Astaxanthin Side Effects
There is no doubt that astaxanthin can be a highly beneficial nutritional supplement. This antioxidant offers what can only be described as a massive array of advantages, promoting improved health in areas ranging from your brain to your heart. Research on astaxanthin’s benefits indicates that the naturally occurring chemical — found in krill, yeast, salmon and many other types of seafood — can enhance eye health, protect your cardiovascular system, promote liver health, encourage healthier skin and reduce the likelihood of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. And while studies suggest a low risk of astaxanthin side effects, there are potential adverse affects of which you should be aware. Consult a doctor before using any astaxanthin supplement and discontinue use if you experience any of the following — or any other — side effects from supplementation (1).
According to a 1999 study, consuming daily doses of up to 19.25 milligrams of astaxanthin for 29 days did not result in any adverse astaxanthin side effects (1). Additionally, a longer study — 8 weeks — found that taking 6 milligrams of astaxanthin each day for the duration of the study did not produce any significant changes compared to a control group (2).
However, as with any other substance, some allergic reactions to astaxanthin have been reported. This astaxanthin side effect appears uncommon and you may have some forewarning to the allergy because reactions typically occur in those with allergies to other carotenoids.
Another potential astaxanthin side effect is changes in your skin pigmentation. Astaxanthin is a pigment in and of itself — it provides a yellow color to yeast and other foods in which it is present. This quality is so strong that the substance is used as a food dye. Thus, taking high doses of astaxanthin may produce a yellowing of your skin. However, this can also happen when consuming carotenoid-rich foods such as sweet potatoes and this effect should fade when you stop consuming the supplement.
A primary benefit of astaxanthin side effects is on the cardiovascular system, including protecting heart tissue from free radical damage. Not all of the cardiovascular effects of astaxanthin appear to be positive, though — the substance may promote low blood pressure and reduced concentrations of calcium in your blood (3).
Likewise, astaxanthin can promote increases in concentrations of a hormone that helps break down fat, but the chemical also has the potential to cause hormonal changes that can result in decreased libido, increased hair growth and enlarged breasts in men (3).
Other Astaxanthin Side Effects
In addition, astaxanthin — as with any other supplement — may cause side effects when combined with other supplements and medication. Because of this, it is vital to consult a licensed medical professional prior to adding astaxanthin to your diet and supplement plan. Although research suggests the risk of astaxanthin side effects is low, there is always the possibility of adverse effects when you introduce high levels of even a naturally occurring substance to your body.
- Trends in Biotechnology; Haematococcus Astaxanthin: Applications for Human Health and Nutrition; M. Guerin, M.E. Huntley, M. Olaizola; May 2003
- Journal of Medicinal Food; Safety of an Astaxanthin-Rich Haematococcus Pluvialis Algal Extract: A Randomized Clinical Trial; G.A. Spiller, A. Dewell; Spring 2003
- Wellness.com: Astaxanthin