Astaxanthin Helps Lung Health

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
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A new study shows that astaxanthin can prevent tissue injury in the lungs, a problem that eventually leads to scarring and compromised health. Considering the large amount of pollutants Americans are exposed to, this study indicates that astaxanthin offers crucial protection. It is of particular importance for people with existing respiratory issues.

Maintaining excellent lung health is an important priority for overall wellbeing. If the ability to get oxygen in or carbon dioxide out is reduced or impaired, a health-deteriorating domino effect occurs, especially in the cardiovascular system. Individuals prone to shortness of breath, exercise-induced asthma, asthma in general, respiratory infections, and/or who smoke or who have smoked are at particular risk for lung-related wear and tear.

The progression away from healthy lung tissue is an extra effort on the part of the lungs to synthesize new cells and structure. This effort can become misguided, resulting in abnormal collagen deposition, excessive amounts of fibrous connective tissue, and eventual scar formation. Lung damage occurs on a sliding scale, where we see optimal lung health progress all the way down to the excess scarring the medical profession calls pulmonary fibrosis. 

A key goal is to prevent sliding in the wrong direction, while working to improve existing problems. Exercising your lungs helps. Breathing deeply during exercise or playing a wind instrument are examples.

In the study with astaxanthin, researchers used animal and cell models of pulmonary fibrosis. The results showed that astaxanthin significantly improved the structure of the lung cells responsible for oxygen exchange (alveoli), as well as prevented the adverse deposition of collagen that leads to abnormal connective tissue and eventual scarring. Astaxanthin helped regulate multiple gene signals, preventing problems from occurring in the first place, preventing the progression of existing of problems, and even helping to clear out inappropriate cell formations.

Due to these multiple mechanisms of protection, the researchers concluded that “astaxanthin could relieve the symptoms and halt the progression of pulmonary fibrosis.”

These mechanisms of operation are relevant to any person seeking to improve or maintain optimal respiratory health.

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