Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids. They are the naturally-occurring pigments with a special association with the macula of the eye.
Carotenoids are what gives many vegetables their vibrant colors and are what create the yellow color in your eye that the doctor can see when he examines the eyes with an ophthalmoscope. This means lutein is actually present in your eyes, and eating fruits and vegetables that contain carotenoids is a step in the right direction for preventing macular degeneration.
Reasons to Take Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Both lutein and zeaxanthin are thought to be essential for eye health. They do so by protecting your eye tissues from sun damage. These two antioxidants are found in many fruits and vegetables and in the eyes, particularly in the retina, lens and macula.
If you don't eat enough fruits and vegetables, you may not be getting enough of these important nutrients to protect your eyes from some age-related eye issues, such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Age-related macular degeneration is actually the leading cause of blindness in people over age 55.
These two antioxidants help fight oxidation of the lens in the eye that leads to cataracts. Lutein and zeaxanthin help maintain healthy eye cells, which mean you have better vision.
Lutein is also taken to help prevent colon and breast cancers. It is also used to treat type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Recommended Daily Allowance
There is not a recommended daily allowance for lutein and zeaxanthin, but studies show that adults, both male and female, can benefit from taking 10 milligrams a day of lutein and 2 milligrams a day of zeaxanthin. This dosage can help keep your eyes healthy and may prevent age-related eye disease or help treat age-related eye disease.
Usually a supplement of 6 to 12 milligrams of lutein and zeaxanthin a day is recommended for people with age-related macular degeneration. This is in addition to getting the recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables. You should take supplements with a meal that contains fat to makes sure it is absorbed properly.
What Happens If I Take Too Much?
Lutein and zeaxanthin are considered safe. Studies show you can take up to 15 milligrams daily and not have any adverse reactions.
Who's At Risk for Deficiency?
People who do not get their recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables are at risk for lutein and zeaxanthin deficiency. People who have intestinal issues and cannot properly absorb nutrients from food they eat can also become deficient.
Natural Food Sources of Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Most people can the amount of lutein and zeaxanthin they need from their diet. If they are eating plenty of fruits and vegetables that include:
• Orange juice
• Orange peppers
You need to eat five or more serving of fruits and vegetables daily to ensure you're getting these nutrients. If you know you're not getting enough of these foods, you can safely take a lutein and zeaxanthin supplement to keep your eye healthy.