Lutein and Zeaxanthin for Brain and Eyes
Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
Research at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, shows that the carotenes lutein and zeaxanthin may be beneficial to maintain cognitive health. Lutein and zeaxanthin are best known for their ability to accumulate in the retina of your eye, and protect it against macular degeneration.
Research shows that the levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in the macular pigment directly predict brain levels of these carotenes; the amount of density of these carotenes in the macular pigment predicts cognitive function in healthy older adults.
A brain tissue analysis of decedents from a population based study in centenarians found that zeaxanthin concentrations were significantly related to that individual’s prior cognitive function, memory, verbal fluency, and the lack of dementia. Lutein was related to recall and verbal fluency.
A four month, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in older women that involved lutein supplementation (12 mg/d) alone, or in combination with DHA (800 mg/d). Researched found that verbal fluency scores improved significantly in the DHA, lutein, and combined treatment groups. Memory scores and rate of learning improved significantly in the combined treatment group, who also showed a trend toward more efficient learning.
It is now clear that the carotenes lutein and zeaxanthin are another helpful brain food. They work synergistically with DHA to bolster brain health. All three nutrients are great for eye health as well.
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