BY SANDRA GUY
It’s the perfect makings of a Jeopardy quiz question: How do flamingos get their famously pink coloring?
Answer: Though they’re born with gray feathers, their bodies turn pink because they eat brine shrimp, which in turn feast on microscopic algae. That algae contains carotenoids such as astaxanthin. The red-pigment molecules from astaxanthin get deposited into the flamingos’ feathers and other body parts as the birds’ digestive enzymes break down the food in their livers.
Astaxanthin, a red carotenoid pigment, is called “the king of the carotenoids” because it’s packed with antioxidants that promote optimal health, including eye health. The substance’s unique molecular structure makes it one of the few antioxidants that can cross the blood-brain barrier and travel from the brain to the eye, according to VibraxLabs.
Some research studies have shown that astaxanthin also can provide an added layer of protection against cataracts, glaucoma, blurry eyes and eye fatigue.
The best way to ingest astaxanthin is to eat the equivalent of two servings of fatty fish per week to support heart health, according to the American Heart Association (AHA) Nutrition Committee.
Astaxanthin can be found in a variety of fish — and be sure to choose wild-caught if possible. Besides coho and sockeye salmon, as well as lobster and shrimp, other sources include:
- Red snapper
- Rainbow trout
Research recommends taking four to 12 mg per day of astaxanthin in the diet or in supplement form to support healthy eyes, muscles and skin.
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