Astaxanthin for muscle endurance and recovery

A variety of studies have supported the potential of astaxanthin as a powerful ingredient in the sports nutrition arsenal.

Tryggvi Stefansson, Chief Operating Officer

July 15, 2019

3 Min Read
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Post-workout recovery supplements replenish energy stores, promote muscle repair and reduce muscle breakdown after a demanding workout. Intense physical exercise is energy-dependent. When the muscles burn calories by oxidation, free radicals and other reactive oxygen species (ROS) are formed as a byproduct.1 Free radicals can damage muscle fibers and reduce their ability to contract.2

Moderate exercise has health-promoting effects, while strenuous exercise, especially in unfit individuals, may have the opposite effect. Physical activity enhances metabolism that leads to increased production of free radicals and other ROS.

Astaxanthin sourced from the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis is a powerful natural antioxidant. Comparison studies have shown astaxanthin is 6,000 times more powerful than vitamin C, 100 times more powerful than vitamin E, and five times more powerful than beta-carotene in trapping energy from singlet oxygen, one of the most common ROS in biological systems.3 Astaxanthin can trap several types of ROS/free radicals. In addition, the way astaxanthin neutralizes harmful ROS/free radicals is gentle to the body’s cells. Other antioxidants can be harmful, since they may turn into highly reactive molecules.4

As a bioavailable antioxidant, astaxanthin is transported throughout the body to organs and muscle tissues, combating excessive free radical production. Natural astaxanthin improves muscle endurance and strength by helping to reduce oxidative stress. Clinical studies have found natural astaxanthin neutralizes exercise-induced free radicals, protects the activity of antioxidant enzymes, reduces muscle fatigue and inhibits the formation of lactic acid.5-9

Read this full article and learn more about how astaxanthin and other ingredients benefit muscle building in INSIDER’s Sport Nutrition Muscle Building Digital Magazine.

Tryggvi Stefánsson, science manager, Algalif, has a doctorate in microbiology and genetics from ETH Zurich in Switzerland. He joined Algalif in early 2014 and since 2015, has led the company’s R&D and scale-up department.


1. Turrens, J, Boveris A. “Generation of superoxide anion by the NADH dehydrogenase of bovine heart mitochondria.” Biochem J. 1980 Nov 1;191(2):421-7.

2. Fulle S et al. “The relationship between oxidative stress and the functional capacity of skeletal muscle.” Basic Appl Myol. 2004;14:33-36.

3. Nishida Y, Yamashita E, Miki W. “Quenching Activities of Common Hydrophilic and Lipophilic Antioxidants against Singlet Oxygen Using Chemiluminescence Detection System.” Carotenoid Sci. 2007;11:16-20

4  Beutner S et al. “Quantitative assessment of antioxidant properties of natural colorants and phytochemicals: carotenoids, flavonoids, phenols and indigoids. The role of β-carotene in antioxidant functions.” J Sci Food Agric. 2001;81:559-568.

5. Sawaki K et al. “Sports Performance Benefits from Taking Natural Astaxanthin: Characterized by Visual Acuity and Muscular Fatigue Improvement in Humans.” J Tradit Med. 2002;19:1-13.

6. Earnest C et al. “Effect of astaxanthin on cycling time trial performance.” Int J Sports Med. 2011; 32:882-8.

7. Djordjevic B et al. “Effect of astaxanthin supplementation on muscle damage and oxidative stress markers in elite young soccer players.” J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2012;52:382-92.

8. Baralic I et al. “Effect of astaxanthin supplementation on paraoxonase 1 activities and oxidative stress status in young soccer players”. Phytother Res. 2013:27:1536-42.

9. Baralic I et al. “Effect of Astaxanthin Supplementation on Salivary IgA, Oxidative Stress, and Inflammation in Young Soccer Players.” Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:783761. DOI: 10.1155/2015/783761.

About the Author(s)

Tryggvi Stefansson

Chief Operating Officer, Algalif

Tryggvi Stefánsson is Chief Operating Officer at Algalif. He has a Ph.D. in microbiology and genetics from ETH Zurich in Switzerland. He joined Algalif in early 2014 and from 2015 to 2019 he led the company’s R&D and scale-up department as Science Manager. Now serving as Chief Operating Officer, Tryggvi oversees the production, scale-up and maintenance departments at Algalíf.

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