Reliable, responsible astaxanthin suppliers take quality, purity, and sustainability seriously. This post focuses on some of the things manufacturers should consider when looking for a quality astaxanthin supplier.
Natural Astaxanthin Sources
Astaxanthin is a carotenoid that occurs naturally in aquatic animals such as lobsters and salmon (contributing to their pinkish-red color) and in many fruits and vegetables. Although it can be produced synthetically from petrochemicals, the natural version is far superior in terms of efficacy and safety. As an ingredient for dietary supplements, the best source of astaxanthin is the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis due to its high astaxanthin concentration. Using an optimised production process, more than 60,000 mg of pure natural astaxanthin can be obtained from one kilogram of algal biomass.
Environment and Sustainability
Algae is more sustainable than conventional crops because it requires little input to be kept alive. However, algae cultivation—depending on the setup—can require substantial amounts of water and energy. Therefore, conservation techniques should be in place such as production methods that allow for minimal water evaporation and specialized lighting systems to reduce energy consumption. In fact, because energy is essential for microalgae cultivation, electricity requirements can cause environmental burdens if manufacturers rely on non-renewable energy resources. Consequently, responsible astaxanthin suppliers using artificial light should ensure their cultivation facilities are powered by renewable energy. Although sunlight can be used to cultivate Haematococcus pluvialis, the inability to grow or stress the algae during the night reduces productivity significantly.
As the primary input for microalgae cultivation, the importance of water purity cannot be overstated. Due to the high biosorption capabilities of microalgae, any trace amount of heavy metals or other contaminants present in the water will accumulate and magnify in microalgae cultures. Due to human activities, heavy metal concentrations in water exceed maximum permitted levels in many parts of the world. Therefore, responsible astaxanthin manufacturers have access to clean water sources and ensure that their products are strictly and routinely monitored for heavy metals and other contaminants.
Best Practices in Harvesting and Production
Microalgae cultivation is a technical and highly-skilled process, and it is essential for buyers of astaxanthin to know where the ingredient has been produced and under what conditions. Haematococcus pluvialis can be cultivated in open-pond or photobioreactor systems. Although open-ponds are cheaper to build, they have been associated with contamination issues and excessive space and water requirements. Indoor, enclosed photobioreactor cultivation systems, on the other hand, have been shown to enable optimal growth of the microalgae, continuous cultivation, and high yields of pure astaxanthin, increasing the culture reliability and overall productivity. Moreover, photobioreactor cultivation systems help to protect the culture from external contamination.
Natural astaxanthin has GRAS status in the United States. It is important that astaxanthin is produced in a cGMP compliant facility. The market is also demanding additional tests and validations of ingredient quality and purity, including non-GMO project verified, Halal, Kosher, gluten-free, allergen-free, free of heavy metals and solvents.