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What does lutein do?

What does lutein do?

From Forbes HEALTH     Jul 22,2023

Lutein known as the “eye vitamin,” lutein is one of two carotenoids thought to help filter light and protect the eye from sun damage. Oral supplements containing lutein can help prevent age-related macular degeneration, says Woods. Dietary lutein might help prevent cataracts, but research has yet to confirm whether supplements can have the same effect as food.

“Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in older adults,” says Woods. “For older people, I recommend getting lutein from food but also by supplementing. It works hand in hand with another antioxidant [called] zeaxanthin. Both of those [nutrients] are usually found together [in the same supplement].”

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables should provide enough lutein for healthy adults, but there are no known side effects from supplementing for those who choose to do so. However, consuming lutein alongside beta carotene specifically might reduce the body’s absorption of both vitamins, and when taken with vitamin E, lutein can reduce the amount of vitamin E the body can absorb. Food sources of lutein include egg yolks, spinach and kale. It’s also important to consume lutein along with foods high in fat to facilitate better absorption.

Lutein is a pigment found in high concentrations in various fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens like spinach and kale. It belongs to a group of compounds called carotenoids, which are natural antioxidants.

The primary function of lutein is to filter harmful high-energy blue light from the eyes and protect them from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Lutein accumulates in the macula, a small area in the center of the retina responsible for detailed central vision. Due to its protective properties, lutein is considered beneficial for eye health and has been associated with a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.

Moreover, lutein has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties and may help support cardiovascular health. It also plays a role in skin health, acting as a natural sunscreen that filters UV rays and helps prevent skin damage.

In addition to its biological functions, lutein is often used as a dietary supplement to increase its intake, especially for individuals who do not consume enough lutein-rich foods.

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