What is Lutein?
Carotenoids are group of naturally occurring pigments in plants that are usually red, orange or yellow in color. Carotenoids include beta carotene, alpha carotene, zeaxanthin and lutein. Lutein is a yellow pigment but appears to be in orange to red when in high concentrations. It accounts for the yellow colors of plants especially in green leafy vegetables.
Lutein, together with zeaxanthin, can be naturally found in the eye specifically the macula which provides the yellowish color of the eyes. It serves as a light filter in which it protects the eye tissues from damages caused by sunlight.
Many companies use lutein as vitamin formulas because of its eye and cardiovascular qualities that it was even termed as the best vitamins for the eyes.
Benefits of Lutein supplements:
- According to a study of Dr. Seddon, taking lutein supplements can restore lost macular pigment
- Moreover, lutein, together with other carotenoids namely zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin hinder blue light to penetrate the underlying structures in the retina which leads to the reduction of risk of light-induced oxidative damage that may result to age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
- It can prevent the symptoms of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and can hinder macular degeneration (MD). A study was conducted using lutein with the dietary mineral zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and copper shows that it impede the advancement of macular degeneration and even preserved vision for those with early MD.
- It may also be possible for prevention of cataract or lessening its development.
- It has the ability to fight atherosclerosis, a serious disease in which the arteries are clogged up by plaques or atheroma (fatty substances) which will lead to heart attack
- It Serves as anti-oxidants thereby reducing the works of free radicals in the body and even work with other natural antioxidants like beta carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E so healthy cells are maintained.
- Lutein supplementation or diet lessens risk of cardiovascular disease therefore the higher the lutein and antioxidants in the body, the healthier their blood vessels are.
- May also be a possible prevention for colon cancer, breast cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Food sources of lutein:
Lutein can be highly found in green and yellow leafy vegetables specifically kale, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, corn, orange, peas, squash while highly found in egg yolk for animal source.
There is no Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) or Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for lutein therefore it is up to your physician, to the manufacturer’s label or to your body’s condition how much to take. This is just a general recommendation: take 6-10mg of lutein supplements a day or if you want to have vegetable, take 2 bowls of raw spinach a day which is equivalent to 6mg.
Lutein Side effects:
There are no reported side effects of lutein.
Pregnant, nursing women and people with Cystic fibrosis are not advised to take lutein.