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Study Says Carotenoids May Boost Macular Pigment, Improve Eye Health

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. A recent study suggests that supplementation with the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin may help improve eye health by boosting macular pigment optical density.


For their analysis, the researchers started with 2,456 potential publications that included the terms xanthophyll carotenoids, lutein zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin. They reviewed the abstracts and filtered out duplicate publications, which left them with 133 articles for review. After omitting studies that did not have a control group or information about the standard deviations, they were left with 20 randomized, controlled trials that included 938 patients with age-related macular degeneration and 826 healthy patients,.


The researchers examined the effects of xanthophyll carotenoid supplementation on the amount of macular pigment in the macula and found that it was associated with improved macular pigment optical density in both patients with age-related macular degeneration and those without it.


Additionally, the researchers found that including meso-zeaxanthin in the supplement led to a greater increase in macular pigment compared to supplements that did not contain meso-zeaxanthin.


Researchers from Xi’an Jiaotong University College of Medicine and Beijing Friendship Hospital, both in China, conducted the study. It was published in the July 2016 issue of Nutrients.


Lutein and zeaxanthin are both xanthophyll carotenoids. They are also the only two carotenoids that can build macular pigment. You can increase your lutein and zeaxanthin levels by consuming more green leafy vegetables, corn, and egg yolk.

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