As nature’s most powerful antioxidant, astaxanthin benefits canine endurance, aging, vision health and more.
Antioxidants, found if astaxanthin, are a beneficial part of the animal diet because they help neutralize potentially harmful free radicals. Free radicals are reactive molecules produced both as by-products of the body’s natural physiology, and as a result of interaction with the environment. Both endogenous and dietary antioxidants work together to control and balance the level of free radicals in the body. When this balance is tipped in favor of free radical accumulation, oxidative stress and damage can occur to healthy cells. Oxidative stress can happen anywhere in the body, including in muscles, eyes, skin, and brain.
Oxidative stress in both aging and active dogs
Managing oxidative stress with antioxidants in healthy aging dogs is an approach that has been studied and shown to have benefits for learning and cognition. Additionally, studies have shown that an antioxidant-rich diet helps combat levels of oxidation in both aging and exercising dogs.
• Aging dogs tend to have the balance tipped toward oxidative stress. As a dog ages, his body’s own antioxidant function deteriorates, and free radicals begin to accumulate. Older dogs accumulate oxidized proteins and lipids, which can affect canine health in many ways. In one study, dogs with senile dementia had 400% more oxidized protein and 250% more oxidized lipids in their brains, compared to their age-matched healthy counterparts.
• Active and working dogs also experience significant oxidative stress. Aerobic exercise in both untrained and trained dogs can cause free radical accumulation. This is because muscles produce energy using mitochondria, which are the powerhouses of the cell. Mitochondria burn oxygen, carbs and fat to produce energy, but the energy production also produces free radical by-products. The more active the dog and the more energy consumed, the more free radicals are produced. This leads to damage of healthy muscle tissue, which can affect endurance, performance and recovery.
Astaxathin, a natural antioxidant
Daily antioxidants are known to support canine health in a variety of ways, including promoting a healthy immune response, supporting eye health in aging dogs, and contributing to a normal inflammatory response. There are many dietary antioxidants to choose from, and a varied diet containing many antioxidants is beneficial since they all work somewhat differently.
Antioxidants like natural astaxanthin and vitamin E can boost a dog’s antioxidant capacity, helping to address reactive oxygen species (ROS) and control oxidative stress.
Natural astaxanthin is a targeted mitochondrial ingredient whose antioxidant activity is reported to be higher than that of beta carotene, lutein and vitamin E. Natural astaxanthin has some features that make it unique among antioxidants:
• It is one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants, which means it is very good at quenching free radicals, in particular singlet oxygen. One study revealed that astaxanthin is 6,000 times stronger than vitamin C, 110 times stronger than vitamin E, and even three to five times stronger than its cousin carotenoids, lutein and beta carotene.
• Astaxanthin is a fat-soluble antioxidant that can access cell membranes, unlike water-soluble antioxidants. This is important because cell membranes are made of lipids, which are especially sensitive to oxidation. Natural astaxanthin has a unique structure that can span the cell membrane from end to end for better membrane coverage and antioxidant protection.
• It favors all membranes, but as much as 50% of all membrane-bound astaxanthin has been found in mitochondrial membranes, the energy-producing parts of the cell that also produce free radicals as a by-product of their metabolic activity. This means that natural astaxanthin is poised at the site of free radical production to help neutralize these unstable molecules before they start a chain reaction that can damage healthy mitochondria and tissue.
Natural astaxanthin is red in color and belongs to the family of antioxidants called carotenoids, which are most commonly found in fruits and vegetables. However, unlike carotenoids such as beta-carotene found in carrots, lycopene found in tomatoes, and lutein found in spinach, natural astaxanthin is found in red-colored seafoods like lobster, crab, shrimp and salmon. For dogs and people, the main dietary source of natural astaxanthin is wild salmon. However, salmon is a rare protein in commercial dog food, and a dog would have to consume four filets of wild king salmon daily to get a beneficial amount of astaxanthin. This is why supplementation with quality, natural astaxanthin is important.