161c Cryptoxanthin

Posted 21 Oct 2023
161c Cryptoxanthin

What is cryptoxanthin, and where is it used?

Cryptoxanthin, also known as E161c, is a carotenoid pigment that belongs to the xanthophyll subclass [1-2]. Unlike other carotenoids, such as beta-carotene or lutein, cryptoxanthin is not as widely recognised. It is naturally found in certain fruits and vegetables, particularly in orange-coloured varieties. Cryptoxanthin is commonly found in high concentrations in foods like oranges, tangerines, papayas, and peaches. It contributes to their vibrant orange colour and provides various health benefits. 

Purported Health Benefits

  • Eye Health: While lutein is often associated with eye health, cryptoxanthin also plays a role in supporting vision [2]. It helps protect the eyes from oxidative stress and may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.

  • Skin Health: Cryptoxanthin possesses antioxidant properties that contribute to its positive effects on skin health [2]. By neutralising harmful free radicals, it helps protect the skin from oxidative damage, promoting a healthy and youthful appearance.

  • Joint Health: Cryptoxanthin has been linked to potential anti-inflammatory properties, which can benefit joint health [2-4]. Its ability to reduce inflammation may help alleviate symptoms associated with conditions like arthritis.

  • Immune Function: One of the unique properties of cryptoxanthin is its ability to support immune function [2, 5]. As an antioxidant, it helps strengthen the immune system, defending the body against pathogens and reducing the risk of infections.

  • Respiratory Health: Emerging research suggests that cryptoxanthin may have positive effects on respiratory health [2]. It has been linked to a potential reduction in the risk of respiratory conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by reducing airway inflammation.

  • Antioxidant Protection: Cryptoxanthin acts as a powerful antioxidant, helping to neutralise free radicals and protect cells from oxidative damage [6]. This antioxidant activity contributes to its overall health benefits and reduces the risk of chronic diseases.

Recommendations for Safe Consumption

The naturally occurring levels of cryptoxanthin found in foods are considered safe for consumption. As with any food or dietary component, it is important to maintain a balanced diet and avoid excessive consumption. However, the practical significance of monitoring cryptoxanthin intake solely as a food additive is minimal for the average person. While there isn't a specific and an official recommended daily intake for cryptoxanthin, incorporating cryptoxanthin-rich foods into your diet can be a beneficial approach.

Including cryptoxanthin-rich foods in your daily meals can be an enjoyable and practical way to obtain this carotenoid. For example, you can start your day with a refreshing glass of orange juice, snack on sliced peaches throughout the day, and incorporate papaya into a tropical fruit salad for dessert. By incorporating these fruits into your diet, you can naturally consume cryptoxanthin without the need for food additives or supplements. Cooking methods like steaming or roasting break down the plant's cell walls, improving the absorption of cryptoxanthin, similar to carotene [7]. 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 [8]. Adding olive oil to vegetables or including healthy fats like avocado enhances cryptoxanthin absorption. 

Remember to maintain a balanced and diverse diet. Instead of solely focusing on cryptoxanthin, aim to include a variety of fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious foods in your daily meals. By doing so, you can provide your body with a range of essential nutrients, including cryptoxanthin, to support overall health and well-being.


  1. Breithaupt DE, Bamedi A. Carotenoid esters in vegetables and fruits: a screening with emphasis on β-cryptoxanthin esters. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2001 Apr 16;49(4):2064-70.

  2. Burri BJ, La Frano MR, Zhu C. Absorption, metabolism, and functions of β-cryptoxanthin. Nutrition reviews. 2016 Feb 1;74(2):69-82.

  3. Jiao Y, Reuss L, Wang Y. β-Cryptoxanthin: Chemistry, occurrence, and potential health benefits. Current Pharmacology Reports. 2019 Feb 15;5:20-34.

  4. Yamaguchi M. Role of carotenoid β-cryptoxanthin in bone homeostasis. Journal of Biomedical Science. 2012 Dec;19(1):1-3.

  5. Nishi K, Muranaka A, Nishimoto S, Kadota A, Sugahara T. Immunostimulatory effect of β-cryptoxanthin in vitro and in vivo. Journal of Functional Foods. 2012 Jul 1;4(3):618-25.

  6. Lorenzo Y, Azqueta A, Luna L, Bonilla F, Domínguez G, Collins AR. The carotenoid β-cryptoxanthin stimulates the repair of DNA oxidation damage in addition to acting as an antioxidant in human cells. Carcinogenesis. 2009 Feb 1;30(2):308-14.

  7. Lee S, Choi Y, Jeong HS, Lee J, Sung J. Effect of different cooking methods on the content of vitamins and true retention in selected vegetables. Food science and biotechnology. 2018 Apr;27:333-42.

  8. Brown MJ, Ferruzzi MG, Nguyen ML, Cooper DA, Eldridge AL, Schwartz SJ, White WS. Carotenoid bioavailability is higher from salads ingested with full-fat than with fat-reduced salad dressings as measured with electrochemical detection. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2004 Aug 1;80(2):396-403.


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.