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Experts highlight the importance of carotenoids and essential fatty acids for eye health

November 11, 2010

A new review has come to the conclusion that a sufficient intake of lutein, zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids is indispensible for the maintenance of eye health.

The review analyzed the currently available studies on the connection between lutein, zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids and maintaining eye health (1). The scientists came to the conclusion that an adequate intake of these micronutrients can contribute significantly to the prevention and treatment of degenerative eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration. They found that scientific studies substantiate the positive effects of the micronutrients.

Lutein and zeaxanthin, in particular, play an important part in eye function: both carotenoids produce the macular pigment and filter out harmful blue light from sunlight as well as UV light. This improves the ability to see contrasts and reduces sensitivity to glare, say the scientists. Moreover the two micronutrients have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Omega-3 fatty acids like docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid also possess anti-inflammatory properties and can therefore protect the eye against oxidative cell damage in the retina.

According to the scientists, older people in particular often do not consume enough micronutrients in their diet. An additional intake in the form of dietary supplements can be especially beneficial in this age group. Current studies indicate that nutrient preparations with lutein/zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids in physiologically appropriate doses are to be recommended. Ten to 20 mg lutein and zeaxanthin represent a safe daily dose. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently confirmed that a daily dose of 250 mg docosahexaenoic acid can help maintain normal sight.

References

  1. Schweigert F. J. and Reimann J. Micronutrients and their relevance for the eye – Function of lutein, zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids. Klin Monatsbl Augenheilkd. 2010.