Lutein - The sight-saver

Kellie Collins

There are two types of vitamin A – retinal and carotenoids. Many of you may not have heard of lutein (loo-teen), but this antioxidant is a member of the carotenoid family. Carotenoids are fat-soluble and are mainly found in fruits and vegetables. Other examples of carotenoids are alpha- and beta- carotene and lycopene, which seem to receive more attention.

However, we should be more aware of the potential benefits of lutein in the diet as it can be important in maintaining healthy vision and may play a role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Lutein is not made in the body and therefore it must be obtained from the diet. It is found in large amounts in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peas and some fruits such as cantaloupe melon and oranges.

The seasonal pumpkin is another good source of this antioxidant. So as long as you are packing in your five servings of fruit and vegetables a day you should have no problems meeting your lutein requirements!

Research has shown that lutein may benefit vision by helping to prevent the onset of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of irreversible blindness that usually occurs in people who are over the age of 65.

Unfortunately, by the time people are diagnosed, the disease may have been developing for 20 years or more. It is believed that lutein may help to keep the macula pigment dense, a crucial factor in the health of the macula and retina.

Due to its antioxidant properties, lutein may also play a role in maintaining healthy skin by protecting the skin from UV damage and the ageing process.

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