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Lutein and Zeaxanthin May Reduce the Risk of Cataracts

A large body of research suggests that the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin are important for reducing the risk of age related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 55. A new study conducted conducted on human eye cells suggests that these nutrients may also reduce the risk of cataracts.

The research was a joint study between Tufts University researchers and researchers at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China. Their findings were published on December 7, 2011, in the journal Molecular Vision.

Human eye cells were soaked in either lutein, zeaxanthin,, alpha-tocopherol or a placebo for 48 hours. The cells were then exposed to hydrogen peroxide for one hour.

Exposure to the hydrogen peroxide greatly increased levels of oxidized proteins, lipid peroxidation, and DNA damage. However, the cells that were first soaked in lutein, zeaxanthin and alpha-tocopherol showed reduced damage compared to the control cells.

Alpha-tocopherol is a form of vitamin E that has previously been shown to help maintain eye health. Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only carotenoids capable of builidng macular pigment.

If your diet is low in fruits and vegetables, or if you smoke cigarettes and regularly consume alcohol, you are at higher risk for developing cataracts. Consuming more green vegetables, corn, and egg yolk will increase your intake of lutein and zeaxanthin.

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