Choosing the Best Astaxanthin for Finished Products

Choosing the right astaxanthin for finished supplements and functional foods/beverages requires an understanding of harvesting techniques, testing methods and formulation processes.

Sandy Almendarez, VP of Content

April 3, 2015

2 Min Read
Choosing the Best Astaxanthin for Finished Products

Astaxanthin gives salmon and lobster their rich pink and red hues, but most consumers want the health benefits of the antioxidant-rich carotenoid without sucking on seafood every day.

Research has shown astaxanthin helps immune, brain, heart, skin, sexual and eye health. Further studies have demonstrated astaxanthin’s ability to improve exercise endurance and reduce inflammation.

Thankfully, astaxanthin can be sourced in less fishy ways. But, it mostly comes from the waters.

According to the American Botanical Council (ABC), most commercially available astaxanthin is harvested from algae. Specifically, Haematococcus pluvialis, a freshwater species of Chlorophyta, is often cultivated for its astaxanthin content.

“Natural astaxanthin exist in a variety of organisms, such as shrimp shell, crab shell and red yeast, but the content of astaxanthin in those is very low, and the extraction process is very complicated," said Carol Cheow, general manager of sales and marketing, Cactus Botanics, who said her company sources its astaxanthin from H. Pluvialis.

H. pluvialis’ life cycle comprises two stages: a green, motile, vegetative stage in which the cells continuously divide and synthesize chlorophyll; and a red, non-motile resting stage (cyst) in which cell division stops, chlorophyll content remains constant, and astaxanthin content and cellular dry weight continuously increase, according to a patent (no. 6022701) issued to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheba, Israel, in 2000. “The optimal environmental and nutritional conditions required for these two stages are quite different. For vegetative growth, full nutrient medium, moderate light intensity, and adequate temperature and pH are essential," the patent authors noted. “For the resting stage, however, no nutrient (except carbon) is required and higher light intensity (e.g., sunlight) is necessary for faster astaxanthin accumulation. Due to such discrepancies, the two stages must be separated into different cultivating systems with different media accordingly."

Astaxanthin suppliers that work with natural—rather than synthetic—astaxanthin produce the initial phase of H. pluvialis in closed cultured systems, and then transfer the microalgae to an open pond or photobioreactor.

Cyanotech Corp. uses a closed culture system for the first stage and open culture ponds for the second stage. In contrast, the second stage of astaxanthin production for BGG (AstaZine™), Algatechnologies and AstaReal USA (a Fuji Chemical Industry Group company) occurs in closed photobioreactor systems.

Learn how these production methods increase sustainability, and what formulation and delivery system concerns need to be addressed with sourcing astaxanthin in the INSIDER Buyers Guidebook “Astaxanthin Acquisition."

About the Author(s)

Sandy Almendarez

VP of Content, Informa


• Well-known subject matter expert within the health & nutrition industry with more than 15 years’ experience reporting on natural products.

• She cares a lot about how healthy products are made, where their ingredients are sourced and how they affect human health.

• She knows that it’s the people behind the businesses — their motivations, feelings and emotions — drive industry growth, so that’s where she looks for content opportunities.

Sandy Almendarez is VP of Content for SupplySide and an award-winning journalist. She oversees the editorial and content marketing teams for the B2B media brands Natural Products Insider and Food and Beverage Insider, the education programming for the health and nutrition trade shows SupplySide East and SupplySide West, and community engagement across the SupplySide portfolio. She is a seasoned content strategist with a passion for health, good nutrition, sustainability and inclusion. With over 15 years of experience in the health and nutrition industry, Sandy brings a wealth of knowledge to her role as a content-focused business leader. With specialization in topics ranging from product development to content engagement, creative marketing and c-suite decision making, her work is known for its engaging style and its relevance for business leaders in the health and nutrition industry.

In her free time, Sandy loves running, drinking hot tea and watching her two kids grow up. She brews her own “Sandbucha” homemade kombucha; she’s happy to share if you’re ever in Phoenix!


Speaker credentials

Resides in

  • Phoenix, AZ


  • Arizona State University


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