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Lutein and macular degeneration

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Joined: 01 Sep 2009
Location: N. Ireland
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    Posted: 10 Apr 2017 at 11:15pm
Thanks to Sandra for a series of Emails about recommending good food sources of lutein and whether there is any evidence to suggest that increasing lutein intake can help ward off macular degeneration or slow it down if it has developed.

Over the last few years there have been several Emails about this subject and I have now decided to provide some limited information on lutein in food.

Macular degeneration is a major cause of blindness and anything that will prevent it or slow its development down is of interest.

The macula contains a number of carotenoid pigments, also referred to as xanthophylls, namely lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin. These compounds have the same molecular weight and are isomers.

The data for the concentration of individual xanthophylls in foods is limited. Most of the major databases list information on the combined lutein and zeaxanthin concentration. The limited data for the individual compounds indicate that leafy vegetables e.g. kale, spinach are rich sources of lutein where corn and corn products were found to be major sources of dietary zeaxanthin.

I have decided to write a brief article, and to include a spreadsheet or database, that browsers can use to calculate their daily combined lutein and zeaxanthin intake. 

After having a look at the data for the UK on nutrient intakes it is clear that for most people intakes of these compounds are low. Much lower, than the 10 mg recommended by some researchers working on macular health.

When the article is ready I will post a link here. In the short term I will include a link to a spreadsheet detailing the combined lutein and zeaxanthin concentration in vegetables and eggs.  

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