Multivitamins with Lutein & Zeaxanthin

Multivitamins make it easy to get in one pill the nutrients your diet might be lacking. Some multivitamins add more than just vitamins and minerals. Lutein and zeaxanthin, two compounds found in large quantities in the eye, can help prevent visual disturbances related to aging, including two of the biggest risks for vision loss as you age: macular degeneration and cataracts. Not all multivitamins that list lutein and xeaxanthin on the label contain enough of the compounds to make a difference, however.


Lutein and zeaxanthin are classified as carotenoids. Both act as antioxidants, which means they help reduce the damaging effects of free radicals, substances that can damage cellular DNA. But carotenoids have specific benefit for your eyes. They're the only carotenoids found in large quantities in eye tissue, according to the American Optometric Association. In the eye, they help filter out potentially harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light, which helps prevent damage to the tissues in the lens and retina of the eye. In sufficient quantities, lutein and zeaxanthin can reduce your risk of developing cataracts or macular degeneration.


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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn't set a specific recommended dietary allowance for lutein or zeaxanthin, so multivitamin manufacturers can choose the amounts to add to their formulas. Some multivitamins might contain very small amounts of lutein, such as 0.25 mg; this is probably too low to be of any benefit, notes the eMedTV website. The American Optometric Association recommends looking for multivitamins with a higher dose of lutein, between 6 to 10 milligrams, and with 2 milligrams of zeaxanthin.

Benefits of Multivitamins

While as many as half of all Americans ages 45 and 65 take supplements for health benefits, only 18 percent take supplements to benefit their eyes, according to a 2011 survey conducted by the Ocular Nutrition Society. Around 66 percent were not aware of the benefits of lutein for ocular health, with around 89 percent unfamiliar with the eye benefits of zeaxanthin. Including these two compounds in multivitamins, especially those marketed for seniors, in quantities large enough to have some benefit, could provide a painless way to reduce eye damage while taking just one all-purpose vitamin.


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Lutein and xeazanthin don't appear to have any serious side effects, although consuming large doses of carotenoids can give your skin a yellowish but harmless tinge, notes the All About Vision website. There are no known interactions between the two substances and prescription medications, but always ask your doctor before starting any new supplement, even if it's part of an over-the-counter multivitamin.