Zeaxanthin and lutein are carotenoids found in maximum concentration in the macular region of the eyes, where they are believed to help filter out damaging blue light and avoid free-radical damage to the delicate structures in the back of the eye. Zeaxanthin belongs to subgroup xanthophylls of bioflavonoid called carotenoids. Zeaxanthin and lutein are the only carotenoids found in both the macula and lens of the human eye, and have dual functions in both tissues to act as strong antioxidants and to filter high-energy blue light.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin Foods
Egg yolk, corn, kale, orange peppers, orange juice, carrots, tangerines, peaches, apricots, papayas, mangos, kiwi, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, collard, turnip greens, parsley, spinach.
Zeaxanthin and lutein are potent antioxidants, and lutein is widely known as the basic nutrient for protecting ocular function. Lutein and zeaxanthin may avoid cellular damage in these conditions by quenching singlet oxygen or neutralizing photosensitizers.
Blue light is a component of natural sunlight and when it reaches the retina, it can be deleterious to the photoreceptors and the retinal pigment epithelium, which are essential to vision. Zeaxanthin and lutein appear to absorb excess light energy to avoid harm to plants from too much sunlight, particularly from high energy light rays called blue ligh. By absorbing blue light, the macular pigment protects the underlying photoreceptor cell layer from light harm, probably initiated by the formation of reactive oxygen species during a photosensitized reaction.
The role played by the strong antioxidant zeaxanthin in the eye is to sharpen central vision, decrease the effects of glare and maintain healthful visual acuity. Increased risk of age related macular degeneration may result from low levels of zeaxanthin and lutein in the diet, serum or retina, and excessive exposure to blue light. Research findings indicates a potent correlation between high blood serum levels of zeaxanthin and a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataract formation.
According to experts of the “American Optometric Association“, except reducing the risk of developing eye illness other researches have shown that zeaxanthin and lutein increase visual performance in age-related macular degeneration and cataract patients.
According to a study published in the November 2002 issue of “Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science” indicates that supplementing your diet with zeaxanthin helps to avoid and reduce harm to the retinas.
In one study involving 77,466 female nurses from the “Nurses Health Study“, those with the highest quintile for consumption of lutein and zeaxanthin were found to have a 22 percent decrease in the risk of cataract extraction. According to the findings of the study found that consuming high level of zeaxanthin and lutein reduced the need for cataract surgery.
In a study reported in “Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics” in August 2010, the researchers conclude that, zeaxanthin and lutein filter short wavelength light and avoid or decrease the generation of free radicals in the retinal pigment epithelium and choroid.
According to research conducted by experts from the “University of Eastern Finland“; increased amounts of zeaxanthin and lutein may decrease the risk of cataract by approximately 40%. (British Journal of Nutrition)
In a study of 2500 persons (POLA Study), high levels of zeaxanthin in their blood have 93 percent less risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and 75 percent less risk of developing a nuclear cataract. In another study with 5000 participants found high dietary lutein and zeaxanthin intake reduces the risk of developing a cortical cataract by 30%.
The American Optometric Association recommends 2 mg/day for zeaxanthin and 10 mg/day of lutein. For each 10 percent increase in dietary zeaxanthin and lutein, serum levels are seen to enhance by percent.