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The Algalif Blog

The Killer in the Air – Free radicals

By News, The Algalif Blog

When a car rusts, an apple rots, or skin wrinkles, it is always due to “free radicals”. Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that attack the body’s 100 trillion cells every day, triggering a destructive chain reaction that can manifest itself in a wide variety of diseases. However, we can protect ourselves from this with certain radical scavengers called “antioxidants”. One such radical scavenger, Astaxanthin, a highly potent carotenoid, is one of the strongest antioxidants. This substance can protect the body´s cells from the attacks of free radicals.

Natural astaxanthin is the strongest antioxidant

You cannot see them, cannot hear them, cannot smell them, and cannot feel them. But they are there! The Killer in the Air. Their name: “Free radicals”. This is simply oxygen molecules.

Oxygen is vital to us humans. But how can a vital element be capable of such destruction? On one hand, oxygen sustains, promotes, and fuels life – on the other hand, it causes stress and damage to our proteins and even DNA, impairing our health and well-being in multiple ways. The reason: Not all oxygen molecules are made equal.

Negative influence of oxygen molecules

The majority of respirated oxygen is stable and indispensable for life. But there are also unstable oxygen molecules, including the free radicals. Radical and non-radical oxygen molecules differ in their molecular structure. Radical oxygen species have an unpaired – unstable – electron, and this excess of energy can only be stabilized by stealing electrons from other nearby molecules, such as our proteins or DNA. This is how free radicals can quickly develop into killer substances. The radical oxygen molecules can influence our organism very negatively.

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Why does environmental impact play a role for microalgae-derived astaxanthin production?

By The Algalif Blog

Although microalgae certainly represent a novel, promising source of several bioactive compounds such as astaxanthin, fucoxanthin, EPA/DHA, and phycocyanin, less attention has been paid to the difference between potential cultivation techniques and their associated environmental and sustainability footprint. Here, location, water availability and quality, cultivation technique, energy source, energy requirements, volumetric productivity, downstream approach, and carbon footprint are key factors in the overall sustainability profile of a given approach. Let’s take a closer look at two of those factors: location and water source.

 

Location

Location in this context can refer to both geographical location, but also the distinction between cultivation that takes place outdoors and cultivation that takes place indoors. In both cases though, access to a sustainable, stable, and renewable energy source is of critical importance.

 

Outdoor operations are usually located in warm, sunny climates and have the general sustainability advantage of using natural sunlight to drive the photosynthesis and thereby requiring less energy overall. The disadvantages include increased contamination risk and bioburden, low productivity, limited light utilization and a stronger need for external temperature adjustments – all of which can increase the environmental footprint substantially.

 

Indoor operations are usually more energy intensive as the process is often driven by artificial high-energy lighting. The advantages however include full parameter control (temperature, pH etc.), enhanced productivity (partly due to being able to cultivate both day and night), lower contamination risk and lower energy requirements for temperature adjustment. Locations with stable, low-temperature climates, low bioburden and access to renewable energy are therefore best suited for indoor microalgae cultivation.

 

Water availability & quality

Water is the single most important ingredient in microalgae cultivation. Microalgae cultures are predominantly made up of water (biomass density rarely exceeds 10 g/L and is often around 1-4 g/L), so it goes without saying that water availability and quality are critical factors. Sustainability and environmental considerations are tightly linked to the water source in many ways;

  • Sustainable, steady water access is of primary importance and water usage must not be at the expense of other industries or general usage.
  • Chemical pre-treatment of the water is needed in locations with poor water quality, and this has a negative impact on the overall sustainability and environmental profile.
  • The suitability of the local water profile needs to be aligned with the intended culture medium to be used and the microalgae species in question. If the profile is not suitable, adjustments need to be made and these can have negative environmental impacts.
  • Controlling water use by ensuring that evaporation rates are minimized is a sustainable step to take. Evaporation rates in open pond, outdoor systems can exceed 20% per day but in closed, indoor systems the evaporation rates can be maintained well below 1%

 

Overall, this discussion demonstrates that although microalgae cultivation for the production of bioactive compounds is an inherently environmentally friendly process, many details have to be taken into consideration to assess the overall sustainability profile and to compare products produced by different cultivation techniques and in different locations.

An Algalif Blog by Dr. Tryggvi Stefansson, CChief Operating Officer of Algalif

tryggvi@algalif.com

The benefits of astaxanthin for humans will be explored in future blogs – keep up to date by following us at www.algalif.com.

 

 

The importance of high productivity

By The Algalif Blog

Haematococcus pluvialis is a microalgae that has relatively mild optimal growth conditions. The optimal temperature is very close to room temperature, the optimal pH is almost neutral, and as a freshwater microalgae, the medium has almost no salinity.

In general, the neutraceutical market for astaxanthin does not tolerate the use of pesticides, antibiotics, or genetic modifications to H. Pluvialis. If we also take into account that H. pluvialis grows relatively slowly compared to many eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms that thrive under the same cultivation conditions – it becomes clear that the cultivation of H. pluvialis for astaxanthin production is quite challenging.

 

Challenges of contamination

Everyone who has cultivated microalgae in photobioreactors under mild conditions knows that contamination of H. pluvialis cultures by other undesirable algae species is among the most significant issues of the process. Once a contaminant has gained ground in a photobioreactor, it is very hard to get completely rid of the contaminant – even when various methods to clean the system are combined!

