Astaxanthin: structural and functional aspects

Astaxantina: aspectos estruturais e funcionais

Astaxanthin, a carotenoid belonging to the xanthophyll class, has stirred great interest due to its antioxidant capacity and its possible role in reducing the risk of some diseases. Astaxanthin occurs naturally in microalgae, such as Haematococcus pluvialis and the yeast Phaffia rhodozyma, and has also been considered to be the major carotenoid in salmon and crustaceans. Shrimp processing waste, which is generally discarded, is also an important source of astaxanthin. The antioxidant activity of astaxanthin has been observed to modulate biological functions related to lipid peroxidation, having beneficial effects on chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, macular degeneration and cancer. Researches have shown that both astaxanthin obtained from natural sources and its synthetic counterpart produce satisfactory effects, but studies in humans are limited to natural sources. There is no established nutritional recommendation regarding astaxanthin daily intake but most studies reported beneficial results from a daily intake of 4mg. Thus, this review discusses some aspects of the carotenoid astaxanthin, highlighting its chemical structure and antioxidant activity, and some studies that report its use in humans.

Antioxidants; Astaxanthin; Carotenoids; Chronic diseases

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