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Lutein

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What other names is Lutein known by?

All-E-Lutein, All-E-Zeaxanthin, All-E-3'-dehydro-lutein, Beta,epsilon-carotene-3,3'-diol, Carotenoid, Caroténoïde, E-Lutein, Luteina, Lutéine, Lutéine Synthétique, Synthetic Lutein, Xanthophyll, Xanthophylle, Zeaxanthin, Zéaxanthine.

What is Lutein?

Lutein is a type of vitamin called a carotenoid. It is related to beta-carotene and vitamin A. Foods rich in lutein include broccoli, spinach, kale, corn, orange pepper, kiwi fruit, grapes, orange juice, zucchini, and squash. Lutein is absorbed best when it is taken with a high-fat meal.

Many people think of lutein as "the eye vitamin." They use it to prevent eye diseases including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, eye strain, an inherited condition that causes vision loss (choroideremia), and a certain eye disease that affects the retina (retinitis pigmentosa).

Some people also use it for preventing numerous cancers, type 2 diabetes, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson's disease, cognitive function, high blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia), and heart disease. Lutein has also been used to prevent complications in infants that are born too early and have low birth weight.

Many multivitamins contain lutein. They usually provide a relatively small amount of 0.25 mg per tablet.

Likely Effective for...

  • Lutein deficiency. Taking lutein by mouth prevents lutein deficiency.

Possibly Effective for...

  • An eye disease called age-related macular degeneration (AMD). People who eat higher amounts of lutein in their diet seem to have a lower risk of developing AMD. But people who already eat high amounts of lutein don't seem to benefit from increasing their intake even more. Taking lutein supplements for up to 36 months can improve some symptoms of AMD. But it does not seem to prevent AMD from becoming worse. Research on the use of supplements containing lutein and other ingredients shows conflicting results.
  • Cataracts. Eating higher amounts of lutein is linked with a lower risk of developing cataracts. Taking supplements containing lutein and zeaxanthin reduces the risk of developing cataracts that require surgical removal in people who eat low amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin as part of their diet. Also, taking lutein supplements seems to improve vision in older people who already have cataracts and do not already consume a lot of lutein and zeaxanthin.

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • A lung disease that affects newborns (bronchopulmonary dysplasia). . Research shows that giving preterm infants 0.5 mL of a product containing lutein and zeaxanthin (LUTEINofta, SOOFT Italia SpA) by mouth once daily does not reduce the chance of developing bronchopulmonary dysplasia.
  • Heart disease (cardiovascular disease). Research shows that taking lutein 10 mg with zeaxanthin 2 mg by mouth daily does not prevent death due to heart disease or heart-related adverse event such as stroke, heart attack, or chest pain in older people.
  • Clogged arteries (coronary heart disease). People who eat higher amounts of lutein do not have a lower the risk of developing clogged arteries compared to those who eat lower amounts.
  • Damage to tissue in the intestines of infants that causes the tissue to die (necrotizing enterocolitis; NEC). Research shows that giving preterm infants 0.5 mL of a product containing lutein and zeaxanthin (LUTEINofta, SOOFT Italia SpA) by mouth once daily does not prevent necrotizing enterocolitis.
  • An eye disorder in premature infants that can lead to blindness (retinopathy of prematurity). Research shows that giving preterm infants 0.5 mL or 1.8 mL/kg body weight of a product containing lutein and zeaxanthin (LUTEINofta, SOOFT Italia SpA) by mouth once daily does not prevent retinopathy of prematurity.
  • An eye disease that affects the retina (retinitis pigmentosa). Most research shows that taking lutein by mouth does not improve vision or other symptoms in people with retinitis pigmentosa.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease). Early research suggests that people who eat more lutein as part of their diet have a lower risk of developing ALS compared to people who eat lower amounts of lutein.
  • Eye strain (asthenopia). Early research shows that taking a combination supplement containing lutein reduces eye strain. The effect of lutein alone on eye strain is unclear.
  • Breast cancer. Research suggests that higher levels of lutein in the blood are linked with a reduced risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Cervical cancer. Early research suggests that lower intake of lutein as part of the diet is not linked with an increased risk of developing cervical cancer.
  • An inherited condition that causes vision loss (choroideremia). Early research suggests that taking 20 mg of lutein daily for 6 months does not improve vision in people with choroideremia.
  • Mental function. Some research shows that taking that taking 10 mg of lutein plus 2 mg of zeaxanthin does not improve speaking or memory in older people. However, other early research suggests that taking 12 mg of lutein with or without 800 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) for 4 months can improve speaking and memory in older women.
  • Colon and rectal cancer. There are conflicting results about whether diets containing higher amounts of lutein can reduce the risk of developing colon or rectal cancer.
  • Diabetes. Some research suggests that low blood levels of lutein or other carotenoids are linked with blood sugar problems. In theory, taking lutein might reduce the risk of developing diabetes. However, other research suggests that increasing lutein intake in the diet does not reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
  • Cancer of the esophagus. Early research suggests that high amounts of lutein in the diet are linked with a decreased risk of developing cancer of the esophagus.
  • Muscle soreness after exercise. Some research suggests that taking a combination product that contains lutein (BioAstin) daily for 3 weeks before exercise does not reduce muscle soreness after exercise.
  • Lung cancer. Some early evidence suggests that low blood levels of lutein are linked with an increased risk of developing lung cancer. However, other research shows that taking lutein does not affect the risk of developing or dying from lung cancer.
  • Parkinson's disease. Early research suggests that high amounts of lutein in the diet are not linked with a decreased risk of developing Parkinson's disease.
  • High blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia). Some research suggests that high blood levels of lutein are linked with a lower risk of developing high blood pressure during pregnancy. It is not clear if taking lutein supplements lowers the risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy.
  • Prostate cancer. Early research shows that low blood levels of lutein are not linked with an increased risk of prostate cancer.
  • Respiratory infections. Early research shows that high blood levels of lutein are not linked with a decreased risk of respiratory infections.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of lutein for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


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