CANTHAXANTHIN Overview Information
Canthaxanthin is a dye that is similar to the chemical that makes carrots orange. It occurs naturally and can also be made in a laboratory. People use it as medicine.
Canthaxanthin is used to reduce sensitivity to sunlight (photosensitivity) experienced by people who have a rare genetic disease called erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP). In these people, sunlight can cause skin reactions such as rash, itch, and eczema. Canthaxanthin is also used to reduce sun sensitivity caused by certain medications. Some people also try it for relieving itching caused by sun exposure.
Orobronze (canthaxanthin) is sold in Canada as a nonprescription “tanning pill.” In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved tanning pills containing canthaxanthin. Nevertheless, these products seem to be readily available to people in the U.S. through mail order and tanning salons.
In foods, canthaxanthin is used as food coloring and is added to animal feed to improve the color of chicken skins, egg yolks, salmon, and trout.
In manufacturing, canthaxanthin is used in cosmetics and in medications.
How does it work?
Canthaxanthin is a dye similar to the carotenes in vegetables such as carrots. It deposits in the skin to produce an artificial “tan.” It might protect against sun sensitivity through antioxidant activity.
Possibly Effective for:
- Sensitivity to sunlight (photosensitivity) associated with erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP), an inherited disorder. Taking canthaxanthin seems to reduce rash, itching, or eczema in EPP due to sunlight exposure.
- Treating sun sensitivity caused by certain medications.
- Treating itching caused by the sun.
- Causing artificial sun tanning.
- Other conditions.
CANTHAXANTHIN Side Effects & Safety
Canthaxanthin seems to be safe when taken in food amounts. But it appears to be UNSAFE when taken in amounts needed for artificial tanning or as a medicine for treating sun sensitivity. Some people who have taken canthaxanthin for these purposes have experienced eye damage and vision loss.
At high doses, canthaxanthin has caused a serious, potentially fatal blood disorder called aplastic anemia. Canthaxanthin can also cause diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps, dry and itchy skin, hives, orange or red body secretions, and other side effects.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Canthaxanthin is UNSAFE when used at the doses needed to produce a tan or treat sun sensitivity. It can cause eye damage and other harmful effects.
Vitamin A allergy: People who are allergic to vitamin A and related chemicals called carotenoids might also be sensitive to canthaxanthin.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For reducing and treating rash, itch, and/or eczema (symptoms of photosensitivity) in people with erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP) when they are exposed to sunlight: 60 to 90 mg of canthaxanthin daily on average for three to five months per year.