Lutein and zeaxanthin, are naturally occurring compounds known as xanthophylls, which are yellow pigments found in many plants and vegetables. Xanthophylls are in a class of nutrients called carotenoids. Food sources of lutein and zeaxanthin include dark-green leafy vegetables, fruit, and egg yolks. They may also be taken as supplements. Lutein and zeaxanthin may be helpful for many health conditions, such as macular degeneration and cataracts. A doctor should be consulted before taking any lutein and zeaxanthin supplements.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in high concentrations in the macula of the eye and give it its yellow color. The macula is the part of the eye responsible for central sharp vision, which is necessary for driving and reading. Lutein and zeaxanthin have antioxidant properties and thus help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
According to All About Vision, age-related macular degeneration, commonly called ARMD, is the leading cause of vision loss in America in people age 65 and higher. ARMD is caused by the deterioration of the macula. In a study published in a 1994 issue of the “Journal of the American Medical Association,” researchers studied the effect of dietary carotenoids, vitamin A, C and E on advanced age-related macular degeneration. The authors found that a diet high in carotenoids was associated with a low risk for the disease. The research team commented that among the specific carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin were most strongly associated with a reduced risk for age-related macular degeneration.