Astaxanthin (3,3’-dihydroxy-beta,beta-carotene-4,4’-dione) belongs to the xanthophyll subclass of carotenoids. It has a polar, non-polar, and neutral region. The polar astaxanthin structures have ionone rings with potent capacity for quenching free radicals or other oxidants. The polar-nonpolar-polar layout also allows the astaxanthin molecule to interact with the polar-nonpolar-polar matrix of the cell membrane. The nonpolar middle segment of the molecule is a series of conjugated carbon-carbon double bonds. This series of conjugated double bonds gives the molecule a capacity to remove high-energy electrons from free radicals and “delocalize” their electronic energy via the carbon-carbon chain.
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