So what is the best way to deal with the challenge of contamination? Algalíf has identified that the key factor to maintaining high culture quality and staying away from contamination issues is: Productivity!

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Radiant skin with astaxanthin

By The Algalif Blog

In the ever-evolving world of skincare, one ingredient has emerged as a game-changer, promising radiant and healthy skin without the compromise of toxic chemicals. Astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant derived from microalgae, has taken center stage in the beauty industry.

Astaxanthin can protect the skin from harmful UV rays which cause sunburn and speed up healing after sun damage. It also improves the overall condition and appearance of the skin. According to scientific studies, the best result is achieved by combining internal use with external application.

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Summary of the ongoing seismic activities in Iceland.

By News, The Algalif Blog

The ongoing volcanic eruption, that started on December 18th, and seismic activity near the town of Grindavik in the Reykjanes peninsula, do not affect the production capabilities or product delivery abilities of Algalif Iceland. All Algalif employees are safe and there is no danger to any Algalif facilities.

Algalif is located in a safe area next to the Keflavik International Airport about 25 km from the active area. Both the airport and all other businesses in the area are safe and open.

The geology of Iceland.

Iceland is a volcanic island and very young in a geological context. The island of Iceland is the result of slow lava buildup for the past 20 million years. It is located on the Mid-Atlantic ridge where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. The plates move away from each other by a few centimeters every year. That means that earthquakes are quite common and there are volcanic eruptions on average every five years for as long as there is historical data.

Picture from Wikipedia.

Picture from Wikipedia.

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The Colorful World of Carotenoids

By The Algalif Blog

It’s all about carotenoids.

With more than 1,000 types of carotenoids described, it is safe to say they have a wide variety of functions. But what makes them similar among each other is their chemical structure, which consists of a long chain of conjugated double bonds and a series of isoprene units, giving them their characteristic color and properties. In addition, carotenoids may contain functional groups such as hydroxyl, keto, or epoxy groups, which can modify their properties and biological activity, dividing them into two groups: xanthophylls (oxygen present in the structure), and carotenes (no oxygen is present in the structure). 

The general structure of a carotenoid 

 

Traveling through the food chain 

Animals are not able to produce carotenoids by themselves, but they are able to modify the ones ingested through the diet in order to obtain useful substances; for example, most animals are able to synthesize vitamin A from carotenoids like β-carotene, α-carotene and β-cryptoxanthin. As mentioned before, in the case of flamingos, they feed on brine shrimp, which turns red as they graze upon microalgae, as a result, they get their characteristic pink color.  

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Immunity for Life

By The Algalif Blog

Immune health is important for everybody, independent of lifestyle, age, or profession. Our immune systems face tremendous everyday challenges as a result of the fast-paced lifestyle of today. A strong immune system is becoming more and more important to consumers. The top 5 health concerns of supplement users in the US, according to the Council for Responsible Nutrition Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements (2013/2014), regularly include immune health.

Nutramunity™ Beta-Glucan (NBG®) is a versatile ingredient for functional food, beverages, nutraceuticals, and sports nutrition products that support healthy immune function.

We are the Experts

Nutramunity™ Beta-Glucan from Algalif comes with a 25-year heritage of unsurpassed yeast beta-glucan discovery and development. No other manufacturer has a stronger track record of scientific development, manufacturing expertise, and understanding of beta-1,3/1,6-glucan from baker’s yeast. This knowledge and capability are key throughout the manufacturing process to ensure that the molecular structure of the beta-glucan remains intact for it to deliver its full effect and the purity of the ingredient is delivered to a consistently high standard.

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From Bloodletting to Biotech: A Brief History of GMPs in Medicine

By The Algalif Blog

We at Algalíf Iceland ehf. are a biotechnology company that specializes in the production of natural astaxanthin from the algae Hematococcus pluvialis.  We pride ourselves on providing reliable service and high-quality products to our customers through a sustainable business plan.

But what does quality look like at Algalíf? We chose to comply with GMPs, „Good Manufacturing Practices“, as this system is a key factor in medicinal quality around the world. To understand why this GMP quality system is so impactful, we have to know a bit about how it all started.

Before and well into the 1800s, the medical field was based more in superstition than in science. The Dark Ages lived on in ideas like sin-induced illness, miasma, and bodily humors. Seeking medical attention often resulted in harmful treatments such as purging- the use of mineral toxins to induce vomiting- and the failure rates of these „curative measures“ were staggering; many died as a result of their medical treatment. Read More

Astaxanthin – the origin of nature‘s most potent antioxidant

By The Algalif Blog

Natural astaxanthin is known as a chemical compound that has several health benefits for humans; including reducing inflammation, accelerating muscle recovery, and enhancing joint, skin, and eye health. But what is the origin of this nature‘s most potent antioxidant – and what role does it play in nature?

Astaxanthin helps to outperform

Even though we might recognize astaxanthin as the pigment that provides flamingos, lobster, and salmon meat with their distinctive colors, the primary producers of the compound are simple multicellular microorganisms. When taking a step further to understand why this magical pigment is produced by these simple organisms, we must keep the forces of evolutionary biology in mind. For instance, Haematococcus pluvialis, the freshwater microalgae species used at Algalíf, produces astaxanthin in high concentrations to outperform other organisms that thrive in similar conditions. Astaxanthin production aids the algae in competition for light, nutrients, and other essential resources. In other words, astaxanthin has played a role in the success of Haematococcus pluvialis in the brutal process that we generally refer to as natural selection.
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