Discovery of astaxanthin

AstaReal’s parent company Fuji Chemical Industries is a pharmaceutical manufacturing and sales company founded in 1946. To aid the recovery of post-war Japan, Fuji Chemical Industries engaged in numerous ventures all with the goal of “providing products beneficial to human health.” This eventually led to the creation of their first major product, the antacid “Neusilin” which began development in 1951. At the same time, Fuji Chemical was also searching for new avenues of business that could expand the company even further. For about 10 years on from 1980, Fuji Chemical poured around 10 billion yen into the development of a new pharmaceutical drug aimed at treating stroke. Unfortunately the drug was not approved for use and this research had to be abandoned. However, this setback was the impetus that led us to think beyond pharmaceuticals and turn our eyes towards new potential resources. Until now we had been a pharmaceutical manufacturer, focused on products aimed at “curing” sickness. So what, then, should be our next aim? In our quest to find an answer to that question, we arrived at the concept of “preventing” diseases.
A concept of

A concept of “preventing” disease

But how is the concept of “prevention” made reality? In terms of materials, we began with a focus on natural compounds with strong anti-oxidant properties. This is because they would allow us to constrain the reactive oxygen species (ROS) that is the cause of natural aging processes, and thus “prevent” the various ailments that come with aging. From there we talked to medical and pharmaceutical experts, biologists, and even marine biologists, and began a thorough screening of various natural compounds from different regions, beginning with Japan and China and then branching out. It was 1995 when we first encountered the functional micronutrient called astaxanthin. After a string of substantial failures, it was certainly a gamble, but at the same time it became a major foundation for the future of our business.

A micronutrient that can change the paradigm of health management

A micronutrient that can change the paradigm
of health management

Astaxanthin is a carotenoid, and specifically it is a red organic pigment found in large quantities in crustaceans such as crabs and shrimp, and fish such as salmon and bream. For an easy to understand example, salmon is classified as a white flesh fish, but its flesh is red due to the concentration of astaxanthin in its muscles. Salmon have to expend huge amounts of energy in order to swim against the current and reach their spawning grounds, and this causes them to produce huge amounts of ROS that can damage their muscles. Astaxanthin protects their muscles from that ROS, and when it passes on into their eggs, it protects those eggs from genetic mutation or lipid oxidation due to ultra-violet rays (salmon eggs are laid in shoals and thus are exposed to UV rays in high quantities).

The natural astaxanthin that our company produces is a micronutrient to be consumed as a part of foods or dietary supplements. The damage done to us on a day to day basis by ROS is not localized in any specific part of us, rather it is constantly occurring throughout our entire bodies. Moreover, the mechanisms of the human body are frightfully complex, and it will take time for any supplement or nutrient to be properly absorbed. In principle, we live our lives absorbing nutrition from our food and using it to produce energy. Astaxanthin has been shown to have a high potential for inhibiting oxidation within the body, but for those effects to be properly realized, we believe it needs to become a perpetual part of your daily diet. Simply put it must become one of your daily habits. In an age where many will live to be 100 years old, we believe astaxanthin can be an important part of a paradigm shift in our daily habits, allowing us to “prevent” diseases before we have the need to “cure” them, maintaining our health and allowing us all to age gracefully.

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