Just a couple of minutes ago (which, by the time I finish writing this post, will have turned into a couple of hours…at least…), I came across an interesting study published in March 2010. Luckily for us, it is fully available online:

First, what is astaxanthin? It’s a carotenoid, which means it’s a tetraterpenoid (=contains 40 carbon atoms) organic pigment…eeeeh? Oh, forget it…Let’s try to find a simpler explanation…

Okay, we know what carrots look like, right? Well, their bright orange color is caused by a carotenoid. Another carotenoid is lycopene, which can be helpful in preventing the onset of prostate cancer and is found in tomatoes and other red fruit/veggies (not strawberries or cherries, though).

Now, when I did an online search for astaxanthin, I discovered that Dr. Oz (some of you, especially U.S. readers, will be familiar with him, or at least have heard of him…and actually, his program can now be watched here in Italy, too) spoke about this substance in one of his segments. This article actually gives us some fascinating titbits, such as the fact that flamingos are really born white, and it is astaxanthin that gives them their “pink look”: After reading the above-mentioned study, though, I would like to state that the astaxanthin dosage mentioned here by Dr. Mercola seems a bit too high to me (I wouldn’t go above 2 mg, for reasons we will see in a sec…)…

Let’s see. I read on other websites that the highest levels of astaxanthin can be found in algae. I also read that some commercial sources of astaxanthin include shrimp processing waste…ewww! And here is another ewww!: it can also be produced synthetically (much cheaper, this way), which means that it might contain some extra stuff that might not be so good for us. So, if we decide to give this substance a whirl, we must be careful when choosing our sources…

Okay, here is what we know thus far: astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant with powerful anti-inflammatory activity. As such, it might be useful to treat heart, immune, inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases. More to the point, it might be useful in the prevention and perhaps even treatment of cancer…

I didn’t find any astaxanthin and myeloma studies in PubMed, but that didn’t keep me from doing a bit of research on astaxanthin, which seems to hold some promise as an anticancer substance…

If you check out PubMed, you will find, in fact, that astaxanthin has been studied in other types of cancer, e.g. breast cancer, where it delayed tumor growth and modulated immune response: This study is interesting, since it shows that astaxanthin was useful in the prevention of breast cancer. However, when administered after the onset of cancer, it seemed to be harmful. This reminds us that we should always be super careful, do our research carefully and talk to our doctors before taking anything…and always monitor our blood test results…

Administration of astaxanthin was shown to be beneficial in canine osteosarcoma:

Last but definitely not least: This study shows astaxanthin decreased the levels of MMPs (2-9), ERK-2 and Akt. These three proteins are involved in myeloma, too…quelle surprise. You can do a search of my blog for all three…but, for example, MMPs are enzymes involved in bone destruction and cancer growth…need I say more? Astaxanthin decreased the serum levels of these three proteins in rats with colon cancer…and it also lowered their levels of NF-kappaB, which is one of the big criminals in myeloma, too…So this finding is verrrrry interesting…

Okay, there are other PubMed studies, but I will stop here before this post looks more like a laundry list than a proper post. Let’s now have a look at the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study that prompted this post in the first place (see the first link in this post…).

Results that I thought were interesting and possibly relevant to MGUS, SMM and MM folks:

  1. C-reactive protein levels decreased in the volunteers taking 2 mg of astaxanthin. Good news. Note that the higher, = 8 mg, dosage didn’t have a further lowering effect on CRP, which just goes to prove once again that too much of a good thing might not necessarily be…a good thing.
  2. Astaxanthin increased the activity of Natural Killer cells, and also T and B cells. It increased the immune response in these healthy college-age women.
  3. Concentrations of something called “8-OHdG” (=a DNA-damage biomarker that could be a risk factor for cancer and atherosclerosis, among other nasty things) were significantly lower in the 2 mg group. Not sure how relevant this bit of news would be to folks who already have cancer…but surely it would be a good thing to decrease those DNA-damaging levels, no?
  4. Those taking 8 mg of astaxanthin had increased levels of IL-6…Not good. Again, too much of a good thing blablabla…So, if I were to decide to take astaxanthin, I would keep to a low dosage, not the 10 mg one suggested by Dr. Mercola.
  5. A 200-g serving of salmon provides approximately 1 to 7 mg astaxanthin.

In conclusion, it seems that 2 mg of astaxanthin might be a good thing to test, but I have so many other substances gathering dust on my cabinet shelf that I probably won’t be buying anything new for a while…

Still, it’s good to know about these new discoveries…and keep an eye on ‘em!


  1. The Krill oil supplement I take says that it has astaxanthin in it. Unfortunatelly it doesn’t say how much??? I hope it is at least 2mg!


  2. See:

    I agree with you. Our web site has a nice Q&A from me on the proper dosage of astaxanthin. I recommend 2 to 4 mg a day. The higher 4 mg dose is for people undergoing oxidative stress like athletes.

