Lutein is a natural pigment or phytochemical belonging to the carotenoid family. Carotenoids are colorful plant pigments which are known for their potent antioxidant properties.
Good for the Eyes and Skin
Your eyes and skin are the only organs of your body which are directly exposed to the external environment. Lutein is known to provide effective protection and nutritional reinforcement for these important organs. Here's a quick rundown of the way lutein benefits your body:
Near the center of each retina of the eyes is an area called the macula lutea. This is an oval-shaped spot which is responsible for central vision. The macula contains a rich concentration of lutein, giving it a yellow pigmentation. Because of this yellow coloring, the macula has the ability to absorb excess blue light that enters the eyes.
Blue light is a high-energy wavelength from the light spectrum that enters the eyes, which produces free radicals that can cause damage to eyesight. Simply put, the presence of lutein in the macula makes it an effective natural sunblock for the eyes. This is the reason why lutein is an essential component to maintain healthy eyesight and boost normal vision by reducing the risk of macular degeneration or damage to the macula.
Studies also suggest that lutein, in combination with other nutrients, provides an added antioxidant support to the skin. It's deposited both in the epidermis or outer layers and the dermis or inner layers of the skin.
Having a sufficient amount of lutein is important in protecting the skin against the long-term effects of constant sun exposure. The natural yellow pigmentation of lutein allows it to absorb excess blue light from the sun’s rays which can cause cell damage to the skin. Because of its antioxidant functions, lutein has also been proven to increase the skin’s elasticity, moisture and lipid content.
Dietary Sources of Lutein
The human body does not have the capacity to produce its own supply of lutein, so the only way for you get this important compound into your system is by eating foods that are rich in lutein, like dark green leafy vegetables and orange and yellow fruits and vegetables.
If you’re still unsure which particular plant sources are rich in lutein, you cannot go wrong with:
Aside from plants, you can also obtain lutein from an animal source in the form of an egg yolk. Lutein is a fat-soluble compound, which means that your body will be able to absorb it more easily if you include a little fat in your diet.
According to research, the minimum dietary requirement in order to get the full health benefits of lutein in the body is at least 6 - 10 mg daily. This means that you need to consume the equivalent of a bowl of leafy greens every day. For those people who don’t have the time to prepare and consume enough lutein-rich food on a daily basis, a wide variety of food and drinks fortified with lutein can be purchased from supermarkets.
Lutein supplements are also available in health stores, pharmacies, and online. These dietary supplements will ensure that you will get the recommended amount of lutein for maximum protection for your eyes and skin. But as much as possible, don’t just depend your lutein intake on supplements. Make sure that you still exert an effort in including the lutein-rich food sources mentioned above in your daily meals.
Knowing the significant role it plays in eye and skin health prompts awareness on the potential risks of not having enough supply of lutein in the body. Now that you know about the best dietary sources of lutein and other supplements, you will be better guided on how to take good care of your eyes and skin.