Lutein and zeaxanthin are popularly known as “eye vitamins” as they protect the eyes and prevent eye damage. Specifically, these nutrients are part of a family of plant pigments known as carotenoids. Despite the wealth of over 600 carotenoids, Lutein and Zeaxanthin are special in that they accumulate in macula and retina of the eye. When lutein and zeaxanthin are accumulate in the eye, a protective layer is formed known as the macular pigment, which is believed to act as a barrier against damaging forces of aging (reduced macular density) and supports enhanced visual acuity and reduce visual fatigue. In addition, the macular carotenoids are capable of filtering out damaging effects of high energy blue light that emanates from mobile, television, and other sources of screen-sources of blue light. High Energy Blue Light penetrates deeps into the eye and initiates oxidative stress, thus eroding the structure of the macula – the region of the eye responsible for highest visual acuity. Specifically, lutein and zeaxanthin’s powerful antioxidant effect may protect visual function by mitigating the effects of damaging UV rays and as a light filter against harmful high-intensity sunlight as well as blue-light from artificial sources. One six month study with Setu’s patented LuteMax 2020 (manufactured by OmniActive) demonstrated significantly improved macular pigment optical density, visual performance and indicators of excessive screen use, including eye strain and fatigue and headache frequency.
It is estimated that a significant percent of the population spends at least 9 hours per day on digital devices, including smartphones, tablets, and computers. These artificial light sources are known to emit high amounts of short-wavelength blue light, which may be implicated in eye fatigue and strain, but may also induce oxidative stress to ocular tissue. Scientific evidence now demonstrates the efficacy of lutein in providing protection to eyes through various mechanisms such as:-
a) Lutein in the macula helps in the blockage of blue light from reaching the underlying structures in the retina. This reduces the risk of light-induced oxidative damage that causes macular degeneration (AMD).
b) High levels of Lutein in eye tissue is linked with better vision, especially in dim light or where glare is a problem. Diets rich in Lutein can help ward off age-related diseases. A recent study funded by OmniActives shows that administration of Lutemax® resulted in improvements to photostress recovery and glare which are direct indicators of improvements in visual performance and reduced visual fatigue by the administration of Lutemax®.
c) A cataract is a denaturation of the proteins in the eye’s lens. The denaturation is a visible clouding of the eye lens (similar to the way an egg white turns opaque white after heating), leading to hazy vision. The major reason for cataract formation is the direct oxidation taking place in the crystalline eye lenses. As the lenses lose their antioxidant capability, the lens proteins lose sulfhydryl groups and their transparency. Lutein being an antioxidant neutralises the oxidative stress and protects against retinal damage, thereby playing a role in protection and also decreasing the risk of cataracts.
d) Additionally, research is underway to exploit the role of Lutein in the prevention of colon cancer, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Though an essential requirement for the eye, the human body does not manufacture lutein and zeaxanthin on its own. Therefore, it is imperative that we get it from dietary sources and supplementation. Foods like broccoli, spinach, kale, orange pepper, zucchini, grapes, eggs and green leafy vegetables are generally considered rich sources of Lutein and Zeaxanthin.
In addition to being found within the pigments of our eyes, lutein and zeaxanthin are also present within the skin. Due to their strong antioxidant properties, the skin is protected from harmful free radicals. Additionally, Lutein and zeaxanthin help to improve moisture retention and provide anti-aging effects.
OmniActives pioneering efforts on Lutemax® macular carotenoids (MC) went into a new application in this study, as these scientists evaluated its effects on skin protection. As it is known that macular carotenoids filter high energy blue light, the scientists searched in a 12 week trial to assess the impact of Lutemax® on skin health. In this randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial, the treatment group received an oral dietary supplement containing 10 mg lutein (L) and 2 mg zeaxanthin isomers (Zi) (RR-zeaxanthin and RS [meso]-zeaxanthin). Upon completion, a variety of skin markers were significantly improved including: skin tone evenness, skin tone clarity, decrease of erythema (irritation of skin), and skin lightening. The mechanism of skin color lightening is based on its strengthening of antioxdiant status inside the body. On the other hand, in the placebo (no-carotenoids) group, facial fine lines and wrinkles actually increased.