Compounds in leafy green vegetables known as lutein and zeaxanthin increase hydration, elasticity, and surface lipids of the skin while protecting against lipid oxidation, according to the results of a study presented at the Beyond Beauty Paris conference in September 2006.
Italian researchers studied women aged 25-50 who received 10 mg of an oral supplement of lutein and zeaxanthin, a 50-part-per-million topical lutein/zeaxanthin formula, a combination of oral and topical lutein and zeaxanthin, or a placebo for 12 weeks. Compared to placebo, lutein and zeaxanthin administered orally, topically, and both orally and topically were associated with improvements in skin elasticity, skin hydration, and superficial lipid levels, as well as a reduction in skin lipid oxidation. Combined oral and topical lutein provided the greatest overall benefit, resulting in a 60% increase in skin hydration, a 20% increase in skin elasticity, a 50% elevation in superficial lipid levels, and a 65% decrease in skin lipid peroxidation.
The study contributes to previous findings suggesting that regular ingestion of lutein may help improve the skin’s antioxidant defense system, which helps protect against damage caused by the sun and artificial light.11 Lutein and zeaxanthin are commonly ingested as nutritional supplements for eye health.
“This is the first study to determine the impact of lutein/zeaxanthin alone on the human skin,” noted Richard L. Roberts, PhD, senior manager of scientific affairs for Kemin Health, a leading manufacturer of lutein. “It provides strong new evidence of lutein’s positive role in promoting skin health and appearance by increasing hydration, elasticity, and lipid content.”