To increase consumer awareness of natural algae astaxanthin’s health benefits and differentiate it from synthetic astaxanthin, three leading producers are founding the Natural Algae Astaxanthin Association (NAXA). Fuji Chemical Industry Co. Ltd. (which offers the astaxanthin ingredient AstaReal), Algatechnologies Ltd. (AstaPure) and Cyanotech Corporation (BioAstin) will welcome other algae-based astaxanthin producers to the new trade group in the near future.
With the recent introduction of synthetic astaxanthin derived from petrochemicals, those invested in natural astaxanthin have found a need to band together to do some educating. “There are tremendous differences in terms of effectiveness between the different sources,” says Oran Ayalon, Ph.D., director of R&D at Algatechnologies.
The companies advance several points they say distinguish natural from synthetic astaxanthin. Natural algae astaxanthin is 20 to 50 times stronger in antioxidant capacity, according to recent research cited by NAXA. The group says that natural astaxanthin is shaped differently, is esterified with fatty acids and contains a synergistic “carotenoid cocktail.” Synthetic astaxanthin, meanwhile, hasn’t had chronic or acute toxicity testing in humans, according to NAXA. This is of concern in light of the fact that other synthetic carotenoids, like beta carotene, have been found to cause health issues in humans. The group also says there is a lack of health benefit data behind synthetic astaxanthin, in contrast with the positive clinical studies on natural algae astaxanthin.
NAXA will sponsor a seminar on Friday, March 7 at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, CA, comparing the two astaxanthin sources as nutraceutical ingredients.
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, February 2013 (online 1/7/14)