Lutein is a yellow carotenoid pigment produced by plants, and found in the eye, specifically in the macula, the small, central area covering the retina. Lutein is a powerful antioxidant believed to protect the eye and optic nerves, as a filter against damaging blue light and to prevent free radical damage to the delicate structures in the back of the eye. Thus, it is thought to prevent age-related macular degeneration; prevent glaucoma and cataracts; and support normal eye health.
Lutein is a xanthophyll, a subgroup in the carotene plant family, which consist of over 600 phytochemicals derived from C5 isoprene, known as the carotenoid pigments. These pigments give yellow, green or orange coloration to vegetables and fruits and they are precursors for Vitamin A. High dietary intake of lutein-rich fruits and vegetables has been associated with a significant reduction in macular degeneration – the leading cause of blindness in Americans over the age of 65. For example, in research studies, individuals with the highest spinach consumption reduce their risk of developing ARMD by almost 90%. Dietary lutein is considered an essential micronutrient for normal vision. Lutein supplementation may be beneficial for the management of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older people.
Dietary Sources: Lutein is naturally found in egg yolk, and several plants including some flowers, red peppers, collard greens, kale, leeks, peas, romaine lettuce, mustard and spinach.
Dosage: It appears that diets providing about 6 milligrams (mg) of lutein per day can reduce ARMD prevalence by nearly half. However, the consumption of these foods has dropped more than 20% in the two groups at highest risk for ARMD (women and elderly).
Side Effects: There are no known adverse side effects associated with dietary supplements containing lutein when used at recommended levels.
Research on lutein shows the following effects:
1. Those with poor recover following stroke have lower lutein levels that those who remained stable
2. Low lutein is a risk factor in coronary heart disease
3. Decreases systolic and diastolic blood pressure
4. Those with Alzheimer’s disease have low lutein
5. May help prevent colorectal tumor development
6. Protects from UV damage
7. Incidence of age-related macular degeneration is higher in those with low lutein
8. Improves visual acuity and glare sensitivity
9. Reduces risk of cataracts
10. Protects normal cells from apoptosis from chemotherapy
11. Reduces risk of osteoarthritis
12. Reduces risk of ovarian cancer
13. Reduces risk of endometrial cancer
14. May improve respiratory health
Lutein Abstracts (50)