Is there some sort of competition on who can come up with new names for new products that are crazy hard to pronounce? I vote to add this one to the competition. At the end of this blog article, you’ll be asked to spell this in addition to saying it ten times fast.
Astaxanthin For Dogs: A Powerful Antioxidant
When some algae are stressed they release this powerful antioxidant called astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin belongs to a group of compounds called carotenoids – and it’s actually a red pigment. Carotenoids are pigment colors that occur in nature. For example, beta carotene is an orange pigment and makes foods like orange peppers, well, orange. Astaxanthin is a red pigment and it actually turns animals that eat it pink. Salmon, shrimp, flamingos, crayfish and krill would be an entirely different color if they didn’t get astaxanthin in their diet. In fact, it’s added to many goldfish foods to keep them a nice deep orange color. And flamingos are born with grey feathers … they don’t turn pink until they start eating their natural diet of algae and crustaceans.
But don’t worry … your dog won’t turn pink if he eats it. And there are plenty of good reasons to give your dog astaxanthin.
How Astaxanthin Works
Astaxanthin is an antioxidant – and antioxidants are an important nutrient to fight against free radical damage.
Free radicals are unpaired electrons that can accumulate in cells. They’re the byproduct of metabolism, sometimes the immune system creates them to fight viruses and bacteria, and they’re also formed when your dog is exposed to chemicals, pesticides, processed foods, pollution, radiation and toxins.
Once free radicals form in cells, their single electron makes them very unstable, so they react quickly with other compounds so they can capture a second electron to make them stable again. So they often just attack the closest stable molecule and steal its electron. So the damaged molecule with the missing electron becomes another free radical and a chain reaction is set in motion.
This process is called oxidative stress and it causes damage to the cells, proteins and DNA in your dog’s body. So free radicals are associated with many common diseases including cancer, and premature aging.
Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant, which means it fights free radical damage. It’s designed perfectly to protect all parts of the cell and actually positions itself across the entire cell membrane, attaching itself to both the exterior, interior and lipid layer, offering entire protection for each cell.
Astaxanthin for dogs is better than most other antioxidants (such as vitamin E) because it controls multiple free radicals at a time. Astaxanthin forms an electron cloud around the molecule, so when free radicals come by to steal electrons they are absorbed into the cloud and neutralized.
It’s a powerful antioxidant, with antioxidant strength up to 6,000 times more potent than vitamin C and 800 times stronger than CoQ10.
And unlike other antioxidants, it never becomes a pro-oxidant in the body. It’s not called the “king of carotenoids” for nits.
So let’s look at some of the more important astaxanthin uses – ones I use for dogs in my practice.
1. Dry Eye And Retina Health
Keratoconjuctivitis sicca (KCS) is a condition that is commonly referred to as “dry eye” in dogs and I like to use astaxanthin to treat dry eye. It works as an anti-inflammatory. The medical term means inflammation of the cornea and surrounding tissues from dryness. It’s a common condition resulting from inadequate production of the aqueous portion of the tear film that protects a dog’s eye by the lacrimal gland (a gland of the third eyelid gland)
While conditions such as hypothyroidism and autoimmune disease as well as reactions to sulfa drugs may cause KCS, the gland can rejuvenate with the proper holistic management. Astaxanthin can cross the barrier to reach the retina, a barrier that few make it through.
I would also recommend astanxanthin for retinal detachment and sight in general. While this antioxidant is relatively new on the scene, it’s an important one for eye health, and it’s not hard for me to imagine that it would be very effective in preventing cataracts.
2. Joint Health
Astaxanthin is a serious anti-inflammatory. So it’s great for joint health too. Measure it against any other joint product you use for your dogs. It actually blocks and handles several different chemicals that create pain. It reduces inflammation in the body and inflammation is what, always and eventually, helps create chronic disease.
3. Heart Disease
Astaxanthin has been proven to reduce C-Reactive Protein (CRP) in the body. CRP is a key indicator of heart disease and lowering CRP can help prevent as well as treat heart problems. I would recommend Astanxanthin before CoQ10 as it is 800 times more powerful.
Besides being great for joint health, eye function and heart health, astanxanthin is also great for brain function, cancer prevention, immune system health and slows the aging process. And these health benefits of astaxanthin that we’re currently aware of are likely just the tip of the iceberg.
But not all astaxanthin is the same …
Natural Sources Of Astaxanthin
Currently, the primary industrial source for natural astaxanthin is the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis, which seems to accumulate the highest levels of astaxanthin in nature. Conveniently, these little folks naturally double their volume every week. Commercially, more than 40 g of astaxanthin can be obtained from one kg of dry biomass. Hemoatococcus pluvialis is used to make high dose human and pet supplements naturally. A yeast, Phaffia rhodozyma, also generates substantial amounts of astaxanthin and is used to create supplements; however it can be genetically modified, so it’s safest to check that your supplement is made from microalgae.
Beware Synthetic Astaxanthin
Nearly all commercial astaxanthin for aquaculture is produced synthetically selling at over five thousand dollars a kilo. However, synthetic production of astaxanthin is not so hot because it contains a mixture of stereoisomers. Stereoisomers are molecules that have the same molecular formula and but are arranged differently in three-dimensional space. Some of these stereoisomers affect digestibility and bioavailability. This is a good reason to avoid synthetic astaxanthin as it may be less well absorbed by the body than the naturally-sourced form.
Synthetic astaxanthin is not approved for human use (likely because of petrochemicals used in astaxanthin synthesis) … and you don’t want to give it to your dog either. Synthetic astaxanthin is used in animal feeds, especially in the fish farming industry. So when you buy salmon, whether for you or your dog, make sure you always buy wild, not farmed salmon.
Recommended Astaxanthin Dosage
Astaxanthin is a great protective antioxidant to add into your dog’s diet. Use a naturally sourced supplement. If you buy an astaxanthin supplement made for pets, follow the label directions. If you buy a product made for people, assume the dosage is for a 150 lb person and adjust for your dog’s weight. For example, many human astaxanthin supplements recommend 8 mg to 12 mg per day, which means you can give your dog 1 mg to 1.6 mg daily per 20 lbs of bodyweight.
Food Sources Of Astaxanthin
If you want to feed astanxanthin-rich foods, the best is wild Pacific salmon, which have the highest content ranging from 4 to 40 milligrams per kilogram. Again, don’t use farmed fish as these have likely been fed synthetic astaxanthin.
Like other carotenoids, astaxanthin has self-limited absorption orally and such low toxicity by mouth that no toxic syndrome is known, so it’s very safe for your dog. So you might want to consider adding this super antioxidant to your dog’s diet.
Now, as I threatened, here’s the test: can you spell the A word? And say it really fast 10 times in a row?
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