Health, Science

Natural Astaxanthin vs. Synthetic Astaxanthin

While their names might be the same, these two ingredients couldn’t be more different.

Synthetic astaxanthin makes up more than 99% of the global astaxanthin market, which is hardly surprising considering it is much cheaper and easier to produce than natural astaxanthin. Here we take a look at some of the key differences between the two materials and explain why natural astaxanthin (ASX) truly is reserved for the ‘one percenters’.


The richest source of astaxanthin in Nature is Haematococcus pluvialis, a microalgae that grows in Arctic marine environments as well as in fresh water rock pools all over the world. The powerful antioxidant effect of astaxanthin protects the algae and allows it to survive in very harsh conditions. Even in instances where rock pools have completely dried up and UV radiation from the sun has intensified, the astaxanthin-rich algae is able to continue surviving for months or even years. In essence, the algae has become perfectly evolved to produce natural ASX.

Synthetic astaxanthin, on the other hand, is produced from petrochemicals in a laboratory. While natural astaxanthin is around 95% esterified, the synthetic variety is completely free-form, making it less stable and much less bioavailable.


With more than 100 studies conducted on natural astaxanthin to demonstrate its exceptional safety and efficacy, not a single human study has ever been conducted on the direct consumption of synthetic astaxanthin.

It is true that synthetic astaxanthin is much cheaper to produce and to purchase, but at what true to cost to human health?


In addition to their composition, these two ingredients also differ when it comes to their effect on the human body.

Natural ASX comes in the form of an astaxanthin complex, containing small amounts of beta-carotene, lutein and canthaxanthin. This ‘carotenoid cocktail’ only exists in nature and is the result of the algae’s natural evolution. These substances work synergistically to enhance the effect of astaxanthin, making it far more effective as an antioxidant and cell energiser.

There have in fact been some direct comparison studies between natural and synthetic astaxanthin, carried out at Creighton University and Brunswick Laboratories. Tests showed that natural ASX was 20 times more effective than synthetic astaxanthin when it came to eliminating free radicals, and was up to 65 times stronger in its antioxidant capacity.

Core ASX – Designed for the 1%

Natural ASX can be found in the dietary supplement Core ASX®, which contains the highest quality pharmaceutical grade natural ASX from the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis. Backed by science and derived from nature, this powerful formula delivers 8mg of natural ASX in every serving, which is the same dosage that has been studied for its benefits on skin health, cognitive health, sports performance, eye health and immunity.

Links to more recent studies: