Lutein (pronounced loo-teen) is an antioxidant belonging to a group called carotenoids, which make the brilliant yellow, red and orange colors in fruits, vegetables and other plants. Anti-oxidants reduce the effects of the activity of reactive compounds called free radicals, which can trigger damage to our organs– and for that reason, our health– if their presence isn’t controlled. [2]


Lutein has traditionally been used given that the 1950s for the treatment of eye illness and for its purported protective result on visual function. In 1996, the incorporation of lutein into dietary substances was accepted (at 6 to 7 mg/day), with marigold-sourced lutein utilized as a food additive and colorant. A lot of research studies carried out up to the 1990s have actually examined the efficacy of overall carotenoid material, whereas more recent studies focus particularly on lutein.


Lutein is a xanthophyll carotenoid, among about 600 natural carotenoids; nevertheless, lutein is not a precursor of vitamin a. It is a red/orange crystalloid substance that is insoluble in water and has a melting point of 190 ° c( 374 ° f ). Lutein is biosynthesized in plants and some microalgae. It is typically accepted that lutein in vegetables exists in the trans kind; however cis-lutein has actually been explained. In food substances, lutein may exist in the complimentary or esterified form, or bound to protein. Crystalline lutein is challenging to handle and is typically suspended in corn or safflower oils or in microcapsule form. [3]

System of action

Xanthophylls have antioxidant activity and respond with active oxygen types, producing biologically active degradation items. They also can hinder peroxidation of membrane phospholipids and reduce lipofuscin formation, both of which add to their antioxidant residential or commercial properties. Lutein is naturally present in the macula of the human retina. It strains possibly phototoxic blue light and near-ultraviolet radiation from the macula. The protective impact is due in part, to the reactive oxygen species satiating ability of these carotenoids. Lutein is more stable to decay by pro-oxidants than are other carotenoids such as beta-carotene and lycopene. Lutein is plentiful in the area surrounding the fovea, and lutein is the primary pigment at the outermost periphery of the macula. Zeaxanthin, which is totally conjugated (lutein is not), might provide somewhat better defense than lutein versus phototoxic damage triggered by blue and near-ultraviolet light radiation. Lutein is among just two carotenoids that have been recognized in the human lens, might be protective versus age-related boosts in lens density and cataract development. Once again, the possible security afforded by lutein may be represented, in part, by its reactive oxygen species scavenging abilities. Carotenoids likewise supply security from cancer. One of the mechanisms of this is by increasing the expression of the protein connexin-43, consequently promoting gap junctional interaction and preventing unrestrained cell proliferation. [4]

