Lutein and Zeaxanthin: antioxidants for your eyes

Recent research has shown the connection between good nutrition and eye health.  There are guidelines for the amount of antioxidants that should be consumed in order to reduce the harmful affects of the environment.  Radiation from energy, such as the visible light spectrum, can damage the parts of the body that have direct exposure to the environment.  The eyes and skin are the only organs that are directly exposed to this energy.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are two very similar carotenoids that exist in the human retina.  A carotenoid is a naturally occurring pigment that gives many of our foods their color.  These antioxidants help to combat the affects of free radicals in the body, and they also help to filter out most of the high energy blue wavelengths of light.  Free radicals and blue light can cause aging in the eye, and help to increase the affects of macular degeneration.  Eating foods that are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, and taking supplements that contain them, will help to reduce the risk of macular degeneration. 

It is recommended that the average adult consume at least 6-10 mg/day.  Anyone that has been diagnosed with macular degeneration, or has risk factors such as family history of the disease, should aim for 20 mg/day.  The best natural source of lutein can be found in green leafy vegetables.  Here’s a list of foods with lutein, and the amount of mgs per cup of each item:  Kale (25), cooked spinach (20), collards (14), turnip greens (12), green peas and corn (2-4), broccoli and romaine lettuce (1-2), and papaya, eggs, and oranges (<1).  It’s likely that you’ll have a difficult time getting the recommended dosage through diet alone, and supplements with lutein should be added.  You can find out more about lutein at

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