| Other Antioxidants
Vitamin E and beta-carotene are generally well known as antioxidant components originating in foods. In the language of sumo wrestling, if we consider Vitamin E to be the grand champion sumo wrestler of the East group, beta-carotene would have been the grand champion of the West group. With the latest entry of astaxanthin, however, the official ranking has had to be rewritten. This is because the antioxidant effect of astaxanthin far surpasses that of other food components.
Dr. Wataru Miki of Fuji Chemical Industry Co. Ltd. reported that astaxanthin showed strong antioxidant activity reaching 1,000 times the power of Vitamin E (a-tocopherol) against the lipid perioxidation reaction (production of lipoperoxide) of liver mitochondria caused by bivalent iron.
Astaxanthin is also superior to many other antioxidants because of the unique role it may play in protecting the cell membrane because of its unique chemical structure and orientation within the living cell. Figure 2 shows astaxanthins unique ability to span through the double layer cell membrane. For example, β-carotene resides inside the bilipid membrane and vitamin C resides outside the bilipid membrane only. Whereas, the astaxanthin molecule is exposed both in and outside of the cell giving overall better protection. In addition, it can also function as a bridge by transporting trapped free radicals to the aqueous (polar) regions of the cell, thus making them available to water soluble antioxidants.
Astaxanthins Cell Activity
Most antioxidants are tissue-specific. That means they tend to concentrate in one or two places in the body, and that's where they provide their antioxidant protection. Other carotenoids, for example, tend to favor specific organs such as the retina of the eyes or the prostate. Astaxanthin is special because it is active in many parts of the body, so it provides a more complete shield of