Lutein Benefits Brain Function When Consumed Late In Life

We know the importance of lutein and zeaxanthin (L and Z) for the eyes in protecting against macular degeneration. More recently, studies have shown a connection between L and Z and brain health. L and Z accumulate in human brain tissue and account for more than two-thirds of the total carotenoid in the brain. The latest evidence suggests that eating a carotenoid-rich diet when middle-aged may correlate with better long-term episodic memory, verbal fluency, working memory and executive functioning. The latest studies have reported a positive correlation between MPOD (a measure of the density of carotenoids, such as L and Z, in the eye’s macula), L