A new study from Spain suggests that lutein/zeaxanthin plus docosahexaenoic acid supplementation can improve the retina protection of patients with early age macular degeneration.
In the randomized controlled trial, 44 patients with early age-realted macular degeneration (AMD) received a daily supplement with 12 mg of lutein, 0.6 mg of zeaxanthin and 280 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) or a placebo for one year (1). The study results showed that the participants of the supplement group had a signi-ficantly increased macular pigment optical density (MPOD) while the placebo group had no MPOD improve-ment.
The researchers concluded that lutein and DHA supplementation increased MPOD levels, potentially impro-ving antioxidant protection of the retina and thus may aid in preventing the progression of AMD in patients and the prevention of AMD. They called for further clinical trials to investigate the optimum dosage levels for all vitamins, micronutrients, and carotenoids that protect the retina against degenerative diseases such as AMD.
Lutein and zeaxanthin selectively accumulate in the retina and are particularly dense in the macula where they are the main components of macular pigment. The carotenoids are known to function as antioxidants and blue-light filters and thus may protect the macular retina and retinal pigment epithelium from light-initiated oxidative damage. DHA is found in the retina, with a high concentration in the rods’ outer segments. Because photoreceptor outer segments are constantly being renewed, a constant supply of DHA may be required for proper retinal function. Epidemiologic studies have suggested that diets rich in vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin and DHA are associated with a significant reduction in the risk of development of early and advanced AMD (2). In addition, increased omega-3 fatty acid intake has been associated with a decreased risk of progression from early to advanced AMD (3).