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Several members have enquired about foods known to be beneficent for eye problems which could be precursors for macula degeneration.
One such nutrient is astaxanthin (pronounced asta-zan-thin): found in seafoods such as salmon, lobster and shrimp. However to get full benefit it would be necessary to eat the equivalent of 800 grams of salmon daily (over 1 ½ lbs): which the heartiest appetite in the world may well get tired of (not to mention the digestive system) in a short time.
(This is reminiscent of the London apprentices in the 17th century who went on strike because they were given salmon for lunch every day. In those times the Thames was clean and had plenty of salmon).
One of the few alternatives is farmed bio-astxanthin. Bio-xanthin is natural astaxanthin - a deep red carotenoid complex produced by the micro alga Haematococcus pluvialis. Astaxanthin is found in sea foods such as salmon, lobster and shrimp. One particular micro algae is nature’s richest source, and is grown in self-contained ponds on an aquaculture farm in Hawaii.
Astaxanthin is structurally similar to beta-carotene, but with a strong functional difference: astaxanthin R-bonds occur in natural astaxanthin when one or more fatty acids or peptides are attached to the molecule. This unique chemistry of natural astaxanthin allows spanning of cell membranes, crossing blood-brain barrier, and bonding directly with muscle tissue. Beta-carotene and lycopene do not have these bonding sites.

Benefits of Astaxanthin

1. Nature’s strongest antioxidant: ten times stronger than beta-carotene and up to 500 times stronger than vitamin E - delivers benefits directly to brain and central nervous system
2. Significant improvements in: skin elasticity, smoothness, moisture, spots
3. Retards and prevents sunburn and protects skin from sun damage
4. Reduces both severity and duration of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (RSI)
5. Excellent anti-inflammatory with relevance for cancer, strokes, diabetes and Alzheimer’s
6. Combats soreness and joint pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Tennis Elbow (tendonitis)
7. Shortens recovery time and prevents joint and muscle soreness after exercise
8. Enhances immune system response
9. Macular Degeneration and Visual Acuity:
• inhibits macular degeneration  
• protects eyes from light-induced damage
• improves visual acuity and reduces eye strain
10. Significant improvement in cholesterol and triglyceride levels
11. Reduces C-reactive protein – a key indicator of heart disease

Neascu A, Oprean C, Curea M, Tuchila G, Trifu M (2003) Neuroprotection with carotenoids in glaucoma. Ophtalmologia 59(4):70-5
 
PURPOSE: The aim of the paper was to assess the place of the natural carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin) in glaucoma optic neuropathy. METHODS: For this purpose, we carried out an experimental and prospective study, during 3 months, on 8 laboratory animals (Guinea pigs), which we increased the IOP, in both eyes, by cautery of two episcleral vessels. The animals were divided into treatment in two groups: the group I (5 Guinea pigs) which we modified their usual diets by adding 2 cps/day of IcapsL (6 mg lutein/zeaxanthin) and the group II (3 Guinea pigs)--control group, without increasing the diet with lutein and zeaxanthin. The statistical analysis was performed by Student's t test.
RESULTS: Before the cautery of episcleral vessels, the mean IOP was 16.8 mm Hg in group I and 16.5 mm Hg in the group II; after the cautery of episcleral vessels, the mean IOP was 26.2 mm Hg in group I and 25.9 mm Hg in the group II (p = 0.004). At the end of the study, the levels of serum lutein were 0.64 mumol/L in group I and 0.22 mumol/L in group II. The loss of retinal ganglion cells was 18.9% in group I and 29.7% in martor group, in correlation with the cup/disc ratio: 0.37, respectively 0.51. Also, in the group II, the increase of IOP was associated at the myelin portion of optic nerve head with axonal degeneration in peripheral regions.
CONCLUSIONS: Glaucoma optic neuropathy has a multifactorial pathogenesis, including the oxidative stress. Lutein and zeaxanthin, with its strong antioxidative effects, can represent a viable solution in the complex treatment of glaucoma.
 
Further information is available via at  www.bioxanthin.co.uk
and at: www.astaxanthin.org/index.htm
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