Can Astaxanthin Vitamin D3 Treat Autoimmune Diseases

A combination of astaxanthin and vitamin D3 could play a huge role in the treatment of autoimmune diseases in the US, according to many studies. Here are some of the discoveries we’ve learned about the role of astaxanthin and Vitamin D3 in the immune system.

Coronary heart disease is one of the most common conditions in the world, and it is the leading cause of death–killing about 7.2 million people worldwide every year1. It is also the main cause of heart failure and many other heart complications.

Studies have shown Calanus Oil to be very beneficial in preventing coronary heart disease and promoting heart health in general. This is largely due to the fact that it contains high amounts of omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (Omega 3 fatty acids).

However, in order to properly understand the mechanisms by which Calanus Oil prevents coronary heart disease, we must first understand the condition, how it develops and its complications.

What is Coronary Heart Disease?

The immune system’s job is to detect and attack foreign substances and infected cells in the body. Sometimes–for many varied reasons–the immune system overreacts and attacks its own healthy cells and tissues. This is basically what happens when you have an autoimmune disease. There are about a hundred different kinds of autoimmune conditions, each affecting different parts and organs of the body. Autoimmune conditions are very common and affect an estimated 5% of people worldwide1, a percentage which is steadily rising, especially in the US2.

There are various substances that the medical community is exploring for the potential to treat autoimmune diseases. Astaxanthin and vitamin D3 are two of them.

What is Astaxanthin?

Astaxanthin is a carotenoid that’s found that’s found in fungi, seafood, algae, and certain plants. Carotenoids are natural pigments and astaxanthin is what gives salmon, shrimp and lobsters their pink-reddish color. Astaxanthin is an antioxidant, meaning it has the ability to protect cells from damage. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. Its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are the reasons why it is being investigated for medical benefits it may hold for cancer, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular disease, chronic inflammatory diseases and neurodegenerative diseases.

The Role of Astaxanthin in the Immune System

Astaxanthin helps to regulate and enhance the immune system response3 by boosting the activity of natural killer (NK) cells–an important component of the immune system responsible for killing infected cells. It also improves the production of antibodies–proteins that detect and deactivate foreign substances in the body.

A few studies using astaxanthin to treat autoimmune conditions have been conducted, with tentative positive results.

In one, a product containing astaxanthin (and other components like lutein, vitamin A, vitamin E, and safflower oil) was given to patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for 8 weeks. At the end of the trial, those patients who had taken the product reported significant reductions in their pain levels. There was also significant increase in their ability to perform daily tasks made difficult by their condition4. The study concluded that the product “or products containing astaxanthin may be an important addition to RA treatment allowing patients to have less pain and more satisfaction with their ability to perform their usual activities. Further study with larger study groups is needed.”

In another study, astaxanthin protective effects on autoimmune hepatitis were investigated. In it, mice were given astaxanthin orally for a couple of weeks, then they were induced with autoimmune hepatitis. The study found that astaxanthin reduced the liver injury caused by the induced autoimmune hepatitis, and it concluded that astaxanthin holds potential to be a viable treatment option for autoimmune hepatitis5.

What is Vitamin D3?

Vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol, is the form of vitamin D your body makes when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D3 can also be obtained from food and supplements.

The Role of Vitamin D3 in the Immune System

While It’s common knowledge that Vitamin D3 is crucial for bone health, a lesser known fact, however, is that it plays important roles in the immune system. More specifically, it helps to modulate some of the immune activities that malfunction when a person has an autoimmune condition. For example, it helps to regulate the pro–and anti-inflammatory activities of macrophages–white blood cells whose job it is to detect and destroy harmful organisms in the body.

Many studies have proven that there is a correlation between the occurrence and seriousness of autoimmune diseases and vitamin D deficiency. Some showed that there was an up to 30% decrease in the likelihood of children developing autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes if they were given vitamin d3 supplements during early childhood6,7. Another study found that the prevalence of multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune condition, increases as latitude increases8. Which basically means that the less sunlight exposure there is, the more common multiple sclerosis is.

When it comes to treating autoimmune conditions, many small studies have been conducted using vitamin D3 as therapy. Clinical trials on multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have all produced positive and promising results9. However, more research is being conducted to confirm these findings.

While there is still a lot to analyse and confirm with clinical trials and studies, there’s no doubt that astaxanthin and vitamin D3 will play a huge part in the treatment of autoimmune diseases in the near future.


  1. Tollesfsbol T. Epigenetics In Human Disease. London: Academic Press; 2012:Chapter 12.
  2. Lerner A, Jeremias P, Matthias T. The World Incidence and Prevalence of Autoimmune Diseases is Increasing. International Journal of Celiac Disease. 2016;3(4):151-155. doi:10.12691/ijcd-3-4-8
  3. Park J, Chyun J, Kim Y, Line L, Chew B. Astaxanthin decreased oxidative stress and inflammation and enhanced immune response in humans. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2010;7(1):18. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-7-18
  4. Nir Y, A. Spiller G. BioAstin helps relieve pain and improves performance in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. 2019. https://www.cyanotech.com/pdfs/bioastin/batl30.pdf
  5. Li J, Xia Y, Liu T et al. Protective Effects of Astaxanthin on ConA-Induced Autoimmune Hepatitis by the JNK/p-JNK Pathway-Mediated Inhibition of Autophagy and Apoptosis. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(3):e0120440. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0120440
  6. Zipitis CS, Akobeng AK. Vitamin D supplementation in early childhood and risk of type 1 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Arch Dis Child (2008) 93(6):512–7.10.1136/adc.2007.128579
  7. Dong JY, Zhang WG, Chen JJ, Zhang ZL, Han SF, Qin LQ. Vitamin D intake and risk of type 1 diabetes: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Nutrients (2013) 5(9):3551–62.10.3390/nu5093551
  8. Simpson S, Blizzard L, Otahal P, Van der Mei I, Taylor B. Latitude is significantly associated with the prevalence of multiple sclerosis: a meta-analysis. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. 2011;82(10):1132-1141. doi:10.1136/jnnp.2011.240432
  9. Dankers W, Colin E, van Hamburg J, Lubberts E. Vitamin D in Autoimmunity: Molecular Mechanisms and Therapeutic Potential. Front Immunol. 2017;7. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2016.00697

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