Zeaxanthin & Lutein Help the Eyes & the Brain

brain eye health Zeaxanthin Recent research has found that the carotenoids zeaxanthin and lutein not only support vision, but also help the brain work more efficiently, protect bone structure and stem cells, help in medical diagnostics, and much more. In fact, these powerful antioxidants are key to long-term health. Especially as people get older, they need enough of these nutrients to help ward off disease and maintain quality of life.

As a person ages, the brain becomes less efficient. More mental activity is needed to accomplish thinking tasks that were easy in youth. This effect may not be obvious to an observer. However, an fMRI reveals how efficiently the brain is operating.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are found both in the retina and eye lens, and not only act as antioxidants but also filter out UV light, acting as a type of internal pair of sunglasses helping prevent eye damage due to ongoing light exposure to the eyes.

Lutein & Zeaxanthin prevent eye disease

Studies have shown that lutein and zeaxanthin play an important role in preventing eye disease. These nutrients’ effect on Macular Degeneration have been well-researched.1 2 3 4

Glare recovery – zeaxanthin, meso-zeaxanthin and lutein improve the density and thickness of the pigmented layer of the eye.  A more dense pigment layer facilitates quick adaption from light to dark and support good vision acuity under glare conditions. 5

Zeaxanthin & lutein support more than vision

Brain Efficiency – The study on zeaxanthin and lutein’s effects on brain efficiency was conducted at the University of Georgia6. Seniors’ lutein and zeaxanthin levels were detected through blood tests and by measuring macular pigment optical density. While the participants were undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), they were given a memory task. Those who had higher levels of these antioxidants used less blood oxygen level-dependent signaling in several areas of the brain. This means they needed less brain activity to complete the memory task.

Protection from fractures – levels of these carotenoids in the body are associated with risk of bone fractures.7

Stem cell protection – zeaxanthin is a promising pre-treatment for stem cell therapy.8

Cancer – high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin bring lower risk for some forms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.9

Biomarker – biomarkers are biochemicals in the body used in medical diagnosis.  Lutein and zeaxanthin have been found to be excellent biomarkers.10

Atherosclerosis – other new research connects diets high in these carotenoids with lower incidence of coronary heart disease.

Getting enough lutein and zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin come from food and supplements. A well-balanced diet, rich in fruits, leafy green and yellow vegetables, and some egg yolks, may still not have enough of these nutrients. Most people in the United States only consume 900 mcg of lutein from food; a therapeutic dose is 3.5 mg/day. We usually get only about 180 mcg of zeaxanthin per day, but 6 mg/day is available from supplements.

Recommended daily dosage is 10mg per day of lutein and 2 mg per day of zeaxanthin in supplement form both for reducing risk of onset of macular degeneration as well as helping preserve vision for those with macular degeneration. Supplemental nutrition is especially important in seniors, because digestion becomes less efficient as we age. Learn more about lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation.

  1. Centre for Vision Research, University of Sydney, Australia, 2008
  2. J.S. Tan, et al. in Opthalmology, February 2008.
  3. Oral supplementation with lutein and zeaxanthin with co-antioxidants may improve vision at 36 months for those at high risk for progression age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
  4. The Zeaxanthin and Visual Function Study in Atrophic Age Related Macular Degeneration (ZVF-FDA IND #78,973) – MP and Foveal Shape Discrimination: S.P. Richer1, W. Stiles1, M. Lavin, K. Graham1, C. Thomas1, D. Park3. J. Nyland1, J Wrobel
  5. “Macular pigment and visual performance under glare conditions”, Stringham and Hammond, Optometry and Visual Science, February, 2008.
  6. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, October, 2016, 25:1-12. Relationship of Lutein and Zeaxanthin Levels to Neurocognitive Functioning: An fMRI Study of Older Adults. Lindbergh CA et. al.
  7. “Carotenoids and risk of fracture: a meta-analysis of observational studies” J. Xu, C. Song, et.al., Oncotarget, November, 2016.
  8. “Precise Regulation of miR-210 is Critical for the Cellular Homeostasis Maintenance and Transplantation Efficacy Enhancement of Mesenchymal Stem Cell in Acute Liver Failure Therapy,” Y. Liu, et al., Cell Transplantation, December, 2016.
  9. “Carotenoid intake and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of observational studies”, F. Chen, et al., Annals of Hemotology, December, 2016.
  10. “Dietary biomarker evaluation in a controlled feeding study in women from the Women’s Health Initiative cohort,” J. W. Lampe, et al., American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, December, 2016.