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What Do Lutein, Meso-Zeaxanthin and Zeaxanthin Do?

natural alternative remedies for eye health

By now, you know all about antioxidants and how they can help your health. They protect your cells from damage caused by the free radicals from food, sunlight, pollution and bunch of other unavoidable things you come across daily [1]. But there are many kinds of antioxidants, and they all have a slightly different effect on your body.

Lutein, meso-zeaxanthin and zeaxanthin are antioxidants known as carotenoids. In case you don’t know, carotenoids are red, yellow and orange pigments that give certain plants their vibrant color [2]. Colorful vegetables like carrots, tomatoes and bell pepper, for example, are all high in carotenoids [2].

More specifically, lutein, meso-zeaxanthin and zeaxanthin are xanthophyll carotenoids or macular carotenoids. The term xanthophyll carotenoids refers to carotenoids that contain oxygen [3]. And the term macular carotenoids refers to carotenoids that are found in your eye [4]. Lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin are the only macular carotenoids [5].

Your body can’t produce macular carotenoids on its own, so you need to get them from food or supplements [6]. When you feed your body macular carotenoids, it uses them to supply the macular pigment in the center of the eye [6]. Macular pigment acts as a shield for the retina and more specifically the macula, the center of the retina. It protects the macula from damage caused by short, high-energy blue light wavelengths found in sunlight, computer screens, TVs, tablets, smartphones, LED lights and energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs [6]. It also fends off free radicals [6].

Having enough macular pigment in your eyes is incredibly important. It decreases your risk for age-related macular degeneration [7]. It also makes your eyes more resilient to the eye strain caused by overexposure to blue light [8]. Low macular pigment levels contribute to low chromatic contrast sensitivity too, which makes it hard to see the difference between colors (9;10). That’s why providing your body with the macular carotenoids it needs to produce enough of this protective pigment should be a top priority.

How can you get enough of these critical macular carotenoids?

You can get them from certain foods [11;12]. But since our modern agricultural practices have slowly stripped the soil of nutrients, the fruits and vegetables that contain macular carotenoids are gradually declining in nutritional value [13]. As a result, it can be hard to get enough macular carotenoids through food alone, which means you may want to try a macular carotenoid supplement.

Studies show supplements that contain macular carotenoids like lutein, meso-zeaxanthin and zeaxanthin promote healthy vision in many ways. They reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, improve chromatic contrast and improve recovery from photo stress [14;15;16].

Many of these benefits occur because of how these antioxidants impact your macular pigment, which shields your eyes from blue light, among other dangers. So, consider trying a macular carotenoid supplement that gives your macular pigment the support it needs and your eyes the protection they deserve.