Astaxanthin is a carotenoid that is prevalent in algae, fatty fish, yeast, and crustaceans. Like most carotenoids, it is a powerful antioxidant and exhibits blood pressure lowering, immune system boosting and anti-inflammatory properties. In a recent study published in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Japan scientists investigated the effects of astaxanthin supplementation on skeletal muscle fat metabolism in mice. Animals were either supplemented for 4 weeks or given no treatment and were then put into exercise or sedentary groups. Exercise consisted of bouts of exhaustive treadmill running, 5 days per week for 4 weeks. After one week of training, assessment of metabolic rate was completed using indirect calorimetry and upon completion of training blood and muscle tissues were collected for analysis of metabolic markers.  It was found that astaxanthin treatment resulted in greater exercise time to exhaustion due to increased fat utilization in skeletal muscle during exercise. Furthermore, the researchers reported that the mice receiving astaxanthin had greater fat burning effects from exercise than those that did not receive the supplement. They attributed the increased fat burning to increased colocalization of fat metabolizing substrates (i.e, fatty acid translocase with carnitine palmitoyltransferase I) in skeletal muscle. The authors concluded that the astaxanthin supplementation combined with exhaustive exercise increases exercise endurance. As well, supplementation of astaxanthin during training results in a shift from carbohydrate utilization to fat burning resulting in greater reductions in body fat.

Aoi W, Naito Y, Takanami Y, Ishii T, Kawai Y, Akagiri S, Kato Y, Osawa T, Yoshikawa T. Astaxanthin improves muscle lipid metabolism in exercise via inhibitory effect of oxidative CPT I modification. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2008 Feb