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Haematococcus Pluvialis and Astaxanthin

Haematococcus pluvialis, a microalga, is the richest known natural source for astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is classified as a carotenoid. Carotenoids are lipid-soluble pigments. They are also known for their antioxidant properties. They are what colors the orange and red found in plants and algae, and blues, purples and reddish colors in aquatic animals. Algae, plants, phytoplankton, as well as particular bacteria and fungi are the only organisms that can synthesize carotenoids. The human species as well as other animal species cannot carotenoids and must included them as part of their diet to maintain proper health. The large volume of astaxanthin occurs within the resting cells, that are generated and quickly accumulated once the ecological conditions turns undesirable for natural cell growth.

Haematococcus pluvialis is thought to collect the greatest amounts of astaxanthin found in nature. Commercially cultivated Haematococcus pluvialis can amass greater than 40g of Astaxanthin per kilo.

Sources Amount
Krill ~ 120
Arctic Shrimp ~ 1200
Haematococcus pluvialis ~40,000

The process to produce Haematococcus pluvialis commerically is based on two stages. Stage one is called the green stage. It starts indoors utilizing a single-cell colony of the Haematococcus algae. In this stage the cells being reproduced are in a relaxed state, i.e. none stressed. The object of this stage is to create as many cells as possible using normal cell division. Once this stage is complete they are moved into an environment where they become stressed and will produce Astaxanthin at high levels. In most cases the environment required to produce the stressful state occur in solar-powered photobioreactors.

Naturally occuring astaxanthin found in algae and fish as mono-esters and di-esters of fatty acids have already demonstrated to be fundamentally much more stable compared to the synthetic free form compound. Astaxanthin produced from naturally occuring organisms, such as algae, deliver a substantially longer shelf-life without becoming oxidized and high bioavailability properties in humans[1]-[2].

The quality guidelines employed to determine high-quality commercial Haematococcus biomass as well as oleoresins is substantial Astaxanthin content within the product, minimal concentrations of biological and chemical contaminants, and exceptional stability in the Astaxanthin product.

  1. Turujman, S.A. et al. (1997), Rapid liquid chromatographic method to distinguish wild salmon from aquacultured salmon fed synthetic astaxanthin. J. AOAC Int. 80: 622–632.
  2. Mercke Odeberg J.; Lignell A.; Pettersson A.; Hoglund P. (2003), Oral bioavailability of the antioxidant astaxanthin in humans is enhanced by incorporation of lipid based formulations. Eur J Pharm Sci 19(4): 299-304.