At this year’s SupplySide West trade show, AstaReal (Moses Lake, WA) highlighted its latest research and product innovations in the astaxanthin category. The company featured a new, cold-water-soluble astaxanthin ingredient, AstaReal CWS25, which can be incorporated into cold beverages without settling or staining the neck ring of the bottle. The company said that the new astaxanthin ingredient is perfect for sports nutrition and on-the-go beverages.
Karen Hecht, PhD, technical marketing specialist, AstaReal, and Christopher Imanaka, brand manager, AstaReal, spoke with Nutritional Outlook at the show about why the cold-water-soluble powder is the perfect solution for incorporating astaxanthin into difficult-to-formulate beverage products. “Astaxanthin is a fat-soluble nutrient. In terms of our health, that’s actually an advantage, because that means we can hold onto it and store it in our bodies longer than a water-soluble nutrient,” said Hecht. “But incorporating [astaxanthin] into water solutions is tricky.” She noted that while there are other dispersible astaxanthin options currently on the market, many of those offerings [still] have problems with dispersing evenly and neck-ring staining—problems that AstaReal’s ingredient doesn’t have.
At SupplySide, AstaReal was particularly keen on showing off the new ingredient to potential sports nutrition customers and how it can be used in formulation. “You don’t need to heat the water [during formulation] to get it in there, so it can be used for sports beverages, or on-the go,” Hecht said. But while sports nutrition is undoubtedly a major focus for AstaReal, its aims go beyond the category. “What we really want to be able to do is target people in a way that’s going to fit their lifestyle.”
Hecht continued: “We have a great R&D and product innovation department. We’ve been in the business a long time, and we pioneered the industry. So, we used that scientific expertise and understanding of this one molecule that we’ve dedicated all our efforts to to make this product.”
Astaxanthin for Healthy Skin
That scientific expertise is one of the reasons AstaReal stands out in an increasingly crowded market, Hecht said. Like sports nutrition, skin-health is a promising market for the company. Astaxanthin’s purported antioxidant properties make it especially attractive for beauty-from-within formulations, which is an area that the company says it continues to invest in with skin-health research. On the research front, AstaReal recently wrapped up a skin-health study, which examined the effects of astaxanthin on subjects’ skin condition. The study was conducted in two parts. In the first part, researchers looked at skin cells in vitro to gauge which markers for inflammation lead to low-humidity-associated deteriorations in skin conditions. The second stage was the human study. Researchers supplemented subjects with either 6 mg or 12 mg astaxanthin for 16 weeks, during which they assessed participants’ skin condition. In the placebo group, they observed a deterioration of skin conditions, including deeper wrinkles; in both astaxanthin groups, participants maintained skin condition.
In addition to AstaReal CWS25, the company also showcased its other astaxanthin powders at the show—one which contains 4% astaxanthin, “the highest astaxanthin powder currently on the market,” and another 2.5% astaxanthin powder with slightly different properties. Imanaka said that both of these products can be formulated into a wide array of applications; for example, in tablets, instant drinks, soft gels, or effervescent tablets.
As AstaReal looks to the future of astaxanthin innovation, two key goals emerge: “Our main goal is to educate the consumer,” Hecht said. AstaReal’s Astaxanthin.net website, she said, is one way that the company hopes to make the science behind astaxanthin more accessible. On that website, consumers can browse AstaReal’s product offerings and learn more about how astaxanthin can help with specific concerns like fatigue, brain health, or athletic performance.
The company’s other goal, Hecht said, is to explore novel delivery forms. “We have the softgel down…so now I think we need to find new ways to incorporate astaxanthin into food, gummies, chew, and effervescents, you name it,” she told Nutritional Outlook. “And [also] to think of ways that people can incorporate astaxanthin into their regular healthy lifestyle routine as much as possible.”
Ultimately, Hecht said, innovation never sleeps. “We continue to perfect it. It’s not done. It’s never done. We’re always developing and working on new ways to get astaxanthin out there.”