Examining Astaxanthin

The carotenoid astaxanthin offers potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions that can protect and benefit several areas of health, including the eyes, brain, cardiovascular system, joints and skin.

Steve Myers, Senior Editor

July 17, 2015

1 Min Read

Astaxanthin hails from the family of carotenoids, a group of fat-soluble pigments originating from plants. Despite its botanical roots, astaxanthin is most commonly known in nature for presenting its pink-to-red hues in sea animals including fish (salmon) and crustaceans (e.g., shrimp, crab, lobster and krill).

Early commercial use of astaxanthin was as a colorant for human food and animal feed. In the 1980s, Hoffman La Roche petitioned for and won approval from FDA for use of astaxanthin as a pigment in salmon feed. However, FDA has never approved astaxanthin for use as a colorant in human food, although several specific brands of astaxanthin ingredients are GRAS (generally recognized as safe) for use in food for dietary reasons. Several brands have also submitted new dietary ingredient (NDI) notifications to FDA for use in dietary supplements and received no objection from the agency. However, in its response letter to one NDI filing, FDA advised the company needed to continue to avoid designating or implying astaxanthin is used as a colorant, as it would then be subject to regulatory scrutiny and possible action.

In Europe, regulatory authorities consider astaxanthin a food dye, and some brands have gained novel food ingredient (NFI) approval for use in certain foods and beverages at specific daily consumption levels.

Among its botanical responsibilities is protecting the host organism from photo-oxidative stress. This action is the focus of its production and use as a dietary ingredient for humans.

To further explore this beneficial carotenoid, read the full article, “The Science and Technology of Astaxanthin," in INSIDER’s latest Digital Pulse.

About the Author(s)

Steve Myers

Senior Editor

Steve Myers is a graduate of the English program at Arizona State University. He first entered the natural products industry and Virgo Publishing in 1997, right out of college, but escaped the searing Arizona heat by relocating to the East Coast. He left Informa Markets in 2022, after a formidable career focused on financial, regulatory and quality control issues, in addition to writing stories ranging research results to manufacturing. In his final years with the company, he spearheaded the editorial direction of Natural Products Insider.

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