Again, in adults, lutein helps enhance brain and eye health. Lutein’s role in the prevention of age-related eye diseases like macular degeneration has been well studied. In the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (known as AREDS2), lutein and zeaxanthin supplements along with other antioxidant vitamins and minerals prevented participants with low lutein and zeaxanthin intake from progressing to advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD).1 In cataract patients, lutein supplementation three times each week improved visual acuity and sensitivity to glare.2
Lutein and zeaxanthin may also help aging adults maintain their brain health and prevent the types of decline that occur with aging. Even as the brain ages, lutein and zeaxanthin continue to be the predominant carotenoids in the brain. Research has found that macular pigment density, the amount of lutein and zeaxanthin isomers - RR-zeaxanthin and RS-zeaxanthin (or meso-zeaxanthin) in the macula of the eye, is linked to cognitive function in healthy older adults. Researchers examined the brains of deceased octogenerians that had been enrolled in a study of cognitive health. Lutein was the only carotenoid in brain tissue that was associated with a wide range of cognitive measures taken prior to these subjects' deaths. 3
When older women were supplemented with lutein, the omega-3 fatty acid DHA or a combination of both, verbal fluency improved in all three groups. Memory scores and learning responses also improved in those who received DHA plus lutein.4
Older adults also need to continue to protect their skin, particularly as aging skin becomes more sensitive to the sun. In other words, you’re never too old for lutein.
1 J Am Med Assoc. 2013;309(19):2005–15
2 Nutr. 2003 Jan;19(1):21–4
3 J Aging Res. 2013: 1–13
4 J Neurosci. 2008;28(47):12176–82