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Lutein and zeaxanthin quick review
Description: belong to the xanthophyll family of carotenoids and are the two major components of the macular pigment of the retina.
Health benefits: protect the eye and optic nerves, prevents age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cardiovascular disease, stroke, and lung cancer.

Sources & dosage: yellow/orange fruits and vegetables such as mango, papaya, peaches, prunes, acorn squash, winter squash, and oranges.
Lutein by Vitabase
Vitabase uses FloraGLO lutein extract in Lutein Plus, because it is the highest quality lutein on the market. FloraGLO brand Lutein is purified from marigold extract using patented processes so consumers can be certain supplements containing FloraGLO brand Lutein contain the same lutein found in nature. If you would like to protect your eye health and provide powerful antioxidant protection for your body, then Vitabase Lutein Plus is the answer for you. Click here for more information.

Lutein and zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin belong to the xanthophyll family of carotenoids and are the two major components of the macular pigment of the retina. They are natural fat-soluble yellowish pigments found in some plants, algae and photosynthetic bacteria. Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only carotenoids found in both the macula and lens of the human eye, and have dual functions in both tissues to act as powerful antioxidants and to filter high-energy blue light.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are chemically very closely related to each other; both have the exact same chemical formulae, differing only in their ring stereochemistry and the spatial placement of one end ring and the placement of a double bond in that end ring. Zeaxanthin is a stereoisomer of lutein, differing only in the location of a double bond in one of the hydroxyl groups. The hydroxyl groups appear to control the biological function of these two xanthophylls. Lutein and zeaxanthin are often found together and in esterified form in the same source, although the ratio of lutein to zeaxanthin varies substantially depending on the source.

In people, lutein and zeaxanthin make up most of the pigment in the center of the retina, the central part of the retina responsible for sharp and detailed vision. These two pigments absorb wavelengths in the high-energy spectrum, they may help protect retinal cells in the macula against "phototoxic" damage caused by short-wavelength high-energy light radiation.


Health benefits of lutein and zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin, which are naturally present in the macula of the human retina, filter out potentially phototoxic blue light and near-ultraviolet radiation from the macula. Lutein appears to have an affinity for the peripheral retina and rods, while zeaxanthin
seems to be preferentially taken up by the cones of the macula. Lutein is a powerful antioxidant believed to protect the eye and optic nerves, as a filter against damaging blue light and to prevent free radical damage to the delicate structures in the back of the eye. Lutein and zeaxanthin, more commonly referred to as macular pigments, may serve a variety of roles in the specialized vision of higher primates. Macular pigment could both improve optics and have a salubrious effect upon photoreceptor function (e.g., by increasing membrane stability). In addition to purely biological and/or protective effects, macular pigment could improve visual efficiency through a variety of optical mechanisms.

Macular degeneration is a medical term that applies to any of several disease syndromes which involve a gradual loss or impairment of eyesight due to cell and tissue degeneration of the yellow macular region in the center of the retina. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common form of this type of disease. Lutein serves important roles in vision to help filter ultraviolet wavelengths of light to prevent damage to the eye lens and macula. Lutein has been shown to have significant potential in the prevention of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of irreversible blindness among Americans age 65 and older. Lutein helps build macular pigment density, a critical factor in the health of the macula and the retina. Lutein acts as a natural sunshade, protecting the eye from too much light. Blue light, which has the shortest wavelength on the visible spectrum, is especially damaging to the eye and can cause photo-oxidation in the macula. This can lead to lipid peroxidation, which is toxic to the retina.

In addition to playing pivotal roles in ocular health, lutein and zeaxanthin are important nutrients for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and lung cancer. They may also be protective in skin conditions attributed to excessive ultraviolet (UV) light exposure. Lutein and zeaxanthin inhibit lipid peroxidation, a likely factor in the etiology of both retinal and cardiovascular disease. Lutein and zeaxanthin can inhibit thickening of the walls of carotid arteries and LDL-induced migration of monocytes to human artery cell walls. Skin exposure to UV rays generates reactive oxygen species, inflammation in skin cells, and erythema. Lutein and zeaxanthin may prevent cellular damage in these conditions by quenching singlet oxygen or neutralizing photosensitizers. Intake of dietary antioxidants, including lutein and zeaxanthin, reduces this inflammatory response, as carotenoids are poor absorbers of UV light.


Sources of lutein and zeaxanthin

Lutein can be found in the chromoplasts of flowers, fruits and roots (such as, but not limited to, carrots and yellow potatoes). Lutein is typically present in plant chromoplasts as long chain fatty esters, typically diesters, of acids such as palmitic and myristic acids, e.g. lutein dipalminate, lutein dimyristate and lutein monomyristate. Lutein and zeaxanthin is abundant in a number of yellow/orange fruits and vegetables such as mango, papaya, peaches, prunes, acorn squash, winter squash, and oranges. Egg yolks are the richest source and also contain a large amount of zeaxanthin. Although lutein and zeaxanthin may be obtained from certain fruits and vegetables, the isolation of lutein from extracts of marigold flowers and zeaxanthin from berries of Lycium Chinese Mill (LCM berries) proves to be most economical. In Marigold flowers lutein is the major carotenoid and is normally accompanied by about 3-6% zeaxanthin; in LCM berries zeaxanthin is the major carotenoid and is completely free from lutein. In both of these plants, lutein and zeaxanthin are esterified with fatty acids such as lauric, myristic, and palmitic acids.


Dosage and administration

While no recommended daily allowance currently exists for lutein as for other nutrients, positive effects have been seen at levels of 6 mg/day. Individuals who consumed between 6 mg and 12 mg of lutein per day in their diets were less likely to develop cataracts, macular degeneration, and colon cancer. Lutein, in supplemental form, should be taken with fat-containing food to improve absorption.