High lutein foods

  • Several foods are high in lutein, including many vegetables and fruits. Foods that are dark green, yellow, or orange are typically greatest in lutein.
  • Kale has a track record as a natural food for a reason. It includes 6447 mcg of lutein per cooked cup. Besides lutein, kale is rich in calcium, vitamin c, beta-carotene, vitamin a, vitamin k, and fiber. It’s also low in calories– one cup of raw kale has just 8 calories.
  • Winter season squash, which includes butternut, hubbard, and acorn squash, is very high in lutein and zeaxanthin (3170 mcg) and vitamin a. These squashes are also rich in potassium and include considerable amounts of several other vitamins and minerals. One cup of cooked butternut squash has 6.3 grams of fiber and about 80 calories.
  • Collards are abundant in vitamins and minerals, consisting of 11774 mcg of lutein per prepared cup. Besides lutein, beta-carotene, and vitamin a, collards are especially high in calcium and magnesium. They’re likewise super-rich in vitamin k and have lots of vitamin c.
  • Yellow sweet corn is high in lutein (934 mcg per cup) and potassium, plus it has some fiber and b vitamins. Popcorn is likewise high in lutein and fiber and is a whole grain– making it a healthy snack, as long as it’s not soaked in butter or topped with excessive salt.
  • Spinach is another green leafy veggie that’s very good for you. It’s rich in lutein with 20354 mcg per prepared cup and iron, calcium, potassium, vitamin a, vitamin c, vitamin k, and fiber.
  • It’s likewise low in calories– just 7 calories per cup of raw spinach leaves.
  • Swiss chard is yet another leafy green veggie rich in lutein, consisting of 19276 mcg per cup. A 1-cup serving of sliced prepared chard has just 35 calories, however it’s a great source of calcium, iron, potassium, vitamin a, vitamin c, and vitamin k.
  • Peas aren’t the most amazing of veggies, however they are nutrient-dense. Not only are they high in lutein, with 4149 per cup, they also provide magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, b-complex vitamins, and vitamin a.
  • Arugula, likewise referred to as “rocket,” is another green leafy vegetable that’s high in lutein (including 711 per cup) and just about every other vitamin and mineral. Arugula is very low in calories and is ideal for a salad base or wilted in a bit of olive oil and garlic.
  • Brussels sprouts are a good source of lutein, with 2012 mcg per cup, and they likewise consist of lots of other vitamins and numerous minerals. They’re also high in dietary fiber and have only 56 calories per cup.
  • Broccoli rabe (also called broccoli raab or rapini) is high in lutein, with 1431 mcg per cup, vitamin a, folate, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin k. It’s also a good source of fiber and extremely low in calories– about 9 calories per cup, raw.
  • Pumpkin’s abundant orange flesh is extremely high in lutein, containing 2484 mcg per prepared cup. It’s likewise high in potassium. Pumpkin also isn’t high in calories unless you include a great deal of sugar. One cup of plain mashed pumpkin provides about 50 calories.
  • Eggs are a fantastic source of lutein, with 251.5 mcg each. Lutein gives the yolk its yellow color. Eggs are likewise a great source of protein.
  • Sweet potatoes are rich in lutein, with 1053 mcg per 100 grams. They likewise use vitamin a, beta-carotene, potassium, manganese, vitamin c, and fiber.
  • Carrots have been reported to assist you see much better, with excellent reason. They are high in lutein, beta-carotene, vitamin a, and vitamin c, plus they’re a good source of several b vitamins, potassium, and manganese. A 1-cup serving of chopped carrots has about 50 calories.
  • Asparagus is high in lutein, with 1388 mcg per prepared cup, and provides numerous other nutrients, including calcium and magnesium. It’s likewise an excellent source of vitamins a, k, and c. Asparagus is low in calories too– 1 cup of prepared asparagus has about 40 calories. [5]


They’re important anti-oxidants

Lutein and zeaxanthin are powerful antioxidants that safeguard your body against unsteady molecules called free radicals.

In excess, complimentary radicals can harm your cells, add to aging and result in the development of illness like heart problem, cancer, type 2 diabetes and alzheimer’s illness.

Lutein and zeaxanthin protect your body’s proteins, fats and dna from stress factors and can even help recycle glutathione, another crucial anti-oxidant in your body.

Furthermore, their antioxidant residential or commercial properties may decrease the impacts of “bad” ldl cholesterol, therefore reducing plaque accumulation in your arteries and reducing your danger of heart problem.

Lutein and zeaxanthin also work to secure your eyes from free radical damage.

Your eyes are exposed to both oxygen and light, which in turn promote the production of hazardous oxygen totally free radicals. Lutein and zeaxanthin cancel out these totally free radicals, so they’re no longer able to harm your eye cells.

These carotenoids seem to work better together and can combat totally free radicals better when combined, even at the exact same concentration.


Lutein and zeaxanthin are very important antioxidants, which protect your cells from damage. Most notably, they support the clearance of free radicals in your eyes.

They support eye health

Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only dietary carotenoids that collect in the retina, particularly the macula region, which is located at the back of your eye.

Because they’re discovered in focused quantities in the macula, they’re called macular pigments.

The macula is important for vision. Lutein and zeaxanthin work as essential antioxidants in this area by securing your eyes from harmful totally free radicals. It’s believed that a decrease of these anti-oxidants with time can impair eye health.

Lutein and zeaxanthin also function as a natural sunblock by soaking up excess light energy. They’re believed to particularly safeguard your eyes from damaging blue light.

Below are some conditions with which lutein and zeaxanthin might help:

Age-related macular degeneration (amd): consumption of lutein and zeaxanthin might protect versus amd development to blindness.

Cataracts: cataracts are cloudy patches at the front of your eye. Eating foods abundant in lutein and zeaxanthin might slow their development.

