- What are lutein and zeaxanthin? Lutein and zeaxanthin are anti-oxidant pigments found in the macula of the eye (in the retina) and are believed to protect the macula from damage (see What It Is).
- What are the health benefits of lutein and zeaxanthin? On average, people don't consume enough lutein and zeaxanthin and/or have low levels of lutein in their blood or low macular pigment density; for them, taking a lutein supplement may slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (although it won't improve the condition) as well as reduce the risk of needing cataract surgery. It may also improve some aspects of brain function (See What It Does).
- How much lutein and zeaxanthin to take? A dose of 10 mg of lutein appears to be better than a lower dose (6 mg). Higher dose products (e.g., 20 mg to 40 mg) are common, although it is not known if a higher dose is better. Nevertheless, 20 mg has been shown to be safe in a 6-month study.
- Which types of lutein and zeaxanthin are best? It's not clear whether the "free" or "ester" form, or a natural or synthetic source, is better and it is not clear if there is added benefit with zeaxanthin (see Forms of lutein).
- How much do lutein and zeaxanthin cost? Lutein and zeaxanthin at a reasonable dose (10 to 20 mg) can be obtained for as little as about 10 to 15 cents per day (see What CL Found).
- Other ingredients, particularly zinc and vitamin C, may provide additional benefit in slowing the progression of age-related macular degeneration (see AREDS). Formulas with these ingredients were also reviewed. (People with a genetic polymorphism known as ARMS2 A69S have been found to be more likely to benefit from the AREDS formula than those with CFH Y402H (see ConsumerTips for details)).
- What did CL's tests of lutein and zeaxanthin show? Our tests showed that most products contained the lutein and zeaxanthin they claimed to provide, but one product had only 50% of its listed zeaxanthin.
- Which lutein and zeaxanthin products are best? We chose three Top Picks among lutein and vision supplements based on value and clinical evidence.
- How to take lutein and zeaxanthin: To enhance absorption, it is best to take lutein and zeaxanthin supplements with a fatty meal, but be aware that consumption of certain foods and supplements may decrease absorption of lutein and zeaxanthin (see Concerns and Cautions). In addition, try to eat at least one orange per week and have fish at least once a week, as these are also associated with a reduced risk of AMD.