The Many Benefits of Lutein

luteinLutein is thought to act as a light filter protecting eye tissues from damage from the sun.  It is sometimes referred to as the eye vitamin.  Lutein is a carotenoid and is related to Vitamin A.  The human eye’s retina accumulates lutein and this may act to protect the retina from damage.  It may also reduce the risk of developing cataracts or age related macular degeneration.

Lutein is synthesized by plants and is obtained by animals from the plants.  Lutein is found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach,  kale, Swiss chard, turnip greens, watercress, romaine lettuce, endive  and in carrots, grapes, orange juice, squash, zucchini, corn, red peppers, scallions, green peas, brussel sprouts, celery  and kiwi fruit.

Lutein is also found in egg yolks and animal fats.  In fact, egg yolks are an excellent source of lutein.  It adds color to the egg yolk and causes the yellow skin and fat of the chicken.  Lutein is included in chicken feed for that purpose.

A small amount of lutein is contained in many multi vitamins.

Lutein acts as an antioxidant to reduce damages done by free radicals.  It improves skin elasticity and hydration and may protect skin from dangerous UV rays.  Lutein is also thought to be useful in preventing colon cancer, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.  A high level of lutein and other antioxidants in blood aids in promoting healthier blood vessels.  Benefits to the heart and blood vessels is probably more effective if the lutein is received from fruits and vegetables and not supplements.  Supplements may be helpful in protecting vision.  Supplements can be purchased in supermarkets, pharmacies, health food stores or online.

Presently there is no recommended daily allowance for lutein.  However,  positive effects have been realized with 6 to 10 mg per day.

As always consult your health care professional before starting any supplement.