If you were able to magically peer into the very back of your eye, to the part that's responsible for detailed central vision, what color do you think it would be? The answer is yellow. Why? Because this tiny oval structure, called the macula, is saturated with lutein (pronounced LOO-tene), a yellow pigment found in plants.
Lutein, which occurs naturally in marigolds, corn, egg yolks, spinach, broccoli, squash, and peas, plays a very special role in a plant's life. It acts like a "botanical sunscreen," protecting the plant against the harmful effects of ultraviolet light.
As it turns out, lutein offers the same protection to your eyes. When you eat foods that contain lutein, the yellow pigment is deposited into the macula. There, it creates a shield that protects the macula from the damaging free radicals created by UV rays.
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Imagine if, just by taking a little lutein pill each day, you could prevent macular degeneration
- the leading cause of blindness among adults over 55 in the United States and other developed countries. That's exactly what the research on lutein is showing.
Preventing Macular Degeneration
Numerous studies have concluded that the more lutein you ingest, the less likely you are to develop this eye-destroying disease. The most recent study, which tracked nearly 2,500 people for five to ten years, found that people who got the most lutein and zeaxanthin (a sister pigment) through diet slashed their risk of developing macular degeneration by an incredible 65 percent.
Already Have Macular Degeneration?
Even if you already have macular degeneration, lutein can help. One of the biggest human clinical trials to date on lutein, called the Lutein Antioxidant Supplementation Trial (or LAST), tracked what happened when macular degeneration patients were given lutein supplements or placebo pills for a year. Researchers found that those who took lutein experienced significant improvements in their visual acuity (sharpness of vision) and contrast sensitivity (the ability to make out objects that blend into a similarly colored background) compared to those who took a placebo. Neither the researchers nor the subjects knew who was getting the dummy pill and who was getting the real thing, so there was no possibility of a "placebo effect."
How Essential is Lutein?
Because lutein and zeaxanthin have such a profound effect on vision, some researchers have even asked if these two pigments are "conditionally essential" nutrients. In other words, while lutein and zeaxanthin don't have official vitamin or mineral status, might they be just as essential?I think the answer is yes. In fact, low levels of macular lutein and zeaxanthin are now considered a risk factor for the development of macular degeneration.
Unfortunately, most people in developed countries don't eat nearly the amount of fruits and vegetables needed to get optimal levels of lutein. Scientists have determined we need between 6-20 mg of this important phyto-nutrient per day to protect against macular degeneration. Yet in the United States, the mean intake is just 1.7 mg per day. Not only that, levels of lutein and zeaxanthin within the macula decline with age. That makes it especially important for anyone over 50 to supplement their diets with lutein.
JIVA Lutein Healthy Eyes Capsule Formula
contains lutein blended together with natural powerful anti-oxidants found in zeaxanthin, lycopene, bilberry, and Vitamin A to provide healthy