Astaxanthin is a carotenoid that is produced from specific species of algae when they are stressed. Carotenoids are pigment colors that occur naturally in nature. Astaxanthin is a bright red color, and when used in pet food or treats it can impact the color of the finished product. Salmon, shrimp, krill, and flamingos are all pink due to Astaxanthin; without it flamingos have grey feathers!
Astaxanthin is proven to have many health benefits in both humans and animals. It serves as a powerful antioxidant, which is important in fighting free radicals. Astaxanthin is a better antioxidant than other vitamins such as vitamin E and C as it can control multiple free radicals at one time. Controlling free radicals in the body is important to decrease the instance of many diseases, aging, and inflammation.
Given it is such a powerful antioxidant, it also has many benefits to animals. These include but are not limited to eye, joint and heart health. Astaxanthin is also great at supporting overall brain function, can assist in cancer prevention, immune health and to help slow the aging process.
Doing a quick scan of the current pet food industry, Astaxanthin is used in a variety of pet products including complete and balanced foods, treats and supplements. The dosage rate varies by company and product, but a typical dosage is to deliver 1 to 1.6 mg per 20 pounds of body weight. Many of the supplements that Astaxanthin is used in are designed to address or improve the following: cognitive health, skin and coat, eye support, joints, and general overall well-being. This goes to show that Astaxanthin can be beneficial in nearly all types of formulations that may or may not address a specific animal need.
Written by Kent Cooper and Lisa Schole of Evolve Consulting Group