Articles

Lutein

Introduction

Lutein is a naturally occurring pigment found in plants. When ingested by humans, it concentrates in a section of the eye called the macula, which is a small area in the center of the retina. Researchers have discovered that lutein protects the macula by filtering out potentially damaging forms of light.

Corn, egg yolks, spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, peas, leeks, and collard greens all contain high concentrations of lutein. Most of the lutein that is used in dietary supplements comes from marigolds.

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

2-40mg daily

Most Common Dosage

6mg daily

Dosage Forms

Tablets, capsules, and soft gel capsules.

Interactions and Depletions

Interactions

Reported Uses

Several areas of use have been evaluated for lutein. The most beneficial appear to be in the prevention of various conditions affecting vision and the eyes. Lutein has been called our "natural sun glasses" due to its ability to protect the eyes against radiation damage by acting as an optic filter and an antioxidant. (1) , (2) , (3) Several studies have demonstrated substantial protection against the type of damage that leads to macular degeneration. Unfortunately, only a small number of people were evaluated. (4) , (5) , (6) Recently, the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) evaluated the relationship between dietary lutein and zeaxanthin and the presence of age-related maculopathy. No overall observations could be made regarding supplementation with these carotenoids and age-related maculopathy. (7)

Lutein is the primary carotenoid found in the eye. (8) Individuals in the top 20 percent for dietary lutein intake were only half as likely to develop cataracts as those in the lowest 20 percent of lutein intake. (9)

Other studies have indicated a possible benefit to patients diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa. (10) , (11) This is hereditary disease that leads to night blindness, pigmentary changes within the retina, and eventual loss of vision. Better studies with more patients need to be completed to confirm this benefit.

Toxicities & Precautions

Introduction

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General

This dietary supplement is considered safe when used in accordance with proper dosing guidelines.

Pregnancy / Breast Feeding

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects related to fetal development during pregnancy or to infants who are breast-fed. Yet little is known about the use of this dietary supplement while pregnant or breast-feeding. Therefore, it is recommended that you inform your healthcare practitioner of any dietary supplements you are using while pregnant or breast-feeding.

Age Limitations

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects specifically related to the use of this dietary supplement in children. Since young children may have undiagnosed allergies or medical conditions, this dietary supplement should not be used in children under 10 years of age unless recommended by a physician.

References

  1. View Abstract: Pauleikhoff D, van Kuijk FJ, Bird AC. Macular pigment and age-related macular degeneration. Ophthalmologe. Jun2001;98(6):511-9.
  2. View Abstract: Nussbaum JJ, et al. Historic Perspectives. Macular Yellow Pigment. The First 200 Years. Retina. 1981;1(4):296-310.
  3. View Abstract: Landrum JT, et al. A One Year Study of the Macular Pigment: The Effect of 140 Days of a Lutein Supplement. Exp Eye Res. Jul1997;65(1):57-62.
  4. View Abstract: Hammond BR Jr, et al. Dietary Modification of Human Macular Pigment Density. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. Aug1997;38(9):1795-801.
  5. View Abstract: Landrum JT, et al. A One Year Study of the Macular Pigment: The Effect of 140 Days of a Lutein Supplement. Exp Eye Res. Jul1997;65(1):57-62.
  6. View Abstract: Richer S, Stiles W, Statkute L, et al. Double-masked, placebo-controlled, randomized trial of lutein and antioxidant supplementation in the intervention of atrophic age-related macular degeneration: the Veterans LAST study (Lutein Antioxidant Supplementation Trial). Optometry. Apr2004;75(4):216-30.
  7. View Abstract: 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. Mar2001;153(5):424-32.
  8. View Abstract: Yeum KJ, et al. Measurement of Carotenoids, Retinoids, and Tocopherols in Human Lenses. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. Dec1995;36(13):2756-61.
  9. View Abstract: Lyle BJ, et al. Antioxidant Intake and Risk of Incident Age-related Nuclear Cataracts in the Beaver Dam Eye Study. Am J Epidemiol. May1999;149(9):801-09.
  10. View Abstract: Aleman TS, Duncan JL, Bieber ML, de Castro E, Marks DA, Gardner LM, et al. Macular pigment and lutein supplementation in retinitis pigmentosa and Usher syndrome. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. Jul2001;42(8):1873-81.
  11. View Abstract: Dagnelie G, Zorge IS, McDonald TM. Lutein improves visual function in some patients with retinal degeneration: a pilot study via the Internet. Optometry. Mar2000;71(3):147-64.