Overview

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 and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

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.

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