Astaxanthin was shown to significantly improve sports endurance and strength in a ground breaking 2008 astaxanthin study for body building and performance athletes. Exercise performance improved 55% for those who had taken only 4 mg AstaREAL astaxanthin daily for six months.
The 2008 astaxanthin study by Curt Malmsten and Ake Lignell looked at the astaxanthin effects on physical performance. Forty students participated in this double blind placebo controlled astaxanthin study. The scientists used algae meal (AstaREAL®) as the astaxanthin supplement. Twenty students got the real capsules with 4 mg astaxanthin per pill. The other twenty received placebo pills, also for six months.
The physical strengths examined were strength/endurance, fitness and strength/explosivity by standard exercises. Each student was tested for their baseline strengths before the astaxanthin supplementation started. For the students who took the real astaxanthin for six months the average number of squats increased by 54.9% or 27.05 squats (from 49.32 to 76.37).
4 MG Astaxanthin for 6 Months
The students who had taken the placebo increased their performance by 19.5% or 9.0 squats (from 46.06 to 55.06). Therefore, the increase in the astaxanthin supplemented group was three times higher than the improvement in the placebo group (P=0.047). None of the other strength tests differed significantly between the groups at the end of the research period. Based on their research the scientists conclude that astaxanthin improves strength and endurance in sports performance.
The two researchers find the strength and endurance improvement extremely interesting, because there's no obvious mechanism that can explain the better muscle endurance and improved tolerance for lactic acid. The physical benefits of astaxanthin can neither be explained by increased muscle mass, because the students didn't gain any significant weight. They speculate that astaxanthin protects the cell membrane, including the mitochondrial membrane, against oxidative stress that comes with intense exercise. It's possible that astaxanthin thereby preserves the functionality of the muscle cells, they say.
More Astaxanthin Research Confirmed
The researchers note that the observed astaxanthin benefits for physical performance are corroborated by previous scientific studies with astaxanthin in mice who increased exhaustive swimming time  and by another astaxanthin study that showed lower biomarkers for muscle fatigue in humans .