Lutein and Zeaxanthin in the Diet
Unlike many other nutrients, lutein and zeaxanthin cannot be made by our bodies. Luckily we can get them by enjoying a broad range of fruits and vegetables or through supplements.
Since lutein and zeaxanthin isomers are yellow pigments, you might think they are only found in yellow foods like corn, egg yolks and yellow squash. While those are all good sources of lutein and RR-zeaxanthin, they are even more prevalent in dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and collard greens—their color hidden by the green pigment – chlorophyll – in those plants. Other excellent sources of lutein and RR-zeaxanthin are kiwi fruit, grapes and zucchini.1 RS-zeaxanthin (or meso-zeaxanthin) can be found in 21 species of fish skin, shrimp shells and turtle fat, as well as some eggs.
Given how reluctant many people are to eat their green vegetables, it’s not surprising that intake of lutein and zeaxanthin is low: men and women less than 50 years of age consume, on average, less than 2 mg/day. Many researchers, however, are using 12 mg of lutein and zeaxanthin per day to determine their effects on healthy vision.
1 Br J Ophthalmol 1998;82:907–910