What Is Lutein Good For? (Benefits & Side Effects)

Medically Reviewed on 8/4/2022
Lutein protects healthy cells and prevents the growth of cancerous cells.

Lutein is an antioxidant in the carotenoid family. It is abundantly present in leafy greens and orange-yellow vegetables, as well as available as dietary supplements.

Lutein is crucial to protect the eyes from macular degeneration and cataracts, as well as maintain eye health. Additionally, it might protect the skin and cardiovascular system.

Although there is no official daily lutein intake recommendation, studies report that 6 to 20 mg/day (10 mg/day for most people) provides health advantages.

  • Having fruits and vegetables high in certain carotenoids can support healthy eyesight. 
  • Though there are over 600 different forms of carotenoids in the human body, only lutein and zeaxanthin are concentrated in the macula of healthy eyes.
  • These two compounds are frequently used together to prevent or slow the progression of vision loss.

What benefits does lutein have for your eyes?

The antioxidant properties of lutein help prevent age-related vision loss or disorders by fighting free radical damage brought on by blue light or sun exposure, a poor diet, and other factors. These include problems, such as macular degeneration and cataracts.

Lutein protects healthy cells and prevents the growth of cancerous cells.

One of the most important functions of the lens within the eyes is to collect and focus light on the retina. That is why the lens must remain “clear” and free of the cloudiness associated with cataracts. The main cause of cloudiness in the lens is oxidation damage. As a result, antioxidants are required to help neutralize free radicals.

Lutein-rich foods should be consumed in sufficient quantities by everyone to lower the danger of oxidative damage, which can eventually result in diseases.

In addition to its role in eye health, lutein has several other benefits, such as lowering the risk of type II diabetes, skin conditions, cancer, and coronary heart disease.

5 health benefits of lutein

Aside from eye health, some supporters of alternative medicine suggest that lutein supplements can help against colon cancer, breast cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

  1. Age-related macular degeneration
    • In those with age-related macular degeneration, lutein supplementation may enhance visual function. Higher intakes of bioavailable lutein and zeaxanthin were linked to a reduced long-term risk of developing severe age-related macular degeneration according to one study that studied 100,000 individuals from 1984 to 2010.
    • A different study discovered that taking lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids together enhanced visual acuity, especially at levels above 20 mg per day.
  2. Help protect skin health
    • Lutein helps filter high-energy visible light wavelengths (ultraviolet rays), which protects the skin and fights skin cancer. According to several animal studies, lutein significantly reduces the risk of skin cancer and other light-induced skin damage, including the appearance of aging skin symptoms.
  3. Cataracts
    • Cataracts are brought on by proteins that accumulate on the eye's lens over time, and they can obstruct vision. According to research, increased intakes of lutein may help reduce the risk of cataracts, particularly nuclear cataracts (those in the center of the lens).
  4. Eye fatigue
    • Eye tiredness and glare sensitivity are likely to have affected you at some point if you spend your entire day in front of a computer, TV, or smartphone. There is proof that increasing lutein intake can improve eyesight and lessen glare sensitivity in people with normal vision.
  5. Atherosclerosis
    • Lutein may help lessen the oxidation of blood lipids, including triglycerides and cholesterol. As a result, fewer blood lipids adhere to the inner lining of arterial walls, lowering the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease.


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What is lutein?

Carotenoids are pigments, such as lutein and zeaxanthin. They are related to beta-carotene and lycopene, among other carotenoids.

Lutein-rich foods or supplements are easily transported throughout the body, particularly to the macula and lens of the eyes. There are over 600 different types of carotenoids found in nature, but only about 20 of them make it to the eyes. Only zeaxanthin and lutein are found in high concentrations in the macular portion of the eyes.

What are the potential side effects of lutein?

When used orally in the recommended dosages, lutein and lutein supplements are probably safe.

Lutein supplements should be used with caution in some patients, such as those who have skin cancer or cystic fibrosis. Before using any dietary supplement regularly, you must speak to your doctor.

Dietary supplements are mainly unregulated and do not undergo any strict testing like drugs. The product may occasionally produce dosages that are different from what is recommended for each herb. In other instances, the product could be contaminated with different materials like heavy metals. Additionally, it is unknown whether supplements are safe for use by persons who are pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition, or are taking any medicines.

What are the dosage and preparation of lutein?

Consuming 6.9 to 11.7 mg of lutein per day is safe. Lutein supplements have been used safely in doses of up to 15 mg daily for up to two years in studies. Furthermore, health experts suggest that taking up to 20 mg of lutein through diet and supplements is safe.

High doses of lutein may cause carotenemia or skin yellowing, which is completely harmless.

What are the food sources for lutein?

Lutein is found in the highest concentrations in:

  • green, leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, and collard greens,
  • zucchini,
  • squash,
  • broccoli,
  • corn,
  • peas, and
  • brussels sprouts.

Lutein is fat-soluble, which means they are best absorbed when consumed with fat, such as olive oil or butter. Though eggs contain less lutein per serving than leafy greens and other vegetables, the fat in the yolks may improve its absorption.

Lutein capsules are available as a dietary supplement.

Source of lutein (mg) per cup (according to the US Department of Agriculture):

Table. Food sources of lutein (according to the US Department of Agriculture)
Food Amount of lutein (milligrams)
Spinach, cooked 20 mg
Collard greens, cooked 12 mg
Kale, cooked 5.9 mg
Zucchini, cooked 4.2 mg
Squash, cooked 2.9 mg
Brussels sprouts 2.4 mg
Corn, canned 2.2 mg
Peas, canned 2.2 mg
Broccoli 1.6 mg
Eggs (1 large) 0.2 mg

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Medically Reviewed on 8/4/2022
Image Source: iStock image

Lutein and Zeaxanthin for Vision. https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/lutein-zeaxanthin-vision

The Effect of Lutein on Eye and Extra-Eye Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6164534/

Lutein - Uses, Side Effects, and More. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-754/lutein

What is Lutein? https://foodinsight.org/what-is-lutein/b