Molecule of the Week

Cryptoxanthin

February 11, 2008

Cryptoxanthin is one of a class of carotenoids called xanthophylls. Its structure is identical to that of β-carotene except that it has a hydroxyl group. Like carotene, it is converted to vitamin A in the human body and acts as an antioxidant. Xanthophylls (from Greek xanthos, yellow) are found in leaves and flowers; when the chlorophyll in leaves is denatured by cold weather, xanthophylls are responsible for leaves’ changing to yellow and red colors.