What is Lutein and How Can I Get It?
Lutein is a pigment found in fruits and vegetables and responsible for giving a yellow or orange color. It is a carotenoid, which puts it in a group of over 600 pigments which are currently being studied for their health benefits. Obviously, lutein is found in many yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, even red ones, but it is interesting to know that many dark green vegetables also contain high quantities of lutein.
Lutein also has an isomer, a compound with the same chemical formula, but a slightly different molecular makeup, called zeaxanthin; also a carotenoid, which provides similar benefits. Though not a “vitamin”, lutein should be included in a good vitamin for eyes.
Some Great Sources of Lutein
The following foods all contain a good amount of lutein. The foods at the top contain the most and the foods at the bottom, the least.
- Turnip Greens
- Collard Greens
When we eat lutein, it becomes concentrated in the macula of the eye, part of the retina, where it helps protect the eye and acts as a filter from the blue light in the spectrum; the yellow pigment helps absorb the high energy blue light, protecting your eyes. Ongoing studies have shown that a diet rich in lutein can play a part in lowering the risk of developing cataracts. Lutein is also a great antioxidant and may provide benefits to heart health.
It has also been found that lutein is able to slow the progression of age related macular degeneration if you are already a sufferer. Lastly, it is possible that lutein may help improve vision, especially in cases of dealing with high glare or in conditions with low light.
Lutein Side Effects
Over consumption of lutein may result in a change in the color of the skin. A yellowing or bronzing affect might be noticed at very high dosages, well above the 10 mg per day most often recommended for eye health. Other than this, no RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) or safe upper limit have been set
If your diet does not contain the foods listed above, or you are worried about getting the proper levels each day, lutein supplements are available. This makes getting lutein each day quick and easy.