    Please also note that the UV protective effect in skin is there and this may mitigate the onset of skin cancers also. All carotenoids accumulate in skin and are UV protective. Beta Carotene is not recommended for this as it has been shown to be a problem in smokers. Take 2-4 mg astaxanthin and 10 mg lutein a day.

    Since astaxanthin is fat soluble, it does have some bio-accumulation, so if you want 2 mg a day, just take 4 mg every other day!

    Thank you for your excellent review and your opinion.

    SmartDoc, Dr. Rudi E. Moerck
    Valensa International

  3. Most krill oils are very low in astaxanthin except for Astamega Krill oil which has added astaxanthin. Astamega has 500 micrograms of astaxanthin while Neptune, Aker or Enzymotec krill have about 66 micrograms.

    If you take astaxanthin, it is best to take it witha krill capsule o take it with a fatty food like egg. Fats help you absorb the astaxanthin.

    Dr. Rudi E. Moerck (SmartDoc)

  4. Good article. Personally, I’m interested in astaxanthin for its possible prevention or mitigating effects in Alzheimer’s disease. Dr Mercola has had several articles on astaxanthin, and, while he says that he takes very few supplements, astaxanthin happens to be one that is part of his daily regimen. But, I, too, believe that his recommendation is too high. By the end of your article I was wondering how I was going to lower my 4mg capsules. Dr Rudi Moerck was kind enough to answer that one for me.

  5. I have been trying to validate Dr. Mercola’s claims for astaxanthin. As a breast cancer survivor I am not sure if I should or should not be taking it. Any research on that specifically?

  6. Hi,
    I wanted to tell you my story.

    I only started taking Astaxanthin a few months ago, and it has transformed my life completely.

    I am 48 and began to show signs of Rheumatoid Arthritus, or Fibromalgia….my knuckles & thumb bases both hurt like hell, swollen, stiff, wrists were weak, but forearms were getting weaker. I was using two hands to hold the kettle, and I was in a lot of pain as we use our hands all the time. Did not have the strength to open things, and was loosing my grip. Was unable to flex my arm muscles.

    I started taking Astaxanthin after a friend suggested it. I started taking 4mg a day. After 3 days I woke and my fingers were less swollen, good sign. It just got better and so I increased the dose to 4mg x twice a day.
    I do not have any swelling, I am stronger than I have ever been in my life and I am pain free. But also, my skin improved, it seems thicker and I am fresh faced, my energy levels are right up, I am clear headed, I have more enegery, I feel better than I every have as an adult. It is so exciting, I even did 2 press-ups a few weeks ago. I have never been able to do that, even before the weakness.

    I feel calmer and think that is due to it working on my nervous system, as I had PTSD. I do not feel so sluggish, generally feel physically fantastic.

    Definately recommend.

    Reasearch the effects: lower blood pressure, etc. It is said that is is not toxic in any way and I wouldnt hesitate to give to my pets. Just research for your own condition.

    It must be taken with food to be effective. Better to take ever 12 hours.

    It is not like caffine, i.e…it is not a ‘fake’ energy boost…this is celular changes, it helps your body function at optimum levels.

    From holding a kettle with two hands, to being able to do 2 press ups is an amazing transformation in a month….the only thing I was still getting was aching forearms, but that seems to have gone now….I cannot begin to praise this enough, for me it was a miriacle. I will take it for the rest of my life.

    My partner is asthmatic and her breathing is much better, she is using her inhaler a lot less than she was….but she has not been taking regularly and only for the last few weeks, she is being cautious but she admits to feeling and breathing better…as it boosts your immune sysyem, it will be interesting to see if she fights off colds better this year….I know she will 😉

  7. I agree with dr.Moerck. More isn’t always better. The higher dose, the greater risk for side-effects also.
    2mg is a proper dosage for most people.

  8. I have a question for Dr Moerck regarding astaxanthin, I hope he sees this.

    I’ve been taking this supplement for 6 months now as I’ve always had an issue with bad skin (acne, bad complexion etc) and it has worked wonders for me. I only stumbled across it before going on holiday, as someone told me they read that it can combat prickly heat which I suffer from when in the sun.

    Anyway, since then I’ve continued taking it. I’m unsure how many mg astaxanthin is in each pill, but I’ve been taking one a day.

    Anyway, over the past few months I’ve been noticing little fine hairs on my cheekbones, ears, and other places in my body where there wasn’t any before such as hands and biceps. Worryingly, I read ‘hair growth’ could be a side effect of astaxanthin. What are your thoughts on this, and is it true? I’d really prefer not to stop taking it because of the results I’ve been getting.

    I also read male breast enlargement is another side effect but saw a youtube video where you assured that this is simply not true, so I’m satisfied this won’t happen.

    Hoping this reaches you,

  9. Good day,
    I’m interested in administering the following supplements to 15 lb dog;
    – Zeaxanthin 10mg
    – Astaxanthin (12 mg Natural Hawaiian Astaxanthin & 10 IU Vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol)

    Would like confirmation if the amounts of Zeaxanthin 10mg and Astaxanthin 12mg are fine.

    Your time and assistance is greatly appreciated.
    Thank you!

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