Lutein and Zeaxanthin are special pigments found in colouful fruits and vegetables (such as carrots and broccoli) that help to keep our eyes in top condition.
What is Lutein & Zeaxanthin?
Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids which are the yellow and orange pigments that you find in fruit and vegetables including sweet potatoes, mangoes and dark leafy greens such as kale. Egg yolk and corn also contain lutein and zeaxanthin.
It’s good to eat a combination of these foods as not all contain the same amounts of both. Green leafy vegetables contain far more lutein than zeaxanthin, while orange peppers are the best source of zeaxanthin. Kiwi fruits and red seedless grapes are a rich source of lutein.*
Colourful fruits and veg are plentiful in an Asian diet but are consumed in smaller amounts in the west. This is why lutein and zeaxanthin supplements may be needed to makeup any shortfall.
Why do I need Lutein & Zeaxanthin?
Lutein & zeaxanthin are thought to be protective against eye disorders including age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Together lutein and zeaxanthin are stored in the retina of the eye and form the yellow pigment of the retina to absorb damaging blue and near-ultraviolet light from the sun. This protects the macula (the centre of the retina) which is the part of the eye that gives us colour and fine vision. But in working to do its job the macula produces free radicals (dangerous particles that damage DNA and other cells in the body). But Lutein and Zeaxanthin are also powerful antioxidants which means they help destroy free radicals, providing yet another boost to good eye health.
Some recent studies also suggest lutein and zeaxanthin may protect the heart by preventing the build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries that are associated with a higher risk of heart attack. More research is needed to support this.
Can too much Lutein & Zeaxanthin be harmful?
There is too little evidence to know the impact of consuming lutein and zeaxanthin in large quantities. Although there is no recommended daily allowance for lutein and zeaxanthin, the American Optometric Association recommends a dose of 10 mg a day of lutein and 2mg daily of zeaxanthin.