N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is used by the body to build antioxidants. Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that protect and repair cells from damage.
You can get NAC as a supplement or a prescription drug.
Laboratory research has found that an extract from algae that makes astaxanthin slowed the growth of breast and skin cancer cells.
Astaxanthin might help the heart in a number of ways, as well. It may be helpful in preventing plaque buildup in arteries in the heart.
It may also help protect heart muscle from damage from lack of oxygen. This can happen during a heart attack.
Also, by reducing oxidation in the brain, it may protect against Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.
Astaxanthin may reduce the growth of H. pylori bacteria, which cause peptic ulcers. It may also help protect against kidney damage from diabetes. And it may stimulate the immune system.
However, more research is needed before astaxanthin can be recommended for any of these uses.
Supplement makers may suggest varying amounts of astaxanthin for different purposes. Most of the small research studies to date have used between 2 mg and 24 mg daily. However, optimal doses of astaxanthin have not been set for any condition. Quality and active ingredients in supplements may vary widely. This makes it difficult to set a standard dose.
Can you get astaxanthin naturally from foods?
One of the largest sources of astaxanthin is in certain types of marine algae.
Astaxanthin is also found in several types of seafood, including:
Four ounces of sockeye salmon contains about 4.5 milligrams of astaxanthin.