Carotenoids and Eye Health
Carotenoids and Your Vision
The central part of the eye has a protective pigment layer that is very important to the health of your eyes. This layer is made up of three critical carotenoids: lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin. These carotenoids are called the macular pigments. Carotenoids are organic pigments that exist naturally in brightly colored and leafy plants, such as in spinach and carrots, and in some animal products like egg yolks.
Carotenoids Protect Your Eye Health in Two Ways
The three carotenoids that make up the macular pigments protect your eyes in two ways. First, they absorb the damaging UV rays from the sun. Your eye doctor has probably told you to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun. The macular pigments are like sunglasses inside the eye; they absorb the harmful rays before the UV rays can damage the central part of your vision.
Second, the carotenoids offer significant anti-oxidant protection for the central part of the eye and throughout the retina. The retina is the most active area of the body for metabolism. Because of all of the metabolic activity, the retina produces significant amounts of metabolic waste. Powerful anti-oxidants are needed to clean up this waste and ensure that they do not collect in the back of the eye. The macular pigment is responsible for cleaning up this metabolic waste, particularly around the most important central part of your vision. A healthy macular pigment means that these metabolic waste elements do not build up and damage the eye. It is impossible to restore and maintain the macular pigment from your diet without proper supplementation.
What is a Depleted Macular Pigment?
When the body does not get enough carotenoids, the macular pigments can become depleted. This depletion then leads to less protection for the eye from UV radiation and less antioxidant activity to protect the eye. Research now shows that many eye diseases are linked to a depleted macular pigment, including macular degeneration. Many older patients develop a depleted macular pigment and then, over time, the lack of protection leads to macular degeneration. Glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy patients are also now shown in research studies to have depleted macular pigments.
How Do I Build Up My Macular Pigment?
In order to keep your macular pigment from becoming depleted, you have to have sufficient macular carotenoids in your body, specifically lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin. Getting enough of these ingredients has become difficult for three reasons. First, our meals do not have the level of the carotenoids that they used to. It is impossible to eat and absorb enough carotenoids in our food sources to fully support the macular pigment. In fact, the average Western diet contains fewer than 3 mg of the macular pigments per day, yet 20 mg a day are needed to protect macular health.
Second, our bodies change as we age. Even if there are a lot of carotenoids in our food sources, older adults cannot absorb enough to fully support the health of macular pigment. Third and most importantly, the most important carotenoid, meso-zeaxanthin, is not found commonly in nature. This very important carotenoid has to be converted inside the eye from lutein. But, as we get older, we lose the ability to complete this conversion process.
What this means is that to fully support the health of the macular pigment and the overall retina, nutritional supplements, that contain all three carotenoids and a combination of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant ingredients, are essential. Further, because the body loses its ability to convert meso-zeaxanthin from lutein, direct supplementation of meso-zeaxanthin is the best option to ensure sufficient levels in the eye. That is, simply taking lutein or zeaxanthin will not guarantee a sufficient supply of meso-zeaxanthin; it has to be taken in a formula.
How Does Lumega-Z Help My Macular Pigment?
Lumega-Z is a Medical Food that contains all three macular pigments. It also contains a full dose of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant ingredients in order to support retinal health. This formula is in a micronized liquid form which ensures high absorption of the carotenoids and other ingredients. Putting all of these ingredients together in a liquid form makes it easy to build up your macular pigments and ensure retinal health. In fact, research shows that Lumega-Z has increased macular pigment density by up to 30% in patients, after only 3 to 6 months of treatment.
Lumega-Z is a Medical Food
Lumega-Z is the only vision-specific Medical Food. A Medical Food is defined by the FDA as a product which is formulated to be taken under medical supervision and which is intended for specific dietary management of a disease or condition. Lumega-Z has been specifically designed to restore and maintain a depleted macula pigment.
Watch the video below as Dr Sponsel explains what is a Medical Food.
Dr Sponsel Explains Medical Foods