What is rubixanthin, and where is it used?
Rubixanthin, commonly known as E161d, is a natural carotenoid pigment used as a food additive. It belongs to the carotenoid family, which includes other well-known compounds like beta-carotene and lycopene . Rubixanthin is sourced from red algae and is known for its vibrant red colour. It is commonly used in the food industry to enhance the visual appeal and colour of various products, including beverages, confectionery, and processed foods.
What sets rubixanthin apart from other carotenoids is its unique shade of red, which adds a distinct visual appeal to food and beverages . This makes it particularly desirable for manufacturers seeking to create visually appealing products that stand out on store shelves. Rubixanthin's stability and resistance to degradation during processing and storage further contribute to its popularity as a food colouring agent.
Purported Health Benefits
Antioxidant Properties: Rubixanthin exhibits strong antioxidant activity, helping to neutralise harmful free radicals in the body and to protect cells from oxidative stress .
Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Rubixanthin has been suggested to possess anti-inflammatory properties but the evidence is inconclusive [4-5]. It may help reduce inflammation by inhibiting the production of pro-inflammatory molecules in the body, potentially benefiting individuals with chronic inflammatory conditions.
Immune System Support: Rubixanthin's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may support immune system function [3-6]. By reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, it helps maintain a balanced immune response, potentially aiding in the prevention of certain diseases.
Eye Health Support: Rubixanthin has been linked to promoting eye health, particularly in relation to macular degeneration [7-8]. Its presence in the macula, a part of the retina, suggests a potential role in protecting against age-related vision loss and maintaining optimal visual function.
Skin Health Promotion: Rubixanthin may contribute to maintaining healthy skin [9-10]. As a potent antioxidant, it helps combat oxidative damage caused by environmental stressors, which can contribute to premature ageing and skin damage. Rubixanthin's unique properties make it beneficial for maintaining skin integrity and promoting a youthful appearance.
Recommendations for Safe Consumption
The consumption of rubixanthin as a food additive is generally safe within recommended limits. There are no significant risks associated with rubixanthin when used as intended, although those with allergies or sensitivities should exercise caution. Cooking methods like steaming or roasting break down the plant's cell walls, improving the absorption of cryptoxanthin, similar to carotene . Steaming retains nutrient content, while roasting adds flavour without significant nutrient loss. Avoid overcooking or high temperatures that degrade cryptoxanthin. Pairing cryptoxanthin-rich foods with a source of fat aids absorption, as cryptoxanthin is fat-soluble . Adding olive oil to vegetables or including healthy fats like avocado enhances cryptoxanthin absorption. Incorporating a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables in your diet provides natural sources of rubixanthin and other carotenoids, reducing reliance on additives.
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We do our best to source robust information from a number of credible sources. There is, however, a large amount of information on various aspects of nutritional elements along with claims in terms of their contribution to helping in body health which may contradict the above.