Lutein health benefits for the eye, make this vitamin one the most important nutrients for our health. When you hear of carotenoid, “it is usually referred to lutein, it is related to “vitamin A and Beta-carotene”. Present in the macula of the eye, the small area in the eye that has the sharpest vision. And is responsible for color vision but it degenerates over time resulting in poor eyesight. It can also be found in lower concentrations in the retina, lens, and optic nerve”. According to research
“Your body doesn’t make lutein. You must consume it through diet or supplements. Plants that produce lutein are to protect against oxidative damage. As a result, the consumption of plants – either directly or indirectly – provides lutein to support eye health”.
It is identified in certain fruits and vegetables, “such as in those with deep orange and yellow coloring like oranges and carets. Lutein is a form of xanthophy11, mainly extracted directly from a group of antioxidant plant pigments and used as concentrated supplement”.
“Lutein color is typically a bright yellow/orange and is responsible for the color of egg yolks. It is also found in a range of commonly grown flowers, with most lutein supplements being derived from marigold flowers”.
Lutein health benefits for your body
Lutein main benefit is to “treat eye diseases and reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Lutein strengthens eye tissue by blocking harmful blue light from entering the retina”.
Studies have shown, “supplementing participants with just 30mg of lutein per day resulted in a 30-40% reduction in harmful blue light reaching the most vulnerable areas of the eye”.
lutein health benefits are vital to the eye health including:
Cataracts – “caused by proteins that build-up on the lens of the eye, and over time can interfere with vision. Research suggests that higher intakes of lutein may help to lower the risk of cataracts, particularly nuclear cataracts”.
Eye Fatigue – “if you spend long time sitting in front of a computer, TV or smartphone, then you will probably experience eye-fatigue and glare sensitivity at some point. Evidence shows that increasing lutein intake in normal-sighted adults can reduce glare sensitivity and sharpen vision”.
Atherosclerosis – “lutein acts as an antioxidant and may potentially help to reduce the oxidation of blood fats, such as cholesterol and triglycerides. This results in fewer blood fats sticking to the inside of artery walls, which reduces the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease”.
Skin Protection – “a combination of lutein and zeaxanthin has been shown to have a four-fold increase in the skin’s protection against UV radiation-induced skin damage. After the trial, subjects who had been showing signs of premature ageing saw surface lipids increase by 63%”.
What foods are considered best source of lutein?
People who consume diet with high level of this vitamin, “appear to have lower risk of developing AMD and may not benefit from increasing their intake. As for those who have poor diet habits and certain medical issues, taking lutein for over couple years it will show improvement in AMD symptoms”.
Foods with the highest concentrations of lutein includes:
- Brightly colored fruits and vegetables such as carrots and peppers
- Leafy greens such as kale, lettuce, Spinach, and broccoli
- Egg yolk
- Kiwi fruit
- Orange juice
“As both the concentration and bioavailability of dietary lutein vary in natural foods, scientists recommend consuming a range of mentioned foods. Some concerns have been raised about consuming large volumes of eggs, in the past studies, due to the high levels of cholesterol they contain. Therefore, dietitians recommended diet rich in fruits and vegetables that are rich in lutein”.
The benefits of lutein supplements
“The body cannot produce lutein, so it needs to be consumed through the diet. Currently, there is no set recommended daily intake for lutein, however many experts advise taking a minimum of 6 (mg) of lutein per day for adults in order to receive the beneficial effects. Other experts advise strengths above 30 mg per day”. According to research
“Lutein supplementations increase the optical density of the macular pigment in eyes of the majority of human subjects”. Studies published in Nutrition and Metabolism
“People with diets higher in lutein had lower incidences of age-related macular degeneration”. Another study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology
“A combination of lutein, zeaxanthin and omega 3 oils helped to improve visual acuity performance, particularly when taken at high doses above 20mg per day”. A separate study showed
“Most lutein supplements are sourced from the marigold plant (calendula variety). It is the plant’s rich lutein and zeaxanthin content that gives the petals their bright yellow and orange colors”.
Side effects of overdoes lutein
With many of lutein health benefits, side effects when overdose are rare. “Lutein has no known side-effects, toxicity, or drug interactions, studies showed. Consuming diet concentrated with lutein and taking lutein supplements is usually safe for individuals with no health issues”.
“However, people with skin cancer or cystic fibrosis, should be more careful considering lutein supplements”. Consulting a medical professional is always recommended before taking any type of supplements”.
“It is safe to take 7-12 mg of lutein per day. Research showed, lutein supplements have been used safely at 15 mg per day, up to two years”.
“In rare cases, people who consume high levels of carotene-rich carrots or yellow fruits can develop a yellowing of the skin called carotenemia. Although this is completely harmless, it can look distressing”.
Lutein is a “naturally occurring chemical presented in plants. Our body cannot produce it, we may consume it through diet or through supplementation”.
Many health studies demonstrated lutein health benefits, mainly emphasizing on eye health. “It is a vitamin used as a medicine to prevent age-related macular disease that cause blindness, cataracts, and other vision problems. As the macula degenerates, so eyesight can worsen. Experts believe that maintaining suitable lutein levels in the body can slow this decline, maintaining eye health for longer”.
“Rich sources of lutein include egg yolk, leafy vegetables and yellow, orange, or red fruits and vegetables. Consuming fruits and vegetables of varying colors can help to ensure your body obtains enough lutein”.
“Lutein supplements are normally derived from the orange flowers of the marigold plant. Age related vison loss can be the risk for certain groups of people. So, they may benefit from higher intakes of lutein, include smokers, people with lighter iris color, and people with family history of eye disease. Studies have shown that the concentration of lutein in the macula can be increased through lutein supplementation”.