Lutein has been making the rounds in the health world as of late, as it’s been said to promote eye, skin, and general health. But what is it?
Lutein is a carotenoid, or a red, yellow, and orange pigment, which gives color to fruits and vegetables (and some other foods, like egg yolk). Lutein is naturally-occurring in the human body, and forms the pigment of the retina and human macula.
According to the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, lutein has been largely shown to promote eye health, especially as it regards to macular degeneration and cataract formation. Some research also suggests that lutein plays a role in reducing overall visual impairment, according to the journal Molecules.
Newer research has also found that lutein supplementation can help reduce vision fatigue often caused by the blue light of digital screens (hello, iPhone!), according to the journal Applied Ergonomics. Lutein does this by filtering the harmful effects of high-energy blue wavelengths of light (like from screens) to help protect and maintain healthy cells in the eyes, according to the American Optometric Association,
How To Add Lutein To Your Diet
The body does not synthesize lutein at all, so it’s important to get more. While there is no official recommended daily intake for lutein, the American Macular Degeneration Foundation suggests getting six mg of dietary lutein per day, as it has been shown to lessen the chance of macular degeneration by 43 percent. (Other research suggests 20 mg.)
Eating lutein-rich foods (broccoli, zucchini, peas, Brussel sprouts, squash, corn, beet greens, romaine, asparagus, and carrots) is a great way to get more lutein, but supplementation—especially if you are at risk for age-associated eye problems—can help fill in the gaps for what may be lacking in your daily diet.
Lutein is available in tablets, soft gels, and capsules. To double down on the benefits, you might also consider a lutein supplement that includes zeaxanthin, since these are two carotenoids that work together to promote eye health.