Natural algae astaxanthin manufacturers Fuji Chemical Industry Co. Ltd. (AstaREAL®), Algatechnologies Ltd. (AstaPure®), and Cyanotech Corp., (BioAstin®), announce that they will form the Natural Algae Astaxanthin Association (NAXA), a trade organization dedicated to educating the public and dietary supplement industry about the health benefits of natural astaxanthin and the major differences between sources. These three founding members will welcome other algae-based astaxanthin producers to the Association in the near future.
“With the recent introduction of synthetic astaxanthin made from petrochemicals [which is being marketed as ‘Nature Identical’], it has become very important for the astaxanthin producers who have developed the market over the last decade to point out how different the various sources are,” said Oran Ayalon, PhD, director of R&D at Algatechnologies. “There are tremendous differences in terms of effectiveness between the different sources.”
Mr Kazuyuki Miyakawa, chief scientific advisor at Fuji, added, “A new research article published last month in NutraFoods, a peer-reviewed technical journal, points out that in different antioxidant tests at a prominent U.S.-based university and a leading independent laboratory specializing in antioxidant testing, natural algae astaxanthin proved to be a minimum of 20X to over 50X stronger as an antioxidant than synthetic astaxanthin. This leads to critical concerns in regards to effectiveness for the synthetic version, particularly since no human health benefits have been established on synthetic astaxanthin. If synthetic astaxanthin has only 2 percent to 5 percent of the antioxidant power of natural algae astaxanthin, how can it possibly work as well for heart health, brain health, joint health, skin health, and the other areas in which we have established solid evidence from human clinical trials on natural algae astaxanthin?”
In addition to effectiveness, questions are being raised in the industry about the safety of synthetic astaxanthin. “The animal feed industry has used synthetic astaxanthin for many years as an artificial color, mostly to pigment the flesh of salmon,” said Gerald Cysewski, PhD, founder and chief scientific officer of Cyanotech. “They've done safety testing in animals, but we have not found any evidence in the literature of safety testing in direct human use. This is a grave concern, particularly when we think about the health issues that surfaced with the use in humans of other synthetic carotenoids such as beta-carotene and canthaxanthin. Synthetic beta-carotene actually increased the incidence of cancer in the famous “Finnish Smokers’ study” in the 1990's. However, the literature is full of studies showing that natural beta carotene helps prevent cancer. And with synthetic canthaxanthin (a closely-related carotenoid to astaxanthin), crystals formed in the retina of consumers' eyes which subsequently took 20 years to dissipate. This all shows that extensive, long-range safety studies should be conducted with synthetic astaxanthin in humans before it is released on the market. In the meantime, natural algae astaxanthin has been on the market for over 15 years with absolutely no documented safety concern.”
The Natural Algae Astaxanthin Association will begin its work to educate consumers and the trade about the many clinically validated health benefits of natural algae astaxanthin, and will continue to research and publish on the differences between the natural form and its distant synthetic cousin. Dr. Ayalon concluded, “There are three vital differences between natural algae astaxanthin and synthetic astaxanthin that make them completely different molecules. Number one, they're shaped differently. Synthetic contains forms that are unnatural and may be unsafe. Number two, the natural form comes naturally complexed with supporting and stabilizing algal esters and other carotenoids. Number three, chemical synthesis used to produce synthetic astaxanthin may result in residual reagents and solvents. It's absolutely amazing that synthetic astaxanthin made in a laboratory from petrochemicals can be called ‘Nature Identical.’”