Published: 11/04/2014 - Updated: 05/18/2018
Author: MSc. Miriam Reyes
Lutein is a chemical compound that belongs to the group of xanthophylls. It is a yellow pigment in the carotenoid family and is found in plants, seaweed, and photosynthetic bacteria. It is used as an additive in commercial food treatment.
Properties and uses of lutein in health
- It is a powerful antioxidant, which is why it helps to slow cellular and tissue deterioration and oxidization. It protects the body from free radical attacks, which is why it is used in several therapeutic treatments.
- Along with zeaxanthin, it is found in the macula in the eye. It is related to this type of degeneration. Optimum consumption has an effect that improves vision and prevents the progression of cataracts. Its antioxidant effect protects the external part of the retina, rich in polyunsaturated acids that are attacked by free radicals and experience a deterioration or oxidization process because of the light in the area. Because lutein is a good sun filter, it protects sight from some of the harmful effects of sunlight.
- It is also considered a filter for skin from high frequency light (blue).
- Because it is one of the most potent carotenoids, it is important in preventing tumor and cancerous processes, even though we should point out that cancer treatment depend on several other factors.
- Helps improve and strengthen the immune system and cellular communication, which is why it helps maintain nervous system health and good functioning. It also prevents and treats illnesses related to this system.
- It has been proven that individuals who have a diet rich in lutein are less likely to suffer from colon and prostate cancer.
Where lutein is found
- Blueberries, oranges, sweet potatoes
- Egg yolk (contains 85% lutein)
- Corn (contains 60% lutein)
- Red peppers, leeks, tomatoes, parsley, celery, white potatoes, pumpkin flowers, spinach, cabbage, lettuce, broccoli (contains 20% lutein).
Other uses for lutein
- In can be used as an organic coloring agent for foods.
- Helps as an additive to grain-fed animal diet (helps egg yolk pigmentation).
- Used aquaculture (shellfish, salmon, etc.) medications and cosmetic products.
Interesting facts about lutein
- Some people do not absorb lutein well, like those that have blue eyes, smokers, and post-menopausal women.
- For therapeutic lutein supplementation, you must consult a healthcare professional for the proper dose, depending on each case.
- In order to better absorb lutein, you should take it with meals to improve absorption.
- Lutein is liposoluble, which means that absorption is lessened when ingesting vegetables without adding fat. Likewise, carotene absorption oscilates between 40 and 50%
Precautions and dosage for taking lutein
You should keep in mind that whenever using lutein supplements, the required amounts (approximately 6 mg a day) are quickly covered with a portion of spinach or ingesting one raw egg yolk. It is for this reason that excessive consumption of supplements could cause elevated lutein concentrations. Although this has not shown any toxicity, it does turn skin yellow (hypercarotenosis) because of the excessive un-absorbed lutein.
You should include salads and vegetable juices in your child’s diet for good vision development, and in adults to prevent vision loss and to prevent ocular diseases.
One portion of fresh salad with spinach, carrots, or other vegetables like broccoli or tomato, cover the daily required dosage. Remember to include health fats like fish or cold-pressed vegetable oils for correct absorption.
Revised by: Dra. Loredana Lunadei on 05/18/2018
About the author