Food & Beverage Perspectives
Carotenoids_Eye

Lutein, Zeaxanthin Improve Visual Performance

Carotenoids play a major role in naturally coloring foods and beverages. What’s great about carotenoids, however, beyond color, is their health benefits. Past studies have shown supplementing two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, and higher macular pigment optical density (MPOD) are related to improvements in glare disability, photostress recovery and chromatic contrast. Well a new study published in Investigate Ophthalmology & Visual Science assessed those links using a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled design.

As cleaner labels fill the shelves, formulators continue to play with natural ingredients to simplify ingredient rosters and please consumers’ desires—and this includes natural colors. As the industry knows, color not only impacts the visual appeal of foods and beverages, but it affects how consumers presume it will taste. In January, we put our Survival Guide on Colors to help you navigate the world of color. Carotenoids play a major role in naturally coloring foods and beverages. What’s great about carotenoids, however, beyond color, is their health benefits.

Past studies have shown supplementing two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, and higher macular pigment optical density (MPOD) are related to improvements in glare disability, photostress recovery and chromatic contrast. Well a new study published in Investigate Ophthalmology & Visual Science assessed those links using a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled design (2014;55(12):8583-89).

The visual effects of one year of supplementing 10 mg/d of lutein and 2 mg/d of zeaxanthin were investigated. A total of 115 young, healthy subjects were recruited and randomized into the study (58 received placebo, 57 L+Z). Several dependent measures were collected at baseline and then once every three months.

MPOD increased significantly versus placebo at all eccentricities. Serum lutein and zeaxanthin also increased significantly by the first follow-up visit (at three months), and remained elevated throughout the intervention period of one year. Chromatic contrast and photostress recovery time improved significantly versus placebo. Glare disability was correlated with macular pigment density throughout the study period but did not increase significantly in the treated group.

The researchers concluded  daily supplementation of this carotenoid duo resulted in significant increase in serum levels and MPOD and improvements in chromatic contrast and recovery from photostress. These results are consistent with past studies showing that increasing MPOD leads to improved visual performance.

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