Lutein, Spinach, and Macular Degeneration
By Balance of Nature - 09/28/2016

What is lutein?

Lutein is an abundant carotenoid found in many fruits and vegetables. Spinach and kale contain the highest level of lutein, but it is also present in corn and egg yolks.

Where is lutein found in the human body?

Lutein has been found in the eye, skin, cervix, and breast. Lutein is deposited in the macular region of the eye as well as the entire retina and lens.


How does lutein work?

Lutein belongs to a chemical class of compounds called carotenoids. As an antioxidant, lutein may protect the macula tissue from damaging oxidation by filtering blue light. Lutein absorbs damaging UV radiation and dissipates it harmlessly.

How much lutein should I consume?

There are no formal recommendations for lutein. Nutritionists use 6 milligrams per day as a good guideline, based on existing research.

What is a better source of lutein, cooked or raw vegetables?

The less processed something is, the better it is for you. It is also a better way to keep the nutrients in balance.


How much raw spinach do I need to consume to get 6 milligrams of lutein?

You must eat at least two ounces, or 58 grams, of fresh spinach to achieve the suggested daily dose of 6 milligrams per day. This is equivalent to at least two salad bowls of spinach per day. Only a small percentage of people consume 6 milligrams or more of lutein per day.

Can your body produce lutein?

No. Your body is unable to manufacture lutein. Consumption of either a balanced diet or dietary supplements are the only ways for your body to obtain lutein.


Should I take lutein supplements?

Although some studies show benefit from lutein in supplemental form, many studies show the greatest benefits come from getting lutein and zeaxanthin from a whole food source.

Top 5 Lutein Sources:
Collard Greens
Leaf Lettuce

What is the macula?

The macula is a small spot located directly behind the lens in the middle portion of the retina. It is responsible for central vision.

What is age-related macular degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in individuals over the age of 65 in the U.S. and in other industrialized countries. AMD occurs when the cells in the macula begin to break down, eventually causing loss of sight in the central part of the field of vision, but leaving peripheral vision intact.

Who is at high risk for macular degeneration?

There are several factors that may increase your risk of developing the disease: age, diet, lifetime exposure to sunlight, smoking, heredity, gender, race, eye color, alcohol consumption, and heart disease. For example, individuals with blue/green eyes, seniors, women, smokers, and Caucasians are all at higher risk.


What can I do to protect myself from AMD?

While there are factors over which you have no control such as age, heredity, and sex, you can improve your lifestyle. Here are some tips: wear sunglasses and brimmed hats that protect you from direct or reflected sunlight; eat a diet rich in fruits and leafy green vegetables (such as spinach); stop smoking; and limit your intake of alcohol, saturated fats, and cholesterol.