The key difference between canthaxanthin and astaxanthin is that canthaxanthin is violet colored pigment whereas astaxanthin is a blood-red color pigment.
Canthaxanthin and astaxanthin are colored pigments that we can find naturally in some organisms, such as yeast and algae. Organisms who consume these sources also reflect these colors in their skin.
What is Canthaxanthin?
Canthaxanthin is a naturally occurring pigment that belongs to keto-carotenoid group. It is widely distributed in nature. Carotenoids come under a large group of phytochemicals named terpenoids. This pigment was isolated from edible mushrooms for the first time. We can also find this pigment in many other sources, including green algae, bacteria, crustaceans, and bioaccumulates in fish.
The chemical formula of canthaxanthin is C40H52O2. The molar mass of this substance is 564.8 g/mol. When isolated, it appears as violet colored crystals. Moreover, this pigment can be used as a food additive under the E number E 161g, and it is a coloring agent. Manufacturers can add this food coloring to trout feed, salmon, and poultry feed.
We can name canthaxanthin as a potent lipid-soluble antioxidant. It has a considerable biological function in animal tissues. These functions include free radical scavenging and vitamin E sparing. Moreover, when we ingest this pigment on purpose for the stimulation of a tan color, it can deposit in the panniculus to impart a golden orange hue to the skin.
What is Astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin is a keto-carotenoid of the group of terpenes (a tetraterpenoid). This is a xanthophyll pigment. It is a metabolite of zeaxanthin and canthaxanthin, which contain both hydroxyl and ketone functional groups. Similar to many other carotenoids, this is also a lipid-soluble pigment having a red-orange color due to its extended chain of conjugated double bonds at the center of the chemical compound. This chain of conjugated double bonds in this compound is responsible for the antioxidant function because it can act as a region of decentralized electrons, which are able to be donated to reduce a reductive oxidizing molecule.
Astaxanthin has the chemical formula C40H52O4. The molar mass of this compound is 596.8 g/mol. It appears as a red solid powder. Naturally, this pigment is produced in the freshwater microalgae species and in yeast fungus species. This production occurs when the algae are stressed by the lack of nutrients, increased salinity, or excessive sunshine. Moreover, the animals who consume this alga reflects the red-orange color in their skin.
What are the Similarities Between Canthaxanthin and Astaxanthin?
- Canthaxanthin and Astaxanthin are colored pigments.
- Both are lipid-soluble compounds.
- These pigments occur naturally.
What is the Difference Between Canthaxanthin and Astaxanthin?
Canthaxanthin and astaxanthin are color pigments. Canthaxanthin is a naturally occurring pigment that belongs to the keto-carotenoid group, whereas Astaxanthin is a keto-carotenoid of the group of terpenes (a tetraterpenoid). The key difference between canthaxanthin and astaxanthin is that canthaxanthin is violet colored pigment, whereas astaxanthin is a blood-red color pigment.
The following infographic lists the differences between canthaxanthin and astaxanthin in tabular form for side by side comparison.
Summary – Canthaxanthin vs Astaxanthin
Canthaxanthin and astaxanthin are colored pigments that we can find naturally in some animals, such as yeast, algae, etc. The animals who consume these sources also reflect these colors in their skin. The key difference between canthaxanthin and astaxanthin is that canthaxanthin is violet colored pigment, whereas astaxanthin is a blood-red color pigment.
1.“Canthaxanthin.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database, U.S. National Library of Medicine.