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Lutein appears to offer significant protection against macular degeneration. The macula is the area of the retina where images are focused. It is the portion of the eye responsible for fine vision. Degeneration of the macula is the leading cause of severe visual loss. The macula, especially the central portion of the macula (the fovea) owes its yellow colour to its high concentration of lutein. A low level of lutein in the macula pigment is thought to represent a major risk factor for age-related macular degeneration. Therefore, the possibility of increasing the concentration of lutein within the macula may offer significant protective effects against the development of macular degeneration. Lutein supplementation has been able to increase blood and macular lutein concentrations. However, whether or not lutein supplementation can actually prevent or treat macular degeneration has not been sufficiently determined.
One study that examined 50,000 women over an eight-year period, showed that the women who ate the most spinach (high in lutein) had a significantly lower rate of cataract formation than those women who consumed little lutein. Researcher, Dr. Johanna Seddon, discovered that persons who had a higher carotenoid intake, particularly lutein and zeaxanthin, had a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration.
When compared to other Polynesians, Fijians have much lower lung cancer rates, even though their smoking rates are the same as that of the other Islanders. Researchers discovered that Fijians ate three to six times more leafy green vegetables, high in lutein, than other Islanders. When heart disease rates in Toulouse, France (very low rate of heart disease) were compared with Belfast, Ireland (very high rate), the comparison showed that Toulouse residents had much higher levels of lutein in their blood.
- Lutein appears to offer significant protection against macular degeneration
- May protect against cataract formation and coronary artery disease
- None known.
Pregnancy and Nursing: As the effects of lutein supplementation during pregnancy and lactation have not been sufficiently evaluated, it should not be used during these times.
Seniors: No special precautions are known.
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