Lutein May Decrease Your Risk of Macular Degeneration
by George Torrey, Ph.D.
Lutein is the dominant component in the peripheral retina.
Dr. Johanna M. Seddon and associates at Harvard University found that 6 mg per day of lutein led to a 43% lower risk for macular degeneration (1). Lutein supplements are available in soft-gel capsule form. They should be taken at mealtime because lutein is absorbed better when ingested with a small amount of fat, such as olive oil. The recommended dosage is 6 mg to 30 mg daily.
The following chart shows those foods that contain high amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin. Zeaxanthin is the dominant carotenoid in the central macula.
Click here for the printable chart of foods high in Lutein and Zeaxanthin.
Dr. Seddon concludes that increasing the consumption of foods rich in lutein may decrease the risk of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In his book Overcoming Macular Degeneration, Dr. Yale Solomon writes that lutein is particularly important because it is absorbed from the above foods and transported in relatively large quantities to the macula and the lens of the eye. In each of these areas it has a specific, helpful antioxidant action. Lutein may lower the risk of developing AMD and even cataracts, and might prevent advancement in people who are mildly to moderately impaired with these eye diseases.
According to Billy Hammond (2), studies have suggested that individuals differ in their ability to absorb nutrients from food into their tissues. Some individuals can have a relatively high intake of fruits and vegetables, and high nutrient blood levels, but low levels of retinal nutrients. The ability to measure macular pigment in the living organism may allow doctors to identify such individuals and determine whether they are at special risk for disease. Mr. Hammond writes, “In the future we may be able to use such technology to tailor our dietary recommendations based on individual responses rather than relying on averaged effects.”
The information on nutrition is important information for everyone – not just those already diagnosed with macular degeneration. The AMDF encourages everyone, including younger people, to follow these nutritional guidelines so that they may reduce their risk of developing macular degeneration.
For more information on lutein, see the Lutein Information Bureau site and the results of The Lutein Antioxidant Supplementation Trial (LAST).
George Torrey, Ph.D., a graduate of Brown (‘61), Harvard (‘62) and the Univ. of Connecticut (‘68), writes for the AMDF Newsletter and the AMDF Web site. Both his parents suffered from macular degeneration.
1. Johanna M. Seddon et al, 1994, Journal of American Medical Association 272:1413-20.
2. Co-author of an article in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science (Feb. 1998, Vol. 39, No. 2).