Fact: The world’s number 1 killer? Cardiovascular disease. It accounts for more than 18 million – 33% of global deaths every year. Number 2? Cancer. 10 million deaths per year. Total deaths from these two are 5-fold the number of deaths by Covid-19 to date (5.2 million) (according to Worldometers and World Heart Federation)!


#1: If you are alive and breathing, you produce free radicals – they are the by-product of normal metabolic processes. Under constant exposure to pollution, pesticides, excess sunlight and smoking, free radicals are over-produced, turned into “bad guys”, rendering our built-in antioxidant defence overloaded.

#2: Initially, you won’t feel this imbalance and damage from oxidative stress. Instead, it silently contributes to premature cellular aging and chronic health conditions (the killers). You deal with the damage after the symptoms have begun, and it’s sometimes too late to be fixed.

That’s why ‘prevention is better than cure’ and Antioxidants come to the rescue. And if you want the best one, it’s NATURAL ASTAXANTHIN. Why? Answers below.


Astaxanthin is the most powerful Antioxidant known to science (and dare we say, the most powerful Antioxidant on Earth). Several studies demonstrate Astaxanthin’s power in combating oxidative stress.

First, let’s get an idea of just how powerful that antioxidant is compared to fan-favourite ones. How much of a difference could it possibly be, right? Well, have a seat and look at the numbers below.

Figure 1: Astaxanthin’s antioxidant activity in comparison with common antioxidants

Natural Astaxanthin is the major league. And remember how high the stakes are: we’re talking about Antioxidant properties to reduce cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Wonder why Astaxanthin has this ‘superior’ strength and potency? Take a look at HOW DIFFERENTLY it combats oxidative stress.

1. Astaxanthin is the ‘tall’ & strong team mate you need on your side to reach just about anything

The position of an antioxidant relative to the cell membrane determines the following:

  1. Areas it can exert antioxidant activity (whether outside and/or inside the cell membrane), and
  2. Impacts on the cell membrane structure (disruption or stabilization).

Astaxanthin fits precisely on the cell membrane and spans from the outer membrane surface and extending through to the inner surface of the cell. That gives Astaxanthin the power no other antioxidants can match!

But how about other antioxidants?

Figure 2: Position of popular antioxidants on the cell membrane
  • Vitamin C – the “every day” antioxidant that makes you picture an orange and is notoriously recommended during flu season – only works on the outside of the cell membrane to catch free radicals ‘near’ the cell membrane. Vitamin C is also only hydrophilic (water-loving), thus can’t attach itself on the lipid bi-layer of the cell membrane.
  • Beta-carotene – present in fruits and veggies with a red, orange, or yellow color (think carrots) – can only stay and protect the inside of the cell membrane (particularly the fatty interior). After all, Beta-carotene is lipid-soluble!
  • Vitamin E – found in plant-based oils, nuts, seeds, fruits and veggies (think avocados and almonds) – is also only located inside the cell membrane. However, with a hydrophilic head and hydrophobic tail, Vitamin E is positioned differently in that it does bind to the cell membrane but with only one end on the aqueous part and the tail in the fatty interior (yes, too “short” to reach the other aqueous area of the cell membrane). In this sense, Vitamin E has to take her hat off to the taller, cooler Astaxanthin.
  • Astaxanthin – being hydrophilic on both ends and hydrophobic in the middle – can span its width across the cell membrane, thereby protecting the cell INSIDE OUT – a complete protective effect.

2. Astaxanthin is the loyal Antioxidant teammate that won’t swap teams after a hard day’s work

We hate to bad-mouth the good guys, but sometimes after working hard to neutralize free radicals, most antioxidants are exhausted and can become oxidized under certain circumstances (see figure 2).

These fan-favourite antioxidants (Vitamin C, Beta-carotene, Vitamin E) can become pro-oxidant and turn into the ‘bad guys’ inducing free radicals and causing oxidative stress – what they used to fight! For example, a smoker’s lungs tend to have a high oxygen concentration level. Beta-carotene is, therefore, not recommended for smokers due to the increased risk of lung cancer [1].

