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Meso-Zeaxanthin Essential for Full Eye Health Benefits

Previous studies have shown that supplementation with a combination of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin is associated with a reduced risk of age related macular degeneration (AMD), an affliction that causes blindness as the pigments in the eye decrease with age. A recent study suggests, however, that the carotenoid meso-zeaxanthin must also be added in order to get the positive eye health benefits of lutein and zeaxanthin.

Meso-zeaxanthin is the dominant carotenoid found within the macula. It generates the most extensive filtration of blue light.

The research was conducted at the Macular Pigment Research Group at the Waterford Institute of Technology. It was published in the August 2012 issue of Experimental Eye Research.

Participants in the study included 31 adults with atypical macular pigment profiles. Over the course of 8 weeks, the participants undertook one of three different daily interventions:

1. 20 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin

2. 10 mg of meso-zeaxanthin, 10 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin

3. 17 mg of meso-zeaxanthin, 3 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin

At the conclusion of the study, both group 2 and group 3 showed increased macular pigment distributions, but no significant change was noted in the first group. This suggests that meso-zeaxanthin must be present along with lutein and zeaxanthin.

As we age, levels of the pigments in the macula decrease naturally. A thin macular pigment can allow harmful blue light to damage the cells in the eyes, rods and cones, eventually progressing to AMD.

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

You are at a higher risk of developing AMD if your diet is low in fruits and vegetables, if you smoke cigarettes or if you regularly consume alcohol. Consuming more green vegetables, corn, egg yolk and rainbow trout will increase your intake of lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin.

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