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What is Lutein?


Lutein is the green pigment in plants. Besides its role to give the color of green and dark-green vegetables and fruits, lutein also improves eyesight, the bone system and the teeth and protects and prevents our organism from cancer. Lutein is found in green vegetables and fruits, such as: cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, endives, asparagus, spinach, nettles, kiwi fruits, green apples, beans, peas, parsley, pepper grass, green tea etc.

Lutein is found all throughout our body, but it is very concentrated in the macula of the eyes. That is why it significantly inhibits the risk of developing macular degeneration of the eyes and is much recommended for individuals that have eye problems and also for the ones that make extensive use of their visual ability such as, for example, people that are over-exposed to sun rays or computer screens on a regular basis.

Benefits Of Lutein: The benefits of lutein to the health of the eyes are undisputed. Lutein and zeaxanthin supplements are recommended to prevent cataracts, age related macular degeneration and to counteract the effects of the sun and oxidative stress on the interior of the eyes, as well as a treatment for people who have been diagnosed with macular degeneration. The recommended zeaxanthin and lutein dosage varies, depending on a person’s age, overall health and current condition of the eye. While no USRDA or recommended daily intake has been established, because of the known benefits of lutein, government officials have done surveys to determine the average daily intake of this antioxidant. It is estimated that most Americans consume about 1 to 2 mg of lutein per day. The most common dietary sources are dark green leafy vegetables.

Sources For Lutein:
The best source for pure lutein and zeaxanthin supplements is the marigold flower. Some supplements contain lutein “esters”, but it is unclear if the benefits of lutein esters are the same as those of pure lutein. In order for a supplement to provide the purported health benefits, the ingredients must be “bioavailable” or available for use by the human body.

The bioavailability of an ingredient in a supplement may be determined by the form that is used. In some supplements, esters are easily absorbed by the human body. In the case of lutein and zeaxanthin supplements, it has been suggested that esters are less bioavailable, as they are insoluble in water. If this is true, then the necessary lutein dosage, in ester form, would be greater, to see positive results.

Much debate continues, but the best lutein and zeaxanthin supplements contain the pure natural form.

Research:
The results of the clinical study carried out by Italian experts showed that a 10 mg supplement of lutein administrated orally every day boosts skin hydration by 60%, skin elasticity by 20% , the levels of epidermis superficial lipids by 50%, while reducing the oxidation of the same superficial lipids by 64%.

The research was entitled 'Clinical Evidence for Lutein and Zeaxanthin in Skin Health, Part 1: Comparison of Placebo, Oral, Topical and Combined Oral/Topical Xanthophyll Treatments' and could be a breakthrough discovery in the continuous anti-aging fight.

"This research underscores the importance of thinking about skin health and beauty from the 'inside out.' The benefits of taking lutein daily will be of great interest to people who are looking for new ways to improve the hydration and elasticity of their skin and help reduce the appearance of premature aging," stated Bruce Katz, M.D., a dermatologist and director of the JUVA Skin & Laser Center in New York.

Research has shown that there may be many health benefits of lutein and zeaxanthin supplements. As antioxidants, they may provide protection against bladder cancer. Increased intake of lutein and zeaxanthin has been shown to be related to improved bone mass in premenopausal women, so one of the benefits of lutein and zeaxanthin supplements may be a reduced risk of osteoporosis.

Higher levels of lutein, zeaxanthin and other carotenoids have been associated with a lower risk of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is one of the most common age related diseases of the heart. It is a type of arteriosclerosis, commonly referred to as hardening of the arteries. In atherosclerosis, cholesterol deposits accumulate on the interior of the blood vessels and over time become hard plaques.

These plaques irritate the lining of the arteries leading to chronic inflammation and reducing the elasticity of the blood vessels. This condition may eventually lead to ruptures or blockages. Although the necessary zeaxanthin and lutein dosage to provide the most health benefits to the heart have not been established, researchers for the best daily supplements include 5 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin in their multi vitamin products.

It is believed that chronic inflammation quickly depletes the body’s supply of antioxidants. Several studies have suggested that lutein and zeaxanthin supplements, along with supplementation of other antioxidants may provide health benefits to people at risk for developing heart disease and cancer, two diseases in which chronic inflammation is involved.

These studies are among the reasons that the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society recommend a diet rich in a variety of multi colored fruits and vegetables. It is antioxidants that give fruits and vegetables their unique colors.

Lutein compound - widely present in plants and taken as oral supplement for preserving eye health - was found to be extremely beneficial for the skin, because it increases skin's hydration level and elasticity and reduces the oxidation of superficial lipids in the epidermis. The study conducted by Italian scientists at the University of Naples was presented at the Beyond Beauty Paris conference in France.

Other Benefits Of Lutein:
One of the final benefits of lutein and zeaxanthin supplements that we will discuss here is related to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. In recent studies, measured levels of several antioxidants including vitamin A, E, lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene in the blood streams of patients suffering from mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease were much lower than levels found in controls.

Mild cognitive impairment typically leads to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Researchers concluded that increased daily intake of antioxidants could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia in the elderly.

In Conclusion:
to provide the most benefit and protection from age related diseases of all types, supplementation should begin in early adulthood and should include an appropriate zeaxanthin and lutein dosage.

When combined with other vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and nutrients, lutein and zeaxanthin supplements provide many health benefits. Some suspected benefits of lutein have not been discussed in this article, as research is still on-going.

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