You may have heard about this ingredient already, since we very often feature it on our blog. These two nutrients, that often go hand in hand, are essential to maintain your vision and prevent certain diseases.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are the power couple of the eye nutrient world. Without them we’d all be at risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration. Because lutein and zeaxanthin are already found in the retina of the eye, keeping the nutrient levels high is extremely important.
What Are Lutein and Zeaxanthin?
Lutein and its companion nutrient, zeaxanthin, are two carotenoids that are found in the retina of our eyes and in vegetables that are highly pigmented. The main purpose of lutein and zeaxanthin is to absorb light to prevent damage.
In vegetables, this means that when left out in the hot sun, the excess light is absorbed to prevent cell damage. In the eyes, it means that we have built-in sunglasses! To see, light needs to make its way to the retina. But when too much light is let in it can lead to burning and scarring of the retina.
Some traces of lutein and zeaxanthin are also found in the macula of the eye and in the lens. These two parts of the eye are often affected by disease and loss of vision because they are two sensitive parts of the eye.
Studies have also shown that lutein and zeaxanthin work as antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants fight dangerous free radicals in the body that can cause severe cell damage. Sometimes cell damage can lead to the death of the cell.
This is also true in vegetables and fruits. When free radicals form, they attack the cells of the food, making them inedible and rotten. But with lutein and zeaxanthin, these foods can last a lot longer, and a lot heathier.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin and Your Eye Health
You may have heard all about how important vitamin A is to your eyesight, but lutein and zeaxanthin aren’t too far behind on the list of most important nutrients for the eye. Being already present in the eye, we know how important they are to maintaining your eye health and preventing seriously harmful diseases.
How do you know if the levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in your eyes are enough? Well, you don’t until it’s too late. But, the darker the pigment in your eyes, the more likely you are to have high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin.
For our lucky friends with blue and light green eyes, you may have the prettiest and rarest eyes, but you also have a lot less pigmentation. This only means that you need to work extra hard to get the right amount of lutein and zeaxanthin into your body.
With a low count of lutein and zeaxanthin, your eyes don’t have the natural protection that they need. You can obviously don an awesome pair of UV resisting sunglasses, but what happens when you forget them in the car or at home and you’re stuck on a sunny beach without any protection?
For dark eyes, our lutein and zeaxanthin will kick in and help us out (but don’t solely rely on that; don’t forget your sunglasses). For lighter eyed people, you’re going to need to make sure you’re getting the right amount of lutein and zeaxanthin to keep up with dark eyed people.
In doing so, not only are you protecting your eyes naturally from harmful rays, you’re also preventing diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration. Cataracts form as a result of age, but also as a result of excessive light. When too much light enters the lens, it allows protein in the eye to build up, causing clouded and loss of central vision.
Macular degeneration on the other hand is a little different. As the name suggests, this condition is a result of the macula portion of the eye degenerating. This is often due to age, which is why it is sometimes referred to as age-related macular degeneration.
The macula is where most carotenoids reside. When the count of carotenoids is low, it can increase your chance of macular degeneration, especially as you age. However, lutein and zeaxanthin extract has shown to be helpful in aiding those with onset macular degeneration. The nutrients work to slow down the progression of the condition.
All in all, lutein and zeaxanthin are extremely valuable to your eyes. If you only have time for one nutrient today, it’s this one (or rather, these ones). It’ll help prevent these diseases (or slow the progression if they’ve already kicked in) and keep your vision clear.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin Supplements
Before we get to the types of foods that contain great levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, let’s talk about other places you can get these nutrients. Sometimes we don’t have an hour to cook a proper meal. For those days, we have handy and quick supplements!
First and foremost, you can get your daily needed dose of lutein and zeaxanthin from our amazing Ocu-Plus Formula. In a single pill, you’ll be getting all the carotenoids you need in addition to 16 other essential ingredients for sharp eyes (stay tuned for more articles about these ingredients).
If for whatever reason this fails to interest you, lutein and zeaxanthin supplements alone are also sold in pill form. But why choose just one nutrient when you can have all of them?
Top Foods Containing Lutein and Zeaxanthin
So supplements aren’t for you. That’s ok! Studies have found that 40 percent of Americans have trouble swallowing pills. If you’re part of that 40 percent, you’ll just need to eat some delicious food in lieu of a supplement. Not such a terrible trade, is it?
There are a lot of foods out there that will get you a good amount of lutein and zeaxanthin. We’ll list our favorite foods in just a minute. But if you ever find yourself in the grocery store, forgetting our list of foods, don’t worry. The rule of thumb is the brighter the vegetable (or fruit), the higher in carotenoids.
Top 10 foods with lutein and zeaxanthin:
- Sweet bell peppers (especially yellow ones)
- Oranges (and orange juice)
Lutein and zeaxanthin are best absorbed by the body when eaten with a high in fat meal.
These two nutrients together will help prevent diseases and keep your eyes healthy. Your body produces it naturally and they’re available in supplements and a very wide variety of foods. There’s no reason not to be healthy!