A study published in the December 2006 issue of Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science has found that lutein supplementation may be an easy way to increase blood levels of lutein and help maintain eye health.
Lutein’s role in vision health started to gain attention in 1994 when a study by the National Eye Institute found that consumption of foods rich in carotenoids, particularly green, leafy vegetables was associated with a reduced risk of developing Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), currently the leading cause of irreversible blindness. Subsequent research in mice using a 20% solution and 7.6 grams of lutein per day both found that lutein improves eye health.
In the study, 45 patients with or without AMD were given 2.5, 5, and 10 mg per day of lutein (with 5% zeaxanthin) for 6 months and followed for another 6 months after supplementation stopped. They found that after six months of supplementation with 10 mg per day of lutein, blood levels increased nearly 500% (from 210 to 1,000 nanomoles per liter) for lutein and 59% for zeaxanthin (from 56 to 95 nM/L). What’s more, there were no reported side effects or apparent toxicity, and blood levels of both lutein and zeaxanthin declined in the six months after supplementation ended.
The researchers concluded, “Elderly human subjects with and without AMD can safely take supplements of lutein up to 10 mg per day for 6 months with no apparent toxicity or side effects.”
Thompson DJS. The Effect of Lutein and Zeaxanthin Supplementation on Metabolites of These Carotenoids in the Serum of Persons Aged 60 or Older. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2006 Dec; 47: 5234-5242.