161e Violaxanthin

Posted 25 Oct 2023
161e Violaxanthin

What is violaxanthin, and where is it used?

Violaxanthin, also known as E161e, is a natural carotenoid pigment derived from a variety of plant sources such as corn, oranges, mangoes, and green leafy vegetables [1]. This yellow-orange coloured compound is widely used as a food additive in the food industry to enhance the visual appeal and colour of numerous products. It finds applications in beverages, confectionery, and processed foods. The unique chemical structure of violaxanthin contributes to its stability and resistance to degradation during processing and storage, making it a good choice among food manufacturers seeking visually appealing products.

Purported Health Benefits

  • Eye Health Support: Violoxanthin has been suggested to promote eye health due to its presence in the macula, a part of the retina [2-3]. It may help protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and maintain optimal visual function.

  • Antioxidant Properties: Violoxanthin exhibits potent antioxidant activity, aiding in the neutralisation of harmful free radicals in the body [4]. Its unique chemical structure allows it to effectively scavenge free radicals and protect cells from oxidative stress.

  • Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Violoxanthin possesses anti-inflammatory properties, potentially helping to reduce inflammation in the body [4]. By inhibiting the production of pro-inflammatory molecules, it may benefit individuals with chronic inflammatory conditions.

  • Immune System Support: Violoxanthin's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may support immune system function [4]. By reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, it helps maintain a balanced immune response.

  • Skin Health Promotion: Violoxanthin contributes to maintaining healthy skin [5]. As an antioxidant, it helps combat oxidative damage caused by environmental stressors. Its unique properties make it beneficial for maintaining skin integrity and promoting a youthful appearance.

  • Cardiovascular Support: Preliminary studies suggest that violaxanthin may have cardiovascular benefits. It may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by preventing oxidative damage and inflammation within blood vessels [6].

Recommendations for Safe Consumption

The consumption of violaxanthin as a food additive is considered safe for the general public when used within recommended limits. It shares similar safety profiles with other carotenoid additives. Adhering to guidelines and practising moderation in consumption is key. 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. 


  1. González-Peña MA, Ortega-Regules AE, Anaya de Parrodi C, Lozada-Ramírez JD. Chemistry, Occurrence, Properties, Applications, and Encapsulation of Carotenoids—A Review. Plants. 2023 Jan 9;12(2):313.

  2. Agarwal R, Trieu HH, Cave R, Harper S, O’Hare T. Orange Capsicums and Chillies as a Potential Source of Dietary Zeaxanthin, an Important Macular Carotenoid for Eye Health. Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute Proceedings. 2020;36(1):161.

  3. Pozzobon V, Camarena-Bernard C. Lutein, violaxanthin, and zeaxanthin spectrophotometric quantification: a machine learning approach.

  4. Soontornchaiboon W, Joo SS, Kim SM. Anti-inflammatory effects of violaxanthin isolated from microalga Chlorella ellipsoidea in RAW 264.7 macrophages. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 2012 Jul 1;35(7):1137-44.

  5. Kim HM, Jung JH, Kim JY, Heo J, Cho DH, Kim HS, An S, An IS, Bae S. The protective effect of violaxanthin from Nannochloropsis oceanica against ultraviolet B‐induced damage in normal human dermal fibroblasts. Photochemistry and Photobiology. 2019 Mar;95(2):595-604.

  6. Biehler E, Alkerwi AA, Hoffmann L, Krause E, Guillaume M, Lair ML, Bohn T. Contribution of violaxanthin, neoxanthin, phytoene and phytofluene to total carotenoid intake: Assessment in Luxembourg. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. 2012 Feb 1;25(1):56-65.

  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.