What is Lutein?
Lutein is an antioxidant found in the pigment of dark green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, and collard greens, colorful vegetables with yellow or red skins, like peppers and tomatoes, as well as some fruits and egg yolks. Antioxidants reduce the harmful effects of free radicals in our body by binding with them and neutralizing their activity. Lutein also works to keep our eyes in tip-top shape.
How does Lutein work?
Lutein, works closely with another antioxidant, zeaxanthin, to promote healthy eyes. Lutein is concentrated in the retina of the eye and protects it from harmful light. Lutein filters out blue light—found in both natural and artificial light sources—which increases free radical production in our eyes, and contributes to various eye maladies including macular degeneration and cataracts, two leading causes of vision loss in adults.
Lutein helps to lower the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. In one study from Ohio State, Lutein was found to be nearly 10 times more powerful than Vitamin E in protecting the eyes from light damage.
Lutein is also thought to slow down or even prevent the thickening of the arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a major risk for cardiovascular disease. But our bodies don't manufacture Lutein, so the only way to get enough of it is to eat lots of very colorful fruits and vegetables, or to take a dietary supplement.
How much do I need?
There isn't a Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for Lutein, but research suggests a daily dose of 6 to 20 mg is needed for optimum health. The best way to get your daily dose is by eating the USDA's recommended 5 to 8 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. But, since only about one-quarter of all Americans eat the recommended allotment, you might consider a dietary supplement to ensure you're getting all the Lutein you need for good health.
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Minerals: An Overview