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Lutein and Zeaxanthin May Reduce Symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an affliction that causes people to lose eye sight as they age. A recent study suggests that consuming more lutein and zeaxanthin - the important carotenoids found in bright red, orange, or yellow fruits and vegetables - may improve retinal function in people suffering from AMD.

Participants in the study included 108 adults diagnosed with AMD and 36 adults of similar age without AMD. For 48 weeks, they took one of the following:

• 10 mg of lutein

• 20 mg of lutein

• 10 mg of lutein plus 10 my mg of zeaxanthin

• a placebo

The researchers measured eye responses and macular pigment densities of all of the participants at the onset of the study, at 24 weeks, and again at 48 weeks. They found that the 20 mg lutein group and the lutein and zeaxanthin group showed improved macular density at the conclusion of the study.

The researchers concluded that supplementation of lutein and zeaxanthin may help improve the degenerative effects of AMD on patients with diagnoses of the illness.

The findings were published online ahead of print on July 24, 2012, in the American Journal of Ophthalmology. The researchers were based at the School of Public Health of Peking University in Beijing.

This study adds to the growing body of research showing that these important nutrients are essential for eye health. Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only carotenoids able to build macular pigment.

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

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