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    Lutein, zeaxanthin assist in visual function both early, later in life

    Research finds benefits for AMD prevention, and they may improve infant visual performance

    Salt Lake City—The macular pigment carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin are well known within ocular nutrition for their role in protecting against age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

    However, their power to assist with visual function may go beyond just AMD, said Paul S. Bernstein, MD, PhD, Mary Boesche Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, John A. Moran Eye Center, University of Utah, Salt Lake City.

    Lutein and zeaxanthin are two of 600 carotenoids found in nature. However, there are only 50 that humans consume, and just 10 to 15 that are absorbed, Dr. Bernstein said.

    “Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only two carotenoids found in the retina itself,” he said.

    Lutein is found in dark green and leafy vegetables like kale and spinach as well as in egg yolks. Zeaxanthin is found in orange and yellow fruits and vegetables like corn and orange peppers as well as in egg yolks.

    The value of lutein and zeaxanthin in the quest to protect against AMD led Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) researchers to test the addition of 10 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin to the original AREDS formula as a substitute for beta carotene.1

    It was thought that the two carotenoids would be safe and effective substitutes for beta carotene, Dr. Bernstein said, referring to concerns of putting users, particularly smokers, at higher risk for lung cancer from the high beta carotene concentration in the original AREDS supplement.

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