Natural Astaxanthin, however, hasn’t demonstrated any pro-oxidant effect. It never converts into a free radical (And scientists are working hard to understand the underlying mechanism).

Astaxanthin is both the strong, tall and loyal antioxidant forever!


In today’s highly visual world, we eat with our eyes first. Vibrantly pink salmon is more ‘appealing’ and seems healthier than the duller, pale option.

To satisfy the savvy and more health-conscious customers, farmers turn to feed pigments to enhance the appearance and nutritional value of animal-derived products – including salmon meat, shrimps and egg yolks to name a few.

In the feed pigment industry, carotenoids are extensively used [2], in particular, yellow-to-red pigments such as beta-carotene, lutein, astaxanthin, zeaxanthin and canthaxanthin.

Figure 3: Color spectrum of major carotenoids in feed industry

Many yellow-tone carotenoids exist, such as Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Beta-carotene to name but a few. When it comes the red tone, especially for aquaculture, farmers do not have the luxury of choice. Canthaxanthin and Astaxanthin are the two red pigments commercially available. Other options are very limited in supply. So, like the flip of a coin, which one do you pick? We are (of course) biased to say our beloved Astaxanthin! But it’s more complicated than that so bear with us.

Although Astaxanthin and Canthaxanthin are available in natural (extracted and biosynthesized), the majority of ready supply is from synthetic sources. We’re not playing favorites when we say ‘Consumers crave real ingredients from nature’, which natural ingredients can deliver alongside better biocompatibility. After all, natural is from Mother Nature – plants and animals – whereas synthetic ingredients come from petroleum. In terms of efficacy, it is without a doubt that Natural ingredients are superior than Synthetic. Natural Astaxanthin has been proven to hold the pigmentation for longer periods of time in salmon. And what’s more, to achieve the same pigmentation, a lower dosage of natural Astaxanthin is needed.

So why doesn’t the whole world already use natural Astaxanthin you may ask? In reality, Natural Astaxanthin (and particularly Canthaxanthin) come in short supply and at a very high cost – thus relegating them to the less popular option.

But VNF is geared up ready to change this and make Natural Astaxanthin more available  and affordable.


Our Shrimp-based Astaxanthin – branded NaturXanthinTM – has high efficacy due to being a Natural Astaxanthin (not nature-identical). NaturXanthinTM will be available in LARGE SUPPLY and COST-COMPETITIVE!

How is that even possible?

The answers lie in our 3 spearheads:

  1. Economy of scale: As the top shrimp exporter worldwide, Vietnam boasts a high volume of shrimp production and subsequently, shrimp by-products. The abundant supply of shrimp raw material enables the economy of scale, ultimately lowering the production cost.
  2. Optimized unit cost: VNF’s NaturXanthin is extracted alongside other nutrients (such as Peptides and Chitosan). This means the mutual production cost (machinery, raw materials, labor, etc.) is shared with other product lines. Think about it as a group trip versus a solo one. Group trip trumps in terms of expense per person, right?
  3. Minimal left-over nutrients in waste management: Having already recovered major nutrients available in the shrimp co-products (Astaxanthin included), fewer waste goes to the wastewater treatment. That saves us a hefty amount of effort and resources for waste management.
Figure 4: Comparing Astaxanthin total cost under 2 Extraction approaches

Are you googling where to purchase Astaxanthin yet? Hint: We’re in Vietnam.

Tune in to our next chapter as we explore other superpowers of Astaxanthin in the immune and reproduction system!


[1] Hemilä H. (2020). The effect of β-carotene on the mortality of male smokers is modified by smoking and by vitamins C and E: evidence against a uniform effect of nutrient. Journal of nutritional science, 9, e11.

[2] Marketsandmarkets. Feed Pigment Market by Type (Carotenoids, Curcumin, Caramel, Spirulina & Others), Carotenoids Source (Natural & Synthetic), Livestock (Swine, Cattle, Poultry, Aquatic Animals & Others), & by Region – Global Trends & Forecasts to 2020. Feed Pigment Market by Type, Livestock, Region – 2020 | MarketsandMarkets