Nothing Routine About Lutein

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) affects approximately ten million people in the United States with individuals of advancing age making up the largest numbers. Since January 1, 2011 and for every year for the next 20 years, 10,000 people in the United States will reach the age of 65. If the figures hold steady for AMD, another 10 million individuals will be diagnosed by the year 2030. Individuals suffering from AMD experience quality of life issues at every turn. These sufferers have to reduce their job workload at an earlier age, have to curtail their motor vehicle habits younger than their healthier counterparts, and engage in less travel and vacations then those without AMD. Reading is affected and so are excursions to plays, movies, and family functions. Although the rise in incidences of AMD is alarming, there is a solution that is both preventive in nature and effective for in the early stages of suffering.

The onset of AMD occurs due to a deficiency state of an important carotenoid known as lutein. Lutein is a fat-soluble phytochemical found in eggs, corn, kale, spinach, zucchini, and lettuce. Research has shown that ingesting adequate amounts of lutein in the diet from foodstuffs or supplements is protective against the onset of AMD. Researchers at Tufts University looked at the bioavailability of lutein found in eggs, spinach, and supplements. The results showed that the amount of lutein metabolites from the eggs and spinach were very bioavailable and lutein from supplements was well tolerated and absorbed. After forty two days the groups showed marked elevation in lutein metabolite saturation with no toxicity. Finally, researchers looked at supplementation in individuals over the age of sixty years to see if adequate levels could be absorbed and maintained. At the forty-two day mark, all groups had elevated levels of lutein and the highest group (20mg/d) experienced plasma levels that stayed saturated for nine days after.

Lutein is found in a variety of foods that can be encountered on a daily basis. Just one cup of kale has enough lutein (recommended 6mg/d) to last a person for 8 days. The millions of sufferers of AMD can have better quality of life through the ingestion of this ubiquitous nutrient. Kale is an especially rich source of lutein and contains ~40 milligrams per cup. Foods that use corn oil as a main ingredient and eggs are also very rich in lutein and are the primary source of lutein in the American diet. Incidentally, there was a dramatic increase in the cases of AMD in the nineties due to the reduced consumption of eggs and corn oil-containing foods thanks to the ‘Low-Fat’ craze of the eighties. Besides corn oil and eggs, other rich sources of lutein are spinach, peas, zucchini, lettuce, and Brussels sprouts. Although no RDA exists for this phytochemical, the USDA Guidelines for Food Consumption recommends ~6 mg/d to help prevent and mitigate the effects of AMD which include loss of central vision, inability to filter out blue light (resulting in washed out green and grey tones) and a decreasing quality of life.

AMD is now the most common cause of eyesight loss in the Unites States. Research is showing that adequate levels of lutein in the diet can protect against AMD and help reduce the effects for those already suffering from the early stages of AMD. As more and more individuals enter into the danger age for this disease, it is important to emphasize foods rich in lutein and consider a quality lutein supplement at a dose of 6 milligrams or more. Talk to a specialist at Clark’s Nutrition to find the foods and supplement that are right for you.