Lutein and its isomer, zeaxanthin, belong to the group of carotenoids. It gives a yellow color to fruits and vegetables like manga, papaya, corn and tomatoes. Lutein is also in dark green vegetables (cababge, spinach and green beans). Broccoli, almonds, peas, lettuce and some types of green salad are also good sources are this substance. The greenish the plant is, the more lutein it contains; there is more lutein in raw than in the cooked vegetables.
In the United Kingdom, people take 1 to 3 mg of lutein on average per day. Although there are no official recommended daily intake values, most researchers believe this might be about 6 mg.
How does it work?
Lutein is an antioxidant. This means that it can undo the action of harmful free radicals that enter the organism. Free radicals are the result of pollution, radiation, fried and burned food, sunlight and burns. They damage the cells and accelerate aging. It has been thought that all antioxidants have the same effect, but today there is more and more evidence that they are specialized in acting.
It is believed that lutein is important for a healthy vision because it is the main pigment located in the central part of the eye retina – in a yellow spot. That is the point of the clearest vision. As we age, retina cells that contain pigments are weaker and the retinal degeneration occurs, which is manifested by the gradual loss of vision. This process is called macular degeneration.
One of the causes of this condition is the damage caused by the action of free radicals of sunlight. Lutein can act as an optical filter that cancels the action of free radicals and thus protects the retina. Lutein can also help immune system.
MAIN USEFUL EFFECTS: research has shown that a decreased amount of lutein in diet and blood is associated with increased risk of macular degeneration. Nonetheless, there is no evidence to suggest that increased lutein intake protects against or helps with its treatment; only a few (small) studies have shown encouraging results. In the United States, it has recently been shown that, in the early stages of macular degeneration, lutein may have a beneficial effect on retinal function. In the journal Optometry there was an article, according to which, using 10 mg of lutein (alone or in combination with other antioxidants) in the course of 12 months improved vision on 90 patients with atrophic macular degeneration.
The study of the role of lutein in preventing stomach pain did not give encouraging results, but it turned out that this substance improved visual acuity and light sensitivity in the patients. And without recent research, it is certainly important to consume green vegetables, which contain a lot of lutein. If you do not eat fresh vegetables, you may have a deficiency of these important substances.
ADDITIONAL USEFUL EFFECTS: large amounts of lutein in the diet are associated with reduced risk of developing cancer, especially cervical, ovarian and breast cancer. In the United States, it has been shown that taking 7.3 mg of lutein per day reduces the risk of 70% cervical cancer. In a group of women who took 24 mg of lutein per week, the risk of developing ovarian cancer was 40% lower than those who only took 3.8 mg. Another study found that 7,126 mg of lutein compared with the daily dose of 3,652 mg reduces the risk of developing breast cancer by 53%.
How to take it?
DOSAGE: For eye health: take 6 mg of lutein per day (if you do not consume dark green leafy vegetables). Nutritional supplements containing this amount of lutein can easily be found on the market. For prevention: to reduce the risk of eye diseases (such as macular degeneration), take 6 to 15 mg of lutein per day.
USE GUIDELINES: lutein is taken with food in a single daily dose. It works slowly and results can only be seen after six months to two years after the start of use.
Possible side effects
No side effects were observed even after long-time use of lutein. It seems that taking lutein with other drugs is completely safe.
IMPORTANT: if you are ill, consult your doctor before taking any supplements.