery, whether you need more cardiac endurance, having. Any supplement that can support those makes it a little bit easier for you to perform. 

Now, we have a very famous study that was done many years ago with muscle performance and squats. Specifically, we had in this case, 40 healthy paramedic students from 17 to 19 years old. So relatively young people. 

(Bec): Yep. 

(Carlo): That were doing strength and endurance training, so 20 of them had a placebo, 20 of them had only four milligram of astaxanthin a day. And then we have seen that the astaxanthin group, after six months, was able to outperform the placebo group in number of squats and they saw a 55 increase in squats, power and output, during these six months.

(Bec): 55% increase?

(Carlo): Yeah. So say the beginning, the baseline group for the placebo group could do 46 squats and the astaxanthin group could do 49. So pretty much similar. After six months, the placebo group was able to increase to 55 squats, but the astaxanthin group was able to increase to 76 squats.

(Bec): That's a massive difference.

(Carlo): Yeah, that's a massive difference. And it's important to say that, of course there are some training adaptations going on. But over the course of six months, both of the groups had the same type of training. So training adaptation happened in both. 

But the only difference they had is that the astaxanthin group was taking astaxanthin and again, it wasn't a massive dosage, but still they saw an impressive increase in the amount of squats. And that means that they were able to have more power available.

(Bec): How interesting.

0:31:53 - (Carlo): And then endurance-wise, we know that astaxanthin can help reducing the latic acid buildup. So if you're a runner, or if you need to perform for longer periods of time, having something that can reduce a little bit your lactic acid buildup makes a huge difference between feeling your muscle all stuffy and swollen, or being able to run the extra mile.

(Bec): Definitely. And that's applicable to people who aren't just exercising regularly, that's to the people who decide that after a period of not exercising, they come back to it. Lactic acid is killer. So if you've got anything that can kind of sharpen that, that's amazing.

(Carlo): And we also know that astaxanthin helps in recovery in the sense that it can protect your muscle from free radical damage. So to speak, to minimise the exercise-induced inflammation and soreness. Now, this is also something that happens commonly when you resume training or where you change type of training. You go to the gym or you do whatever you're doing, and then one day or two days after, you're all sore, you can barely walk, you can barely wear your T-shirt normally. So having, again, like a supplement that can help a little bit, coping with that, makes it so that you can still perform despite having a little bit of soreness here and there, compared to having massive DOMS that you cannot move. And you can just have like basically cold, hot tea and relax because you cannot do anything otherwise.

(Bec): I think a lot of people think of magnesium, for instance, as being one of the only things we can apply for that delayed onset muscle soreness - DOMS. But that's cool that you can use astaxanthin as part of that strategy as well.

(Carlo): Yeah, I agree with the fact that magnesium helps. Usually, I take magnesium to help me actually sleep better when I have particular intense days. And then also makes it so that I have better recovery because I have better sleep in that sense. But since I have been using astaxanthin for myself, I have noticed that my recovery is better and my training regime has been pretty intense. So if before I was always drained on Fridays, on Fridays now, I feel okay. I feel a little bit tired because it has been a long week in general, but usually I'm not as exhausted as I was before. 

One aspect that we might also consider is that sometimes when you train yourself to strenuous levels, sometimes also your immune system might become less efficient.

0:34:23 - (Bec): Overtraining syndrome, yes.

(Carlo): Yes, probably you're familiar too. So the inflammation level in your body will increase and your immune system response might be a little slower. Now, far from saying that astaxanthin cures, astaxanthin does not cure any disease and no supplement can do that. But we have seen in clinical trials that astaxanthin can help your immune system to try to be a little bit more efficient. So your immune response to be a little bit faster.

So in the sense to say that it can be protected a little more from usual things that happen when you overtrain, maybe having a little bit of cold, maybe having a little bit of sore throat, it happens less frequently or it doesn't happen according to your training regime. I noticed that I was having very often cold and sore throat as a consequence of strenuous training and I didn't see that happen much anymore, which is actually great because I can keep on training and I keep on performing.

(Bec): Yeah, well, I mean, that stands to reason if you're a little less exhausted, your body is a bit more efficient at responding to any threats or pathogenic organisms. Yes, another great kind of like, side benefit, isn't it?

(Carlo): Yeah, it's true. It's all about support ultimately.

0:35:35 - (Bec): We've covered a lot to do with performance because I think sometimes people with nootropic ingredients just kind of assume that they're only for the more older folks. So I did really want to touch on just some of the amazing kind of performance and cognitive enhancing abilities that can be afforded to the more youthful generation, shall we say. 

But you do have some very exciting evidence when it comes to those dementia Alzheimer's pictures, at that end of the spectrum. So do you want to just touch on that before we wrap up?

(Carlo): Yeah. So one of the things that we have noticed through our clinical trials is that, yes, astaxanthin benefits all sorts of patients and specifically in the cases of mild, strong cognitive decline in elderly people, we have seen that small dosage of astaxanthin can make a great impact in the performance of the brain of somebody that is elderly and has cognitive function impairment. 

So two milligram of astaxanthin can help these type of people to recall words faster, recognise words faster. So these type of results, in a case of a person that has some type of Alzheimer's disease onset, it's important because again, we cannot stop or cure any of these diseases. But what we can do by using astaxanthin is that we can slow down the cognitive decline. So in that sense, it means that we can give a better quality of life to people that have these onset issues. 

So if you have anybody in the family that has these type of issues or it's starting to have a little bit of cognitive decline, by supplementing astaxanthin, their quality of life will be better because they will be less forgetful. So they will be able to do their things normally longer and all the people around them will be less stressed. They can still have a life with this person normally as long as possible.

So one of the things that I like to say in general about astaxanthin is that it can greatly improve the quality of life of your life, of course, but also all the people around you. So in a sense, it's a supplement that can do many things because at the very core of it, it is there to improve the quality of life.

0:37:56 - (Bec): So astaxanthin is in fact such a renowned cognitive ingredient now that it's been globally recognised with Nutraingredient Awards last year.

(Carlo): Yeah, that's true. We were selected as winners for the Cognitive Ingredient of the Year in the Nutraingredients Asia Awards 2022. Which is, if you want to say that a little bit differently, it's a bit like the Oscars, for nutrition. Absolutely. And I'm really glad to say that because our science has been recognised for cognitive health, which is something that we have been trying to work on very hard for the past months. So having that in hand really makes it so that we are officially there to show that as a astaxanthin is great for eyes, skin and everything else, but it's also really good for the brain, which is the thing that I like the most. Being officially recognised.

(Bec): Absolutely. And up for another award this year, I hear?

(Carlo): Yes, that's true. This year we're going for the Beauty From Within category. So in this case, we're trying to show that the science behind astaxanthin is great also for your skin and the beauty, as a supplement. 

Reasonably, cosmetics are great, but we work more on supplements. So any kind of supplementation that shows that the skin works better with astaxanthin, we are there. And hopefully fingers crossed on September 26, we might be chosen as winners.

(Bec): Oh, well, good luck. And on that note, I'm going to thank you very much for coming and sharing what is probably one of the most exciting nootropic ingredients that we have access to currently. And I can't thank you enough for taking us through all of that. That was a lot. So thank you so much for joining me.

(Carlo): It was a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me today. It was great to be here.

Cell Protect is an advanced antioxidant, antiinflammatory and immune formula featuring curcumin, astaxanthin, quercetin, resveratrol, zinc, brassica and selenium

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