Lutein is a basic element to preserve a healthy sight. It lowers the risk of suffering from age related macular degeneration or crystalline lens opacity (cataracts) and it improves the dermis from the inside, enhancing its hydration and elasticity.
- 1 What is lutein?
- 2 Benefits of lutein
- 3 Sources of lutein, is the body capable of producing it?
- 4 Foods with lutein
- 5 Necessary dose of lutein for the organism
- 6 Lutein for sight
- 7 Properties of lutein to avoid macular degeneration
- 8 Lutein and zeaxanthin
- 9 Lutein and the skin
- 10 Lutein and the health of the cardiovascular system
- 11 Properties of lutein for the health of women and babies
- 12 Side effects of lutein
- 13 Sources
- 14 Related Entries:
What is lutein?
It is a natural antioxidant that supports the health of the sight and the dermis by delaying their deterioration and aging.
It is a yellow pigment that belongs to the carotenoid family. Carotenoids are substances that are responsible for the color of plants and they have antioxidant properties. Some of the foods that contain these elements are egg yolks, fruit and plants or vegetables of a dark green pigment, (spinach and cabbage).
Benefits of lutein
Lutein improves the state of the eyes and skin, the only organs of the body which are directly connected with the outside.
It is an antioxidant that reduces and eliminates the harmful effects of the free radicals. These elements can damage the organism and trigger several chronic diseases.
Lutein is a substance that filters the ultraviolet spectrum of sunlight. These wavelengths are dangerous since they can damage the organs due to oxidative stress. the clinical research has proven that, along with zeaxanthin, it buffers the intensity of the wavelengths that are responsible for damaging the retina up to a 90%.
Therefore, it helps to prevent the oxidative damage to the retina and it encourages a good state of our sight.
Sources of lutein, is the body capable of producing it?
No, it is not. Even though it is an essential substances for the human body, it cannot produce it on its own.
The only way to provide this nutrient to the organism is by consuming foods or specific dietary supplements that contain it.
This substance is mainly located in the eyes, blood, dermis, uterine cervix, brain and breasts. Within the eye, it is especially concentrated on the macular area of the retina and smaller amounts can also be found in the rest of the retina, iris and lens.
Foods with lutein
Necessary dose of lutein for the organism
We should take between 6-10mg daily. The research has proven that it is necessary to take this daily dose for the health of the eyes and dermis.
This is why it is advisable to eat vegetables with dark green leaves or to take dietary supplements. Even those who follow a balanced diet would not be able to eat a big dish of spinach with 6 to 10mg on a daily basis.
On top of this, there are many people who do not eat the necessary amount of fruit and vegetables, which is why it is really difficult to obtain a proper supply of this substances only through food.
Free lutein and lutein esters
- Free lutein is naturally present in vegetables and plants with green leaves and it is obtained from the food we eat
- Lutein esters are a natural extract that is added to certain foods
Lutein for sight
The studies have proven that this substance lowers the risk of suffering age related macular degeneration (AMD)
A 2016 study conducted in old patients who suffered macular degeneration proved that taking 10mg of lutein daily improved their sight.
Moreover, there was more researched carried out in 2016 that point to the fact that this substance lowers the chances of suffering cataracts.
What is macular degeneration AMD?
It is a degenerative disease. It is the main cause of sight loss in people older than 65. This disease seems to produce a macula lutea, also called yellow spot, in the most acute point of vision of the retina.
It happens when the cells of the retina degenerate the macula, which leads to the loss of sight in the center of the retina. The peripheral vision is not affected by this.
Dry or atrophic macular degeneration
Dry macular degeneration happens in a 90% of the cases due to little yellow spots, called drusen, which appear behind the macula.
These yellow spots are caused by metabolic waste deposits and the alteration of the movement of the choroid. It can lead to blindness in a 5-10% of the cases. It causes the cell death of the pigment epithelium of the retina and leads to a serious loss of visual acuity in the remaining cases.
If it is not treated, it can cause wet macular degeneration in a 15% of the cases. A study carried out in 2016 proved that lutein dietary supplements had a positive effect on the sight of those who suffered dry macular degeneration.
Wet macular degeneration
Wet macular degeneration is the result of a bad metabolic state of the blood vessels of the retina due to underlying choroids. This can cause a retinal detachment
This pathology is faster than the dry macular degeneration. A typical symptom of wet macular degeneration is a distorted perception of things. For example, if the edges of an object are straight we will perceive them as slightly inclined.
Properties of lutein to avoid macular degeneration
This substance is obtained from the diet and absorbed by the eye macula. Due to its properties, it filters the harmful ultraviolet wavelengths and protects the macula against the damage of the free radicals.
A healthy macula provides a good central vision. The macula deteriorates when it is exposed to the harmful factors of the light for years, which ends up causing age related macular degeneration (AMD).
Apart from eating enough fruit and vegetables, we suggest taking a dietary supplement of this substance to prevent and lower the risk of suffering macular degeneration AMD. There are many people who do not eat enough fruit and vegetables daily, which is why dietary supplements are the safest way of taking the necessary daily amount that the body needs.
Those who suffer a higher risk
There are several factors that increase the risk of suffering macular degeneration:
- Bad diet
- Excessive exposure of the eyes to sunlight
- Sex, race, eye color
- Heart diseases
Tips to avoid macular degeneration:
- Stop smoking
- Use sunglasses and hats to protect the sight against direct sunlight
- Eat a lot of fruit and vegetables with dark green leaves, since they contain lutein
- Add a lutein supplement to your diet
- Limit the consumption of alcohol and saturated fats and lower your cholesterol levels
Lutein and zeaxanthin
A study from 2016 conducted on adults between 43-84 years of age proved that the combined intake of lutein and zeaxanthin can lower the onset cataracts.
