161d Rubixanthin

Posted 25 Oct 2023
161d Rubixanthin

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 [1]. 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 [2]. 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 [3].

  • 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 [11]. 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 [12]. 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. 


  1. Gateau H, Solymosi K, Marchand J, Schoefs B. Carotenoids of microalgae used in food industry and medicine. Mini reviews in medicinal chemistry. 2017 Sep 1;17(13):1140-72.

  2. Rymbai H, Sharma RR, Srivastav M. Bio-colorants and its implications in health and food industry–a review. International Journal of Pharmacological Research. 2011 Oct;3(4):2228-44.

  3. Ghendov-Mosanu A, Cristea E, Patras A, Sturza R, Niculaua M. Rose hips, a valuable source of antioxidants to improve gingerbread characteristics. Molecules. 2020 Dec 1;25(23):5659.

  4. Fan C, Pacier C, Martirosyan DM. Rose hip (Rosa canina L): A functional food perspective. Functional Foods in Health and Disease. 2014 Dec 24;4(12):493-509.

  5. Skrajda-Brdak M, Dąbrowski G, Konopka I. Edible flowers, a source of valuable phytonutrients and their pro-healthy effects–A review. Trends in Food Science & Technology. 2020 Sep 1;103:179-99.

  6. Robert P, Carlsson RM, Romero N, Masson L. Stability of spray‐dried encapsulated carotenoid pigments from rosa mosqueta (Rosa rubiginosa) oleoresin. Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society. 2003 Nov;80(11):1115-20.

  7. Britton G, Khachik F. Carotenoids in food. InCarotenoids: Volume 5: Nutrition and Health 2009 Dec 29 (pp. 45-66). Basel: Birkhäuser Basel.

  8. Giardi MT, Touloupakis E, Bertolotto D, Mascetti G. Preventive or potential therapeutic value of nutraceuticals against ionizing radiation-induced oxidative stress in exposed subjects and frequent fliers. International journal of molecular sciences. 2013 Aug 20;14(8):17168-92.

  9. Anushree RK, Veena UK. An overview of functional potential of rose hips.

  10. Mármol I, Sánchez-de-Diego C, Jiménez-Moreno N, Ancín-Azpilicueta C, Rodríguez-Yoldi MJ. Therapeutic applications of rose hips from different Rosa species. International journal of molecular sciences. 2017 Jun;18(6):1137.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.