Preventing Macular Degeneration
As each of us gets older, the faculty that most notably deteriorates is our vision. One optical problem receiving increasing attention today is "macular degeneration," an eye disease affecting the central part of the retina. Recent research suggests that carotenoids, particularly Lutein and Zeaxanthin, seem to reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration. You might also enjoy a similar article (called Second Sight) which discusses the impact antioxidants and carotenoids have on preventing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
A New Look at Eye Health
The eyes have it—zeathanthin and lutein, two carotenoids shown to protect the retina from macular degeneration. Nutritional therapies ranging from vitamins C and E to inositol, omega-3 fats, and sulfur-rich foods can minimize two other primary visual conditions, cataracts and glaucoma.
Lutein receives GRAS Status
The discovery of lutein is one of the major breakthroughs in the recent history of medical sciences. This carotenoid, a naturally occurring yellow pigment widely distributed in fruits, vegetables, egg yolk and the human macular pigment in the eye, is gaining recognition as an effective antioxidant. The benefits for vision health associated with lutein, particularly in preventing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts, have led to extensive research in this direction.
Lutein: The Eyes Have It
Lutein is an eye-opening carotenoid you'll be seeing more of in antioxidant formulas. Some major national multivitamin brands now include this antioxidant because research indicates lutein may help maintain eye health. Lutein appears to prevent free radical damage in the macula and retina, two lutein-rich and highly oxidant-sensitive areas susceptible to age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) and cataracts.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin Make Macular Pigment
The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, found in foods such as kale and spinach and not synthesized by the body, protect against macular degeneration. A new two-part study by researchers at Florida International University in Miami found higher dietary intake of these carotenoids resulted in higher serum concentrations, which resulted in greater macular pigment, a retina protectant. Researchers first measured diet and serum carotenoids of 19 men and women between age 18 and 60. Using photometry, they determined the optical density of their macular pigments. There was a direct correlation between dietary intake of lutein and zeaxanthin and the density of the macular pigments.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin Monograph
Alternative Medicine Review 2005 (Jun); 10 (2): 128–135 ~ FULL TEXT
Lutein and Zeaxanthin belong to the zanthophyll family of carotenoids and are the two major components of the macular pigment of the retina. The macula lutea, or "yellow spot" in the retina is responsible for central vision and visual acuity. 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. In addition to playing pivotal roles in ocular health, Lutein and Zeaxanthin are important nutrients in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and lung cancer.
Serum Alpha-tocopherol and Subsequent Risk of Lung Cancer Among Male Smokers
J Natl Cancer Inst 1999 (Oct 20); 91 (20): 1738-1743
In the ATBC Study cohort, higher serum alpha-tocopherol status is associated with lower lung cancer risk; this relationship appears stronger among younger persons and among those with less cumulative smoke exposure. These findings suggest that high levels of alpha-tocopherol, if present during the early critical stages of tumorigenesis, may inhibit lung cancer development.
Bioavailability of Lutein From Vegetables is 5 Times Higher Than That of Beta-carotene
Am J Clin Nutr 1999 (Aug); 70 (2): 261–268
Plasma concentrations of vitamin C and carotenoids (ie, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta- cryptoxanthin) were significantly higher after the high-vegetable diet than after the low-vegetable diet.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin Concentrations in Plasma After Dietary Supplementation with Egg Yolk
Am J Clin Nutr 1999 (Aug); 70 (2): 247–251
Egg yolk is a highly bioavailable source of lutein and zeaxanthin. The benefit of introducing these carotenoids into the diet with egg yolk is counterbalanced by
potential LDL-cholesterol elevation from the added dietary cholesterol.
Dietary Prevention of Age-related Macular Degeneration
J Am Optom Assoc 1999 (Jan); 70 (1): 39–47
Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 65, and the prevalence of ARMD is expected to increase as the population ages. Although the incidence of ARMD increases sharply with age, recent studies indicate that prevention measures and dietary changes, implemented early in life, can reduce an individual's risk of ARMD.
Dietary Carotenoids and Vitamins A, C, and E and Risk of Breast Cancer
J Natl Cancer Inst 1999 (Mar); 91 (6): 547–556
Intakes of beta-carotene from food and supplements, lutein/zeaxanthin, and vitamin A from foods were weakly inversely associated with breast cancer risk in premenopausal women. Strong inverse associations were found for increasing quintiles of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein/zeaxanthin, total vitamin C from foods, and total vitamin A among premenopausal women with a positive family history of breast cancer.
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