Why Include a Vision Nutrient in a Multiple Vitamin?
Written By Karan R Gregg Aggarwala, MS, PhD
Karan R Gregg Aggarwala holds a PhD and a Master’s of Science Degree in Vision Science from the State University of New York College of Optometry. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship in nutritional optometry under the guidance of Dr. Benjamin C. Lane of Lake Hiawatha, NJ. He has worked as a medical writer and associate medical director in the NY area since 2009. Meet Dr. Gregg for a free nutritional consultation at our 72nd Street retail location in Manhattan, New York.
Lutein, a known nutrient for vision health, has also emerged as a major player for brain health, supporting memory functions throughout our lifespan, especially during childhood and the aging process. In our retina, an essential region for crystal clear vision, the concentration of two carotenoids - Lutein and Zeaxanthin (abbreviated L + Z) - are essential for ongoing vision health. They are so important to vision that they are commonly referred to as macular pigments. The macula is a filter that helps protect the eye.†
Healthy, robust macular tissue, rich in L + Z, has key functions, including filtering out blue light and focusing on objects for our sharpest vision (such as in reading a newspaper). Blue light is unstable and exposure is everywhere, even on your cell phone or TV screen. If it penetrates deep into our eyes, it damages the many small organs in our retina that are required for vision. Having a thicker macular tissue shields from blue light and this robustness is largely due to its L + Z content.†
L + Z levels decline with age largely due to a decreasing ability to absorb sufficient quantities from foods. Research shows that restoring L + Z levels through supplementation reinforces macular health and supports and even improves fine vision. Interestingly, the amount of L + Z in our eyes is reflected by the concentration in our blood plasma and this also reflects the concentration in our brain. Lutein is the dominant protective carotenoid pigment in the brain. Using up L + Z in our eyes, due to blue light exposure, depletes the Lutein level of our brain, which can eventually impact memory. Research shows that adequate Lutein in the brain is necessary for ongoing memory functions.†
1. Br J Ophthalmol. 2013 Aug;97(8):994-8. Evidence of lower macular pigment optical density in chronic open angle glaucoma. Igras E1, Loughman J, Ratzlaff M, O'Caoimh R, O'Brien C.
2. Molecules. 2017 Apr 20;22(4). The Pharmacological Effects of Lutein and Zeaxanthin on Visual Disorders and Cognition Diseases. Jia YP1, Sun L2, Yu HS3, Liang LP4, Li W5, Ding H6, Song XB7,8, Zhang LJ9.
3. Nutrients. 2014 Jan 22;6(1):452-65. Association between lutein and zeaxanthin status and the risk of cataract: a meta-analysis. Liu XH1, Yu RB2, Liu R3, Hao ZX4, Han CC5, Zhu ZH6, Ma L7.
4. British Journal of Nutrition. 2012 Jul 14;108(1):148-54. Plasma Lutein and Zeaxanthin and the risk of age-related nuclear cataract among the elderly Finnish Population
5. JAMA Ophthalmology.Epub. Intakes of Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and other carotenoids and age-related macular degeneration during 2 decades of prospective follow-up.
6. Investigational Ophthalmology and Visual Science. 2015 Mar 1;57(3): 1160-7. Relationships of Macular Pigment optical density with plasma Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and diet in An elderly population: The Montrachet Study
7. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. 2017 Aug 3;9:254. Effects of Lutein/Zeaxanthin Supplementation on the Cognitive Function of Community Dwelling Older Adults: A Randomized Double-Masked, Placebo-Controlled Trial.
8. Lipids in Health and Disease. 2012 Feb 29;11:33. The relation between serum lipids and Lutein and Zeaxanthin in the serum and retina: results from cross-sectional, case-control and case study designs.
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