Eat Empowered

Nurturing Vision and Mind: The Lutein Connection

By Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN
This article was written in partnership with OmniActive Health Technologies for its “Lutein for Every Age” initiative.

When we think of good nutrition, our minds often wander toward thoughts of muscles, weight loss and perhaps heart and bone health. We often neglect what some see as the most important health outcome—good eyesight. While various nutrients contribute to overall well-being, there’s one unsung hero that deserves the spotlight—lutein.  Lutein is a crucial nutrient for maintaining eye and brain health throughout life from childhood to adulthood. The impact of proper nutrition on our eyes and brains is a critical aspect that deserves more attention.

The Lutein Advantage for Eye Health

The old saying that “eyes are the windows to the soul” might just hold more truth than we realize. Lutein, a carotenoid that acts as a potent antioxidant, plays a starring role in supporting eye health. Found abundantly in the retina— there is three times as much lutein in the retina compared to what is found in blood—lutein acts as a natural shield against harmful blue light and ultraviolet rays. These rays, which we encounter daily from screens and sunlight, can contribute to oxidative stress, accelerating the aging process and increasing the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Blue light penetrates deep in the eye impacting retinal cells directly. As we spend 10 hours a day on digital devices, lutein is critical for protecting eyes on a daily basis. Think of lutein as swooping in and acting as a protective big sibling, absorbing these damaging rays and neutralizing their potential harm. 

But lutein’s role doesn’t end there. As an antioxidant, it fights inflammation and reduces oxidative stress, promoting a healthier environment for eye cells to thrive. Its unique presence in the eye also supports overall better visual function, aiding in tasks like glare recovery.

During the developmental years, lutein aids in the formation of healthy eye structures, setting the stage for optimal vision, making childhood a critical time for intake as well. Adequate lutein intake in childhood can have a lasting impact, contributing to a reduced risk of vision problems as one ages.

How much lutein is necessary? 

So, just how much lutein should you be incorporating into your daily diet to reap these benefits? Adults should aim for 6 to 20 mg daily, but average intake is only about 1.7 from fruits and vegetables. As always consistency is key and regular consumption of lutein-rich foods can lead to long-term benefits for your eyes and brain.

What foods are lutein-rich?

Hopefully, you’re already consuming some of the delicious whole, real foods listed below. If not, you can let your eye health be your new motivating factor. Here are some foods high in lutein:

  • Broccoli: High in lutein and other essential nutrients, broccoli makes for a nutritious addition to any meal. A couple faves are egg scrambles and air-fried broccoli.
  • Corn: This summertime favorite not only adds a drop of sweetness to your plate but it also provides a dose of lutein.
  • Eggs: The yolks of eggs contain lutein. Scrambled, poached, or hard-boiled, eggs are a high protein versatile option to enhance your lutein intake.
  • Leafy Greens: Spinach, kale, collard greens, and Swiss chard are some of the most potent sources of lutein. Incorporate them into salads, smoothies, and cooked dishes for a nutrient-packed boost.
  • Orange and Yellow Fruits and Vegetables: Think oranges, mangoes, and carrots. These vibrant options offer a tasty way to support your eye and brain health daily.
  • Marigold Flowers: Extracts from marigold flowers are often used to create lutein supplements, providing a convenient option for those looking to bridge nutritional gaps.

80% of all cases of visual impairment are avoidable which is why consistent and daily intake of lutein plays a key role in visual function and protection especially from constant exposure to blue light. Incorporate lutein rich foods into your daily diet as a first line of defense. As insurance, supplementation is recommended. Lutemax 2020 is a patented formula containing all three macular carotenoids—lutein, RR-zeaxanthin, RS-zeaxanthin—in the same ratio found in the diet and naturally derived from marigold flowers. Eat your lutein rich foods and supplement with Lutemax 2020 to give your eye health and future of sight its best fighting chance. 

If nutrients were a football team that contribute to our overall well-being, lutein is QB for eye and brain health. Its unique and specialized ability to shield our eyes from harmful light, combat inflammation, and support visual function underscores its importance in our daily diet. By incorporating lutein-rich foods into our meals and supplementing when necessary, we’re taking a proactive step towards nurturing our fragile vision and promoting a sharp, vibrant mind. Let’s embrace lutein as our nutrient MVP.

(Image: Unsplash)

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