Fire pits, single cell lifeforms, industrial furnaces, pizza ovens, and combustion engines all share one thing in common. These structures create, contain, and control energy. In each example, toxic combustion byproducts are dumped out into the environment using air or water to dilute the toxins to non-lethal levels.
Multicellular life faces a unique challenge. If Cell #1 dumps its toxic byproducts into Cell #2 and vice versa then both cells die.(1)
This article describes how multicellular life evolved to contain and control combustion and related toxic products using a very powerful antioxidant called astaxanthin.
3.8B years ago the atmosphere was rich in methane and carbon dioxide.
Astaxanthin did not exist and neither did multicellular life.
The first single cell lifeforms were bacteria and a bacteria-like cell called archaea.
Some bacteria evolved to use carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight to make and store energy in the form of sugars and starches via photosynthesis. Other bacteria got energy by fermenting these sugars and starches and others evolved to break down a range of other non-organic chemicals.
Archaea are anaerobic, only surviving in low oxygen environments using chemical combustion for energy. Their combustion byproducts include methane, carbon dioxide and Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). (You are carrying around archaea in your gut microbiome to help us with digestion.)
Nothing much else happened until about 2.5B years ago. The expelling of oxygen by photosynthesis flipped the atmosphere from one rich in methane and carbon dioxide to one rich in oxygen. (2)
This flip gave birth of the plant and animal kingdoms that we know today (Eukaryotes).
Archaea needed a place to hide from the oxygen rich environment. Through a process called endosymbiosis they merged into another bacteria, ultimately creating the mitochondria. The mitochondria uses oxygen and sugars to make and store energy by the ADP->ATP process. The combustion byproducts are carbon dioxide and toxic reactive oxygen species (ROS).
The plant kingdom uses photosynthesis to make sugars & starches and uses the mitochondria for cellular respiration. Plants are exposed to ultraviolet light which also creates ROS by photooxidation.
The animal kingdom uses mitochondria for power production getting sugars/starches by eating plants or eating other animals.
So regardless of whether you were a plant or animal, you faced a common enemy, ROS. Unlike other combustion byproducts like oxygen or carbon dioxide, ROS could not be tossed overboard.
To thrive, eukaryotes needed more powerful antioxidants.
Eukaryotes evolved to build an array of increasingly more powerful antioxidants- carotenoids. (3)
1.8B years later evolution created the "perfect" antioxidant, astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin solved several problems. It provided rigidity and strength to the cell and mitochondria wall. It protected the cell from viruses and bacteria. Astaxanthin prevented ROS from attacking the mitochondria and cell DNA. It also protected other metals, minerals and acids from being oxidized by ROS freeing them up for other essential metabolic molecular functions.
Let’s take ascorbic acid (vitamin C) as an example. Vitamin C is a mild antioxidant easily oxidized by ROS. As an antioxidant, astaxanthin is 5000X more powerful. Cells producing astaxanthin suddenly could use vitamin C to make other compounds, most importantly collagen.
Collagen was used to form the first blood vessels that could carry nutrients to cells and remove waste products. For first time in history, cell #1 did not dump its combustion byproducts into Cell #2.
The creation of astaxanthin, then collagen, sparked the Cambrian Explosion (4) creating the multicellular animal and plant lifeforms that we know today.
Once astaxanthin showed up 700M years ago, no other more powerful antioxidant was ever needed or created.
Higher order animals (including humans) evolved to drop the whole carotenoid process entirely.
The average person produces 20 grams of ROS every day. We mitigated ROS using astaxanthin found in wild fish, shellfish, eggs, bugs and game and other lessor carotenoids. Vegans beware- no plants/algae make bioavailable astaxanthin.
Industrialized animal production turned animals into soy and corn fed vegans removing astaxanthin from our diets.
Without astaxanthin, you are burning a chemical fire inside your cells that will eventually consume you.
Scientific research has linked astaxanthin (or its absence) to increased risk of chronic disease, cognitive disorders, vision impairment, diabetes, and various diseases of the heart, liver, pancreas, thyroid, thymus, pineal gland, our immune system and the “disease” of aging. We are compiling extensive literature on these topics and will publish over time. Here are links to astaxanthin & diabetes as well as astaxanthin & cancer.
To contain and control the fire burning in your mitochondria, you need astaxanthin in the right form and in the right place.
Adjuvia™ Astaxanthin uses algae to make the right form and our patented process to get astaxanthin to the right place. You can’t do any better than that.
(3) There are over 1,100 types of carotenoids and two subclasses. Xanthophyll carotenoids (contain oxygen) and carotenes (hydrocarbons only).
The antioxidant activity of a molecule is based upon its conjugated chain length. The more double-bonds the better, as these double bonds contain electrons that are easily donated. For example, the ROS hydrogen peroxide (H202) can be converted into 2 H2O and 2 O2.
Astaxanthin has 13 conjugated double-bonds whereas β-carotene (vitamin A) only has 11, making astaxanthin five times more powerful as an antioxidant.