as·​ta·​xan·​thin ˌa-stə-ˈzan(t)-thən How to pronounce astaxanthin (audio)
: a carotenoid pigment C40H52O4 found in red- or pink-colored aquatic organisms (such as shrimp, lobster, and salmon) and the feathers of some birds that is used especially as a food coloring and dietary supplement
Wild salmon attain their color by absorbing a carotenoid called astaxanthin from their krill-based diet, while farmed salmon eat fish feed supplemented with various sources of astaxanthin to enhance their grayish color.Cook's Illustrated
Astaxanthin is found in many marine animals, like shrimp and fish, and is also responsible for the pink color of flamingos that feed on crustaceans rich in the pigment.C. Claiborne Ray

Examples of astaxanthin in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Unlike fish oil, krill oil gets its red color from the antioxidant astaxanthin, which supports eye health and has anti-inflammatory properties. Stephanie Brown, Verywell Health, 5 Mar. 2024 Other powerhouse ingredients like purslane, astaxanthin, coenzyme Q10, glutathione and bamboo extract are known for their potent skincare benefits. Kate Donnelly, Forbes, 29 Feb. 2024 In addition to speeding up growth, krill contains astaxanthin, a pigment that gives salmon a pinker color. Joshua Goodman, Fortune, 13 Oct. 2023 There’s also astaxanthin, an antioxidant red microalgae that is among the most interesting beta-carotene-rich foods (excellent from Hawaii and the Azores), beneficial for eye health and skin protection from UV rays. Alessandra Signorelli, Vogue, 18 Sep. 2023 These supplements are derived from krill, a tiny shrimp-like creature that lives in the ocean and are packed with beneficial nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids and astaxanthin. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 26 July 2023 Some examples include vitamin C, which is essential for collagen production, and antioxidants like resveratrol, green tea extract, or astaxanthin, which may help protect collagen from damage. Silica supplements: Silica is a mineral that is involved in the formation of collagen. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 12 July 2023 Shrimp also get their pink color from an antioxidant called astaxanthin, which is said to have skin and heart health benefits. Women's Health, 1 May 2023 The red color of the pill is thanks to astaxanthin, a naturally occurring antioxidant, so consumers don't have to worry about unnatural dyes, and for those who have trouble swallowing pills, Kori Krill Oil offers three different sizes for your convenience. Annie O’Sullivan, Good Housekeeping, 17 Sep. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'astaxanthin.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from German, from Astacin, an oxidation product of astaxanthin (from New Latin Astacus, genus including Astacus gammarus, the European lobster—now Homarus gammarus— + German -in -in entry 1) + Xanthin "carotenoid pigment," from Greek xanthós "yellow" + German -in -in entry 1; Astacus going back to Latin, "lobster or crayfish," borrowed from Greek astakós, ostakós, of uncertain origin — more at xantho-

Note: The name Astacin was introduced by the German chemist Richard Kuhn (1900-67) and the Austrian-born French chemist Edgar Lederer (1908-88) in "Über die Farbstoffe des Hummers (Astacus gammarus L.) und ihre Stammsubstanz, das Astacin," Berichte der Deutschen Chemischen Gesellschaft, 66. Jahrgang, Nr. 4 (April 5, 1933), pp. 488-95.— Greek astakós/ostakós has been traced to a hypothetical Indo-European derivative *h2osth1-n̥-ko- from the base *h2ost- "bone" (see osseous), supposedly comparable to Sanskrit an-ástha-ka- "without bones." The variant astakós is explained as either vowel assimilation or the outcome of an ablaut variant *h2est- (allegedly seen also in astrágalos "neck vertebra, ankle bone"; see astragalus). Beekes (Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2010), who reconstructs the "bone" base as *h3esth1-, objects that the formation *h3esth1-n̥-ko- is unparalleled in Greek, and that the a/o fluctuation (not to mention the semantic field) is indicative of substratal origin.

First Known Use

1939, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of astaxanthin was in 1939

Dictionary Entries Near astaxanthin

Cite this Entry

“Astaxanthin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

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