Cataracts are mainly caused by the crystalline lens opacity and they are usually associated with aging. Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only carotenoids present in the eye lens.
- A clinical study carried on 77 patients between 45 and 71 years of age proved that those who were given more lutein and zeaxanthin had a 22% less chances of suffering cataracts than those who did not take these nutrients
- The study also reported that a high consumption of spinach and cabbage (which are rich in lutein) can lower the risk of suffering cataracts
A similar study conducted on 36 men between the age of 45 and 75 showed that those who consumed more carotenoids (alpha carotene, beta carotene, lutein, beta cryptoxanthin, lycopene) and vitamin A had a 19% less chances of suffering cataracts when compared to those who took lower doses.
Lutein and the skin
The environmental factors cause damage in all the skin layers.
The ultraviolet wavelengths (UVB) only affect the external layers. However, those that have longer waves (UVA) reach both the external and internal levels.
Visible light can penetrate all the layers of the dermis and cause damage, deteriorating their natural antioxidant capacity to block the harmful effects of the free radicals.
The dermis, like the eyes, also has lutein naturally.
- A clinical study from 2016 proved that 10mg of lutein daily increases the hydration and elasticity of the dermis and reduces the lipid peroxidation
- Lipids are basic element to keep a healthy dermis. Lipids also work as a barrier that delays the loss of moisture from the dermis
- It was proven that the topical administration of lutein is beneficial for the dermis
- This effect is enhanced when it is combined with the oral intake of dietary supplements of this substance
Lutein and the health of the cardiovascular system
Carotenoids protect the heart. The epidemologic studies have shown that those who eat fruit and vegetables with green leaves have lower chances of suffering heart diseases or strokes.
Those who follow a Mediterranean diet have a lower rate of death caused by coronary diseases. After analyzing the ingredients, it was discovered that this is due to the fact that carotenoids from this diet have big amounts of lutein.
The authors of this study have suggested that the intake of lutein can lower the mortality rate of heart diseases. Even though we still do not know the exact mechanism about its connection with cardiovascular health, the researchers believe that this protective effect comes from its antioxidant properties.
- First of all, it was proven that it has benefits for the thickness of the carotid artery that is associated with the risk of suffering heart diseases or strokes
- There was a clinical experiment in which some endothelial cells from the muscle and the aortas were incubated with lutein. The researchers found out that it relieved the inflammation of the arteries
- Finally, the clinical studies conducted on mice with atherosclerosis injuries have shown that taking lutein supplements significantly reduces the size on the injuries in the aortic arch
Moreover, it also reduces the oxidative stress and the VLDL + IDL (very low density lipoprotein + intermediate density lipoprotein) in the blood plasma, lowering the onset and development of atherosclerosis.
Properties of lutein for the health of women and babies
This substances has a positive effect on the mammary tissue, uterine tissue and ovaries. Currently, there are studies about other possible properties for the body. Some of the include the benefits of this substance on pregnancy and lactation.
The clinical studies have shown that it increases the blood plasma levels during pregnancy, even we still do not know exactly why this happen.
This substance is present in the blood from the umbilical chord after birth and in colostrum. According to this, it is believed that it may also be found in breast milk.
Side effects of lutein
The only possible effects of lutein are caused by an excessive dose and they can be fixed by reducing the amount:
- Hypercarotenosis or yellow skin
- Allergy to carotenes
- Allore T, Lemieux S, Vohl MC, Couture P, Lamarche B, Couillard C. Correlates of the difference in plasma carotenoid concentrations between men and women. Br J Nutr. 2018 Nov 5:1-10. doi: 10.1017/S0007114518003045.
- Karakurt Y, Süleyman H, Keskin Cimen F, Tasli G, Ucak T, Icel E, Kurt N. The Effects of Lutein on Optic Nerve Injury Induced By Ethambutol and Isoniazid: An Experimental Study. Cutan Ocul Toxicol. 2018 Oct 26:1-13. doi: 10.1080/15569527.2018.1539010.
- Grčević M, Kralik Z, Kralik G, Galović O. Effects of dietary marigold extract on lutein content, yolk color and fatty acids profile of omega-3 eggs. J Sci Food Agric. 2018 Oct 16. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.9425.
- Chae SY, Park SY, Park G. Lutein protects human retinal pigment epithelial cells from oxidative stress‑induced cellular senescence. Mol Med Rep. 2018 Oct 8. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2018.9538.
- Bodoki E, Vostinaru O, Samoila O, Dinte E, Bodoki AE, Swetledge S, Astete CE, Sabliov CM. Topical nanodelivery system of lutein for the prevention of selenite-induced cataract. Nanomedicine. 2018 Oct 9;15(1):188-197. doi: 10.1016/j.nano.2018.09.016.
- Alvarado-Ramos KE, De Leon L, Fontes F, Rios-Castillo I. Dietary Consumption of Lutein and Zeaxanthin in Panama: A Cross-Sectional Study. Curr Dev Nutr. 2018 Aug 6;2(9):nzy064. doi: 10.1093/cdn/nzy064. eCollection 2018 Sep.
- Kumari N, Cher J, Chua E, Hamzah H, Wong TY, Cheung CY. Association of serum lutein and zeaxanthin with quantitative measures of retinal vascular parameters. PLoS One. 2018 Sep 27;13(9):e0203868. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0203868. eCollection 2018.
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