What is the Best Form of Astaxanthin?
Interview with Dr. Rudi Moerck
Interviewed by Raena Morgan
November 3, 2009
Raena Morgan: Where astaxanthin is concerned, are all supercritical extractions the same? What are we looking for here to get the best product?
Dr. Rudi Moerck: Commercially, astaxanthin today is produced by the extraction of haematococcus algae biomass, and there are several ways of producing it. It’s produced in Israel in closed systems. It’s being produced in Hawaii in open ponds. It’s being produced in South India in open ponds.
RM: In open ponds, okay.
DRM: It’s also being produced in Hawaii in closed systems. It’s being produced in Sweden in closed systems. Those are what I would call the farmers of haematococcus; they actually don’t produce astaxanthin.
RM: They don’t? Okay.
DRM: Once the biomass is filtered, dried and kept cold, that biomass has to be extracted, and Valensa is the only extractor of biomass that actually sells astaxanthin.
RM: Oh, really? Okay.
DRM: Correct. All of the other sellers of astaxanthin are generally the biomass producers that have the astaxanthin extracted by an extractor. I believe that since we have several sources of biomass, we can standardize our extract, and we are a certified organic, full FDA-compliant facility that we have very good control of quality, concentration of our astaxanthin. And Valensa just recently issued a press release that clearly demonstrated that the shelf life of our astaxanthin is four years; that’s really good.
RM: Four years?
DRM: Four years.
RM: That’s very good.
DRM: Now there are products on the market extracted that first of all are extracted in facilities that also extract shellfish; that could be potentially an issue, but we haven’t seen any actual allergen issues, but it could be. We also have seen through publications and stability testing that some astaxanthin on the market today has a shelf life of one year from date of manufacture at almost freezing temperatures. So if you are consuming a soft gel that has astaxanthin in it, it could be that the material you received already has half a year shelf life loss.
RM: I see, okay.
DRM: We’re four years, others are usually at less than one year to two years, so that shows that we’re doing something special to improve the quality of our product. We also add our O2B protection package to the astaxanthin that helps it boost the stability. And I always like to say this, because consumers have a very easy time understand this, our O2B peroxidation blocker package protects the product, but it also protects the people that consume the product because that antioxidant is then also bioavailable to the consumer.
RM: That’s really critically important, that it’s bioavailable.
DRM: It’s an extra benefit, it’s an extra benefit. Also, our astaxanthin oleoresin, which we call xanthin, contains other carotenoids.
RM: Oh, it does? Okay.
DRM: Right. And it contains about 15 percent other carotenoids, including beta carotene, zeaxanthin, et cetera. And these other carotenoids, I see them as having a belt and suspenders so your pants don’t fall down. In other words, the astaxanthin is the fastest reacting carotenoids; it reacts with oxygen and free radicals faster than all the others, therefore it’s going to be the one that depletes first-
DRM: -because that’s the way it’s supposed to work. But once it’s depleted, is there a catch fence? Do you ski downhill off of a mountain without catch fence? Well that catch fence in the case of carotenoids an antioxidant are beta carotene, zeaxanthin and lutein; those react slower with oxygen, but once the really powerful stuff is gone, those are still there to help.
DRM: And some astaxanthin products on the market are 97 percent astaxanthin and have virtually no other carotenoids, which I think makes them not quite as good from a human health point of view.
RM: So the beta carotene, the lutein, they kind of pick up the slack when-
DRM: When astaxanthin- astaxanthin is doing a great job, but eventually it’s going to go away because the way it works is it traps the oxygen or it traps the free radical and it’s sacrificial, if you will.
DRM: And then do you have anything else that can kind of back it up? Those things would be the thing to back it up. I might add one other interesting side note, and that is that many Americans are dog lovers.
RM: That’s true.
DRM: And Valensa, my company, has a patent on the use of astaxanthin to mitigate the effects of age-related macular degeneration. But the important thing is that cataracts and age-related macular degeneration is a huge problem in older dogs; not so much in cats because cats are often indoors. But dogs are exposed to a lot of UV light, and I think that it’s a good supplement to give.
RM: To give the dogs?