Diabetic retinopathy: in animal diabetes studies, supplementing with lutein and zeaxanthin has actually been revealed to decrease oxidative stress markers that damage the eyes.

Eye detachment: rats with eye detachments who were offered lutein injections had 54% less cell death than those injected with corn oil.

Uveitis: this is an inflammatory condition in the center layer of the eye. Lutein and zeaxanthin might help reduce the inflammatory procedure involved.

The research study to support lutein and zeaxanthin for eye health is appealing, however not all research studies reveal advantages. For instance, some studies found no link between lutein and zeaxanthin consumption and the risk of early beginning age-related macular degeneration.

While there are numerous elements at play, having enough lutein and zeaxanthin is still crucial to your total eye health.


Lutein and zeaxanthin might assist enhance or decrease the progression of lots of eye conditions, but they may not reduce your threat of early onset age-related degeneration.

May safeguard your skin

Just in recent years have the useful impacts of lutein and zeaxanthin on skin been found.

Their antioxidant effects enable them to safeguard your skin from the sun’s destructive ultraviolet (uv) rays.

A two-week animal study showed that rats who received 0.4% lutein- and zeaxanthin-enriched diet plans had less uvb-induced skin inflammation than those who got only 0.04% of these carotenoids.

Another research study in 46 individuals with mild-to-moderate dry skin discovered that those who received 10 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin had substantially enhanced complexion, compared to the control group.

In addition, lutein and zeaxanthin might secure your skin cells from premature aging and uvb-induced tumors.


Lutein and zeaxanthin work as encouraging antioxidants in your skin. They can safeguard it from sun damage and might help improve skin tone and sluggish aging. [6]

Lutein & & brain health

While our diet plans are typically high in beta-carotene and other carotenoids, lutein is the dominant carotenoid in the brain– and something we frequently do not get enough of.

Its contributions to brain health include:

Quenching damaging complimentary radicals and safeguarding versus oxidative tension, both of which promote disease and aging.

Helping to moisten chronic inflammation, an underlying consider neurodegeneration and other diseases.

Increasing brain-derived neurotrophic element (bdnf), a growth factor that promotes the brain’s capability to alter and adjust; particularly active in locations related to learning and memory.

Enhancing visual processing speed, which belongs to awareness and brain “readiness.”.

Reducing eye stress and eye tiredness, which can have a result on cognitive function, especially throughout high exposure to blue light from digital screens on mobile phones, computers, tablets, and so on.

Plus, lutein might enhance sleep, particularly if you invest a great deal of time on digital screens, which assists blunt the many unfavorable cognitive results of poor sleep.

A necessary nutrient throughout life:

From gestation on, ideal brain function depends on lutein. Transferred from mom to fetus during pregnancy and abundant in breast milk, it contributes in prenatal and infant advancement of the brain and eyes.

A recent research study underscores its significance during these critical periods of growth and advancement. Researchers from harvard and tufts university followed individuals in the ongoing job viva, which is examining the impacts of maternal and childhood diet plans and other elements on health outcomes. They found that a greater consumption of lutein and zeaxanthin by mothers during pregnancy was connected with much better verbal intelligence and behavior guideline in their offspring throughout early youth.

The benefits of lutein for cognition continue throughout life. Population studies have linked a higher consumption of lutein-rich foods such as leafy greens with much better cognitive health in all age groups– consisting of a lowered threat of developing alzheimer’s illness.

Lutein levels & & cognitive function

Autopsies of people who died from various causes have actually revealed parallels between lutein levels in the brain and cognitive function. Those with higher lutein levels had much better scores on tests they had previously taken evaluating attention, iq, and executive function (working memory, versatile thinking, self-control, etc). They likewise had less signs of neurodegeneration.

A more practical method of evaluating these levels is to determine “macular pigment optical density” (mpod). Lutein and zeaxanthin build up in the macula, an area in the retina that plays a key role in vision. A high mpod is a sign of an abundance of these carotenoids, which suggests greater security for your eyes– and your brain.

Mpod is progressively used as a biomarker of lutein concentrations in the brain due to the fact that it tracks well with cognitive function. For example, a research study including 4,453 males and females aged 50 and older found that a lower mpod was closely associated with poorer performance on a number of cognitive assessments, consisting of reaction time, memory, and the time required to finish given jobs. A variety of other studies support these results.

