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Background

Background

eye diagram

The macula is a tiny but very important part of the eye.

For more than a hundred years doctors and scientists have known about the yellow substance which coats the focal point at the back of the eye. In the mid-twentieth century this macular pigment was identified as being part of a family of carotenoids found in green leaves and was suspected of protecting the eye from light damage but it wasn’t until 1985 that the carotenoids were identified as lutein and zeaxanthin.

 

During the 1990’s, macular pigments Lutein and Zeaxanthin were found to have a protective effect against short wavelength (blue) light damage as well as providing antioxidant properties – thus potentially slowing Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). A third macular pigment however, is taking the spotlight in recent studies.

 

Meso-zeaxanthin

Meso-zeaxanthin identified in 1994 as one of three carotenoids in the retina of human eyes is proving to be the most powerful anti-oxidant of the three carotenoids allowing the greatest blue light filtration and thus preventing the most amount of damage to the macula. These carotenoids comprise 72% of  the yellow macular pigment at the center of the retina.

green leafy vegetables

Green leafy vegetables provide essential lutein and zeaxanthin.

 

Carotenoids in the diet

While it is clear that both Lutein and zeaxanthin are derived from eating green leafy vegetables meso-zeaxanthin is probably synthesized from lutien in the retina as it doesn’t appear in the blood or liver. As we age some of us lose the ability to convert lutein to meso-zeaxanthin inside the macula.

 

Supplementation

While eating lutein and zeaxanthin rich foods is still beneficial to slowing AMD meso-zeaxanthin can not be derived from diet and most be taken as a supplement. Recent research has shown that a combination of vitamins and minerals including all three macular carotenoids in proportion  is the most effective treatment for slowing the advancement of AMD.

25 mg. zinc

2 mg. copper

500 mg. vitamin C

400 mg. vitamin E

 

 

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