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Lutein and Zeaxanthin May Help Eye Health Of Young People

The connection between the nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin and eye health was first discovered in 1994, when Harvard researchers found that eating more carotenoid-rich foods was associated with a reduction in age-related macular degeneration. Most research since then has focused on AMD but a recent study suggests that consuming more lutein and zeaxanthin plus omega-3s may also help people with healthy eyes improve their visual reaction time.

Participants in the study included 64 young, healthy individuals who took part in one of three interventions daily for four months: a placebo, 20 mg of zeaxanthin, or 8 mg of lutein, 26 mg of zeaxanthin and 190 mg of omega-3s.

The researchers found that people who had higher macular pigment density - a biomarker of lutein and zeaxanthin levels - had better critical flicker fusion (CFF) and visual motor performance at baseline. CFF is the frequency at which a flickering light is indistinguishable from a steady, non-flickering light. CFF is used to measure acuteness or clearness of vision.

After four months of supplementation, the zeaxanthin and zeaxanthin/lutein/omega-3 groups had increased CFF of 12% and increased visual motor reaction time of 10% when compared with the placebo.

Researchers from The University of Georgia and Abbott Nutrition conducted the study. It was published on Septembter 24, 2014, in the journal PLOS One.

Lutein is one of only two carotenoids that can build macular pigment. The other is zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin create the yellow pigmentation of the macula, which is the part of the eye that provides protection from damaging blue light. If the yellow macular pigment is too thin, blue light can penetrate the retina and cause long-term damage.

You can increase your lutein and zeaxanthin levels by consuming more green leafy vegetables, corn, and egg yolk.

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