An Insider's Look at Lutein - Blog

An Insider's Look at Lutein - Blog

The eyes have it! Actually, the eyes need it!

Ever heard of lutein? Lutein provides nutritional support to our eyes and skin, the only organs of the body directly exposed to the outside environment. Lutein is often called the “eye vitamin.” However, your eyes aren’t the only part of your body that lutein assists. Lutein, a type of vitamin called a carotenoid, plays many roles in helping to keep your body healthy. Curly-haired woman wearing earrings, red sweater and blue blouse

Lutein is an important compound in the human body...

but our bodies don't manufacture lutein. That means we have to get these important nutrients from our diets or in supplements. Flowers and leaves of the nasturtium plant and the pot marigold are also rich sources of lutein; lutein as a commercial food additive is obtained from the petals of the marigold flower and can also be sourced from microalgae. (1)

Xanthophyll? What’s that?

Xanthophylls are a class of oxygen-containing carotenoid pigments, responsible for the color of many of the yellow, orange, and red hues of flowers, fruits, vegetables (corn, pepper, etc.), egg yolks, and feathers, shells, or flesh of many animal species (flamingo, canary, shrimp, lobster, chicken, or salmonids). In plants, they are involved in photosynthesis with chlorophyll and are responsible for the red, yellow, and/or brown colors of autumn foliage as the chlorophyll levels decline. (2)

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Zeaxanthin serves a purpose similar to lutein. Their names, lutein (the Latin ‘luteus’) and zeaxanthin (the Greek ‘xanthos’) both mean yellow and reflect their natural yellow color. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two important carotenoids, which are pigments produced by plants that give fruits and vegetables a yellow to reddish hue. They’re structurally very similar, with just a slight difference in the arrangement of their atoms. (3) There are more than 600 different types of carotenoids found in nature, but only about 20 make their way into your eyes. Of those 20, zeaxanthin and lutein are the only two that are deposited in high quantities into the macular portion of the eyes.

Bright orange flowers on brown wood background


As a carotenoid, lutein is often discussed as an antioxidant, meaning that it can slow down or prevent the effects of free radicals. By preventing chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, lutein may also help stop the appearance of chronic disease. 



Lutein is considered to help provide the following benefits:

•    Reduced risk of vision disorders
The highest concentration of this antioxidant is found in the retina, and it is well known that it can help to prevent macular degeneration, which is one of the major causes of blindness as we age. Furthermore, lutein may stave off the onset of cataracts, helping you keep your vision in good shape for longer. Lutein and zeaxanthin also work to protect your eyes from free radical damage. Your eyes are exposed to both oxygen and light, which in turn promote the production of harmful oxygen free radicals. Lutein and zeaxanthin cancel out these free radicals, so they’re no longer able to damage your eye cells.

•    Helping protect skin health
With its antioxidant properties, lutein can help the body seek out and neutralize free radicals before they can do damage, including to your skin to the skin.  Lutein and zeaxanthin work as supportive antioxidants in your skin. They can protect it from sun damage and may help improve skin tone and slow aging.

Chemical formula of Lutein on orange background

•    Improving cardiovascular health
Having proper amounts of this antioxidant in the body is connected to lower cholesterol levels and a decreased risk of congestive heart failure, as it can help maintain the integrity of your blood vessels and arteries, and its anti-inflammatory properties help lower inflammation. Lutein may help protect against atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of fatty deposits in arteries.

•  Improving cognitive health
As with many other antioxidants, lutein can help to minimize chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, including in the neural pathways, which may prevent the development of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.

Recent research has discovered a third carotenoid in the macula. Called meso-zeaxanthin, this pigment is not found in food sources and appears to be created in the retina from ingested lutein. (4)


The American Optometric Association shares that there is a lot of evidence that lutein and zeaxanthin reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In fact, in the Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS and AREDS2), the National Eye Institute found that taking certain nutritional supplements every day reduces the risk of developing late AMD. Beyond reducing the risk of eye disease, separate studies have shown that lutein and zeaxanthin improve visual performance in AMD patients, cataract patients and people in good health. (5)

17 delicious food sources of lutein are:

•    Kale
•    Turnip Greens
•    Collard Greens
•    Spinach
•    Broccoli
•    Brussels sprouts
•    Oranges
•    Papaya
•    Corn
•    Green beans
•    Eggs
•    Grapes
•    Kiwi
•    Peppers
•    Peas
•    Cucumber
•    Carrots

As an FYI, fats improve the absorption of lutein and zeaxanthin, so add some butter or coconut oil to your lutein-filled dishes.


There's your insider's look at lutein. If you'd like to check out some products that contain lutein, please visit these links:

Optex by Dynamic Nutritional Associates
Clear Vision by Professional Botanicals
MultiMedica for Women by NuMedica
MultiMedica for Men by NuMedica

Many brightly colored tulips in green grass  









Note: The content of this article, and additional content on this website, are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking help because of something you read here on this website.

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