Lutein and zeaxanthin are the dominant pigments in the retina. It is postulated that they filter out harmful blue light rays from the rays that reach the retina. Other light, notably ultraviolet light, is filtered out by the cornea and lens. A retina dense with lutein and zeaxanthin can better handle this task. The results of supplementation and consumption of more lutein and zeaxanthin is enhanced visual sensitivity, sharper color vision, less eye fatigue and strain, better contrast, and better night vision.
Research on lutein and zeaxanthin
Many studies have been done in an attempt to show the relationship between the consumption of lutein and zeaxanthin and the development of macular degeneration. The most conclusive thing that has been proven is that there is a direct correlation between eating luteinrich foods and macular health. One study looked at the past dietary habits of people who ate a lot food containing lutein and zeaxanthin as well as those who did not and attempted to determine the impact of the diets of each group on the development of ARMD. The outcome of this study was most interesting. It determined that individuals who had a history of consuming lots of foods with lutein and zeaxanthin reduced their likelihood of developing ARMD by 86%.
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The second study divided a large group of people into two groups and gave each group a different diet. The first group ate a lot of foods with lutein and zeaxanthin, and the second group at very little of those foods. This study was used to measure whether eating foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin produced elevated levels of these carotenoids in their bloodstream. It did.
It was also demonstrated that people who ate the lutein-rich diet had a measurably thicker macula.
A report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that adults who consume the equivalent of five servings of spinach per week reduce their risk of developing macular degeneration by 57%. How does this affect those who already have the condition? Although we cannot answer this for certain, it seems reasonable to assume that these nutrients have a huge impact on the health and functioning of the retina. Therefore, it seems prudent to add them in quantity to your diet.
Following are four statements that can be made about the relationship between dietary lutein and zeaxanthin and macular degeneration:
1. Eating foods with lutein and zeaxanthin increases the amount of lutein and zeaxanthin available to the body.
2. Eating foods with lutein and zeaxanthin thickens macular pigment.
3. An increase in macular pigment reduces the risk of ARMD.
4. Eating foods with lutein and zeaxanthin reduces the chance of developing ARMD.