It’s hard to pronounce and even harder to spell, but dog owners, vets, and behaviorists are spreading the word about the antioxidant called astaxanthin. It’s the natural red pigment that gives lobsters, shrimp, krill, and flamingos (from the shrimp they eat) their color, but turning things red and pink isn’t what people are talking about. Evidence shows dogs, cats, and people can benefit from the antioxidant’s powerful way of protecting the body from free radicals. And don’t worry, it won’t turn your dog pink.
What Are Free Radicals Anyway?
A free radical is a single atom with an unpaired electron that forms due to an exposure to chemicals from processed foods, pollution, or some other kind of toxin. Dogs Naturally Magazine reports that sometimes a dog’s immune system produces its own free radicals to fight infections, but they usually do more harm than good.
Electrons aren’t meant to be on their own, so when they’re single, they react quickly with other compounds in order to steal a mate. Taking single electrons from wherever they can find them causes a chain reaction of damage to cells. More of these unstable free radicals are formed, and it leads to something called oxidative stress. Free radicals and oxidative stress are associated with several serious medical conditions including cancer, heart disease, and premature aging.
How Astaxanthin Fights Free Radicals
On a cellular level, astaxanthin serves as a protective shield strong enough to protect against free radicals. It permeates the cell and forms a type of shell to prevent free radicals from spreading cellular damage. It’s capable of handling multiple free radicals at a time and effectively neutralizes the threat. Other antioxidants, like vitamin C, also work against free radicals, but astaxanthin is by far the strongest. It’s 6,000 times more potent than vitamin C, and most living beings benefit from an astaxanthin supplement in their diet.
Specific Strengths of Astaxanthin
While researchers are still discovering the exact ways astaxanthin benefits health and well-being, there are several specific areas where they believe the antioxidant does the most good. Veterinarians often recommend an astaxanthin nutritional supplement for the following benefits.
Joint Health: Astaxanthin has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that support pain-free joints. It suppresses certain chemicals that cause chronic pain. As dogs age, the cartilage that cushions bones in joints deteriorates. Standing up, walking, climbing stairs, even lowering their head to eat from a food bowl can be painful. Astaxanthin isn’t a cure, but studies suggest it helps prevent joint issues in dogs.
Eye Health: The same anti-inflammatory properties that benefit joints also promote eye health. Dry eye is a common condition caused by the inflammation of the cornea. Astaxanthin is one of the few antioxidants capable of holistically rejuvenating the affected ocular glands. Dr. Mercola also suggests it can be used to protect eyes from macular degeneration and cataracts.
Heart Heath: A study published with the National Center for Biotechnology Information shows that astaxanthin can be used to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by limiting the production of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the body. CRP is made in the liver and used as a blood test marker indicating inflammation.
Cancer Prevention: Cancer is characterized by the rapid and uncontrolled multiplication of cells. The cells invade healthy tissues and organs to create tumors and wreak havoc on normal body function. Early studies suggest astaxanthin slows down cell proliferation and promotes apoptosis (cell death) of damaged cells.
Natural sources of astaxanthin include Krill, salmon, red trout, lobster, and crawfish, but your pup will best benefit from a daily supplement added to their meal. When shopping around for the right product, be aware of synthetic compounds that are not as easily absorbed by the body. You want a product made specifically for dogs from all-natural ingredients and something your dog will willingly consume without the hassle of pill pockets and forced-feeding.
DermWELL Grain Free Skin & Coat Chews with Pure Antarctic Krill Oil are an excellent source of natural astaxanthin. The tasty chews contain 30mg of the powerful antioxidant to benefit the overall health of dogs. The nutrient-supplying ingredients include krill meal, DHAgold, and several other quality ingredients loaded with omega fatty acids. A chew or two added to your dog’s regular meal will promote healthy fur, skin, eyes, and much more.
This article was originally published at iHeartDogs.