Scientists have found that lutein can help prevent and treat eye conditions that may occur as part of aging, such as macular degeneration.
Keep reading to learn more about where to find lutein and how much lutein per day may benefit a person with macular degeneration.
Carotenoids are a group of naturally occurring pigments that are
Lutein is a member of the group of carotenoids called xanthophylls. Consuming lutein can help people prevent damage to different organs.
Many researchers believe that lutein protects the retina and macula from damage.
What the research says
The results showed that these individuals experienced an increase in the density of macular pigments. They also experienced an increase in visual acuity. Together, these results suggest that daily lutein intake can improve eye health for people with macular degeneration.
People with higher levels of lutein are at a
Scientists still have much to learn about lutein’s health benefits. Ongoing studies may reveal even more roles that lutein plays in the body.
Zeaxanthin is another carotenoid closely related to lutein. These two compounds are only slightly different at the atomic level.
Like lutein, zeaxanthin builds up in the human macula. Recent research has shown that both lutein and zeaxanthin work to prevent macular degeneration.
Several studies to date have shown positive results. However, more research is needed to find out exactly how these carotenoids protect eye health and to determine optimal supplement doses.
Many foods naturally contain large amounts of lutein. Some of the more common foods that have high lutein levels are:
Foods contain varying amounts of lutein. For example, 100 grams (g) of peas contains about 1.7 mg of lutein. The same quantity of kale contains about 11.4 mg; red pepper, 8.5 mg; and spinach, 7.9 mg.
Individuals who have macular degeneration or are at risk of developing it should consider adding kale or other lutein sources to their diet.
A 2020 study showed that consuming an egg daily increased the body’s level of lutein. For certain people, making changes to diet may be enough to raise lutein levels. However, a person should discuss any significant dietary changes with a medical professional or dietitian.
On average, each American adult consumes
In an additional
Further studies are needed to determine the right dosage of lutein for each individual. However, current research suggests that supplements have positive effects and few or no side effects.
There is also evidence to suggest that these carotenoids can help delay the progression of cataracts. When cataracts develop, the eye’s lens becomes clouded. People with cataracts may experience blurred vision or have trouble seeing colors. However, increasing lutein consumption can
Additionally, recent research has indicated that lutein can help people with diabetic retinopathy. This condition involves damage to the retina among people with diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy affects about
The AREDS study included the following doses of vitamins:
- 500 mg of vitamin C
- 400 international units (IU) of vitamin E
- 15 mg of beta carotene
- 2 mg of copper
- 80 mg of zinc
This daily supplementation decreased the risk of macular degeneration from intermediate to advanced stages by 25%. The risk of vision loss decreased by 19%.
In the AREDS2 study, the formula included the same doses of vitamins as above but added 10 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin. There were no differences in results between the AREDS and AREDS2 studies.
Lutein is a carotenoid known for giving some plants their color. When people consume lutein, it travels to the retina and promotes eye health.
People who experience macular degeneration may benefit from adding extra lutein to their diet through lutein-rich foods or lutein supplements.
Many studies have shown that lutein can help prevent or stall the progression of macular degeneration. A person should speak with a doctor to learn more about what lutein can do to protect long-term vision health.