Brain advantages of supplement lutein

Research on lutein’s impacts in the brain truly got after lutein supplements entered their own about 10 years earlier. Prior to that, there wasn’t much to suggest besides consuming more kale and spinach. As you can picture, that didn’t fly. The average dietary consumption for us adults is simply 1– 2 mg daily.

Fortunately, extra lutein and zeaxanthin likewise successfully improve mpod and assistance cognitive function. This has been shown in multiple studies, consisting of a placebo-controlled clinical trial released in frontiers in aging neuroscience. Grownups with a typical age of 74 were divided into 2 groups and appointed to take a supplement containing 12 mg of lutein plus zeaxanthin or a similar placebo. When they were reevaluated after 12 months, the group taking lutein/zeaxanthin had significant increases in mpod, a sign of a boost in lutein levels in the brain as well as improvements in cognitive function.

Lutein supplements also benefit younger adults. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled research study, irish researchers checked the effects of a lutein-zeaxanthin supplement in healthy people with a typical age of 45. Of note, significant improvements were observed in episodic memory, or the capability to discover, shop, and recover info about specific experiences. Improvements were carefully related to increases in lutein concentrations.

The researchers concluded, “the implications of these findings for intellectual performance throughout life, and for threat of cognitive decline in later life, warrant further study.”.

Eat your greens & & take supplements

You can get plenty of lutein in your diet plan. A cup of prepared turnip greens or collards provides 18– 19 mg, and cooked spinach and kale have 25– 30 mg each. Cooking greens and eating them with a little olive oil or other healthy fat increases absorption. A couple of other veggies such as squash, peas, brussels sprouts, and broccoli are reasonably excellent sources, with 2– 4 mg per cup. Avocados and egg yolks have considerably less, however since their lutein is bound up in fat, it is exceptionally bioavailable.

Supplements are another alternative, and as kept in mind above, are rather effective at increasing mpod and concentrations of lutein in the brain. Awareness of the positive effects of lutein and zeaxanthin on the eyes has encouraged many individuals to take extra lutein to protect and preserve their vision.

Now, you can rest assured that you are also securing and protecting your brain and cognitive function. Recommended everyday dosages are 20– 40 mg of lutein and 4– 8 mg of zeaxanthin. [7]

Side effects

When taken by mouth: lutein is likely safe when taken by mouth. Consuming as much as 20 mg of lutein daily as part of the diet or as a supplement appears to be safe. [8]
Lutein seems nontoxic and safe for usage in moderate or perhaps relatively high doses. Lutein supplements have actually been utilized securely by grownups in doses up to 15 to 20 milligrams daily for as long as two years without any major negative effects. That stated, possible lutein and zeaxanthin side effects can consist of safe yellowing of the skin called carotenemia and an upset stomach/vomiting if you take excessive.

There aren’t any known special preventative measures for females who are pregnant or breastfeeding, however it’s constantly a great idea to talk with your medical professional when pregnant before starting new extra treatments.

Keep in mind that just like other anti-oxidants, individuals appear to vary in terms of how capable their bodies are of taking in lutein. Some may have a more difficult time using it and other antioxidants from foods and transporting to tissues within the eyes or other organs. This can increase their risk for establishing shortages and experiencing conditions as they age.

For people with a genetic predisposition to eye conditions or cancer, taking more lutein might be necessary. As another example, one group of individuals who can usually afford to take more is those with cystic fibrosis. It seems that individuals with this disorder may not take in some carotenoids from food extremely well and typically show low blood levels of lutein. If you think you might take advantage of high doses of lutein, it’s best to speak with your physician to dismiss any possible contraindications. [9]

Is lutein safe?

In spite of the absence of clear health advantages, some people may take extra lutein. Which doses are safe?

  • Based on the lack of reported adverse effects in the research studies that have been done, approximately 20 mg per day of a lutein supplement need to be safe for adults.
  • There is no evidence available to determine a safe lutein supplement dosage in kids.
  • Similar to many other medications and supplements, there is no details about security in pregnant or breastfeeding women.
  • Huge dosages of carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin can trigger carotenodermia – a yellow-orange skin discoloration. It can look like jaundice, but the abnormal skin color can be gotten rid of with an alcohol swab. [10]


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