Zeaxanthin: Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage, and Interactions

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Zeaxanthin is a carotenoid that plays a role in protecting the eyes from the harmful effects of oxidation and light damage. Zeaxanthin is a yellow pigment found in the center of the macula. It is found in large quantities in dark green vegetables, orange and yellow fruits, and in egg yolks. In fact, zeaxanthin is the pigment that gives paprika, saffron and corn their characteristic colors. This is generally associated with a similar lutein supplement. Both supplements are carotenoids for eye health and are abundant in many vegetables and fruits.

Health benefits

Zeaxanthin is an eye vitamin that, once ingested, is attracted to the eyes. It penetrates the lens, the macula and the fossa (central point of the retina ). Zeaxanthin helps create a yellow pigment shield that protects the cells of the eye from the harmful effects of certain light sources, such as the sun. It also protects the eyes from dangerous free radicals that form over time through oxidation.

Several of the dietary sources of zeaxanthin have been studied as protective factors in age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. The disease mainly affects people 65 years of age or older. Some of the macular complications that affect young adults can be called macular degeneration, but the term generally refers to age- related macular degeneration.

Zeaxanthin, along with lutein , is the only dietary carotenoid that accumulates in the retina, especially in the macular area. (Meso-zeaxanthin is the third dominant carotenoid in the very center of the macula, where zeaxanthin dominates away from the center.) Since both substances are found in large quantities in the macula, they are known as macular pigments. Zeaxanthin and Lutein can help with the following conditions:

  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD): Zeaxanthin and lutein supplements can protect the eyes from the progression of AMD, which sometimes leads to blindness .
  • Cataract : A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye. Consuming zeaxanthin and lutein can slow down the formation of cataracts .
  • Uveitis : Uveitis is an inflammation or swelling of the choroid of the eye. The uvea is located in the center of the eye, between the sclera and the retina, and is responsible for the blood supply to the retina. Zeaxanthin and Lutein can help slow inflammation .
  • Diabetic retinopathy : Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that results from damage to the blood vessels in the retina. Zeaxanthin and lutein supplements can reduce oxidative processes that damage the eyes .

Possible side effects.

To date, there are no known side effects or negative interactions of zeaxanthin with other medications. Although zeaxanthin is harmless, a fair-skinned person may develop a yellowish discoloration of the skin after exceeding the maximum recommended daily level for adults (10 milligrams). ).

It is important to check with your doctor or ophthalmologist before taking any new supplements.

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Dosage and preparation

There are currently no recommended dietary guidelines for zeaxanthin. The amount of zeaxanthin your body needs may depend on the level of stress you experience in your daily life. For example, a smoker may need more zeaxanthin because smokers tend to have lower levels of carotenoids than non-smokers. A recent study used a formulation containing 10 milligrams (mg) of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin .

It is estimated that most people consume 1 to 3 mg of zeaxanthin per day with food. However, you may need more to reduce your risk of eye disease. Fats improve the absorption of zeaxanthin, so it is good to include them in your diet. Try adding a little olive oil to a green salad or adding butter to cooked green vegetables.

What to look for

Most of the zeaxanthin is found in the leaves of most green plants. Inside the plant, it modulates light energy and maintains the required level of chlorophyll during photosynthesis. Zeaxanthin and lutein are responsible for the vibrant colors of many fruits and vegetables, but they are found in large amounts in leafy green vegetables. The chlorophyll in dark green vegetables masks the lutein and zeaxanthin pigments, giving the vegetables their characteristic green color.

Some of the dark green leafy vegetables that are high in zeaxanthin include kale, spinach, turnip greens, collard greens, romaine lettuce, watercress, chard, and mustard greens.

If you feel like you can't reach the RDA for zeaxanthin through diet alone, you can add a vitamin. As for the dietary supplement, it is recommended to take up to 10 mg of lutein and zeaxanthin per day.

Please note that nutritional supplements are not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for pharmaceuticals, unless unsubstantiated health claims are prohibited. The FDA or the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have not approved any health claims regarding zeaxanthin supplements.

General business

Is zeaxanthin good for other parts of the body?

In recent years it has been discovered that zeaxanthin can have beneficial effects on the skin. Daily consumption of zeaxanthin can protect skin cells from premature aging and UVB-induced tumors. A recent study found that consuming 10 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin can also improve skin tone .

What is the difference between zeaxanthin and mesoseaxanthin?

Mesoseaxanthin dominates in the very center of the macula. Zeaxanthin, lutein, and mesoseaxanthin together form a macular pigment, a natural blue light filter, and an antioxidant present in the retina. In people with a normal diet, the macular pigment is usually depleted. Therefore, it is recommended that you consider taking an eye supplement that contains all three macular pigment carotenoids.

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While there are many factors, lutein and zeaxanthin are beneficial for overall eye health. Plus, you can take other steps to keep your eyes as healthy as possible. Try to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, especially brightly colored ones like spinach, kale, bell peppers, sweet corn, red grapes, and oranges. Egg yolks are also a great source of zeaxanthin.

If you smoke, try to quit. Smoking is a major risk factor for developing AMD. Remember to wear sunglasses or goggles when in bright light conditions (sunlight or artificial light, including blue light sources like smartphones and computers). Keep your body weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels under control.

AMD is a genetic eye disease. Siblings or children of people with AMD may be at increased risk of developing AMD, so they should take preventive measures such as zeaxanthin and lutein supplements.

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