Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin are naturally occurring dark-yellow carotenoid pigments abundant in plants such as yellow (e.g., corn pumpkins) and dark-green leafy vegetables (e.g., spinach).

Forms

  • Lutein and zeaxanthin Ester: In nature, lutein and zeaxanthin occur freely (not bound) or in the ester form (bound to fatty acids). The commercial lutein ester extract is prepared from marigold flowers (Tagetes erecta), which are dried, milled, and extracted. The resulting xanthophyll-ester mixture is then purified, concentrated, standardized for lutein and zeaxanthin content, and suspended in vegetable oil. Lutein and zeaxanthin esters are hydrolyzed to free lutein and zeaxanthin by the body for absorption.

Major Health Benefits

Lutein and zeaxanthin are essential for normal eyes and vision.1 Lutein and zeaxanthin has been found to possess antioxidant activity by protecting the skin from UV damage and the retina from light damage.2,3 It has been suggested that adequate intake of lutein and zeaxanthin may decrease the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which can cause blindness.3-6 Consumption of fruits and vegetable high in lutein and zeaxanthin have been associated with reducing the risk of lung cancer.7 Higher levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in the blood and retina are associated with better cognitive function in the elderly.8,9

References

  1. Abdel-Aal el-SM, Akhtar H, Zaheer K, Ali R. Dietary sources of lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids and their role in eye health. Nutrients. 2013 Apr 9;5(4):1169-85.PMID: 23571649; PMCID: PMC3705341.
  2. Palombo P, Fabrizi G, Ruocco V, Ruocco E, Fluhr J, Roberts R, Morganti P. Beneficial long-term effects of combined oral/topical antioxidant treatment with the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin on human skin: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2007;20(4):199-210. Epub 2007 Apr 19.PMID: 17446716.
  3. Krinsky NI, Landrum JT, Bone RA. Biologic mechanisms of the protective role of lutein and zeaxanthin in the eye. Annu Rev Nutr. 2003;23:171-201. Epub 2003 Feb 27.PMID: 12626691.
  4. Gale CR, Hall NF, Phillips DI, Martyn CN. Lutein and zeaxanthin status and risk of age-related macular degeneration. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2003 Jun;44(6):2461-5. PMID: 12766044.
  5. Mares-Perlman JA, Fisher AI, Klein R, Palta M, Block G, Millen AE, Wright JD. Lutein and zeaxanthin in the diet and serum and their relation to age-related maculopathy in the third national health and nutrition examination survey. Am J Epidemiol. 2001 Mar 1;153(5):424-32. PMID: 11226974.
  6. Huang YM, Dou HL, Huang FF, Xu XR, Zou ZY, Lin XM. Effect of supplemental lutein and zeaxanthin on serum, macular pigmentation, and visual performance in patients with early age-related macular degeneration. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:564738.PMID: 25815324; PMCID: PMC4359817.
  7. Holick CN, Michaud DS, Stolzenberg-Solomon R, et al. Dietary carotenoids, serum beta-carotene, and retinol and risk of lung cancer in the alpha-tocopherol, beta-carotene cohort study. Am J Epidemiol. 2002 Sep 15;156(6):536-47. PMID: 12226001.
  8. Vishwanathan R, Iannaccone A, Scott TM, et al. Macular pigment optical density is related to cognitive function in older people. Age Ageing. 2014 Mar;43(2):271-5. PMID: 24435852; PMCID: PMC3927776.
  9. Johnson EJ, Vishwanathan R, Johnson MA, et al. Relationship between Serum and Brain Carotenoids, α-Tocopherol, and Retinol Concentrations and Cognitive Performance in the Oldest Old from the Georgia Centenarian Study. J Aging Res. 2013;2013:951786. PMID: 23840953; PMCID: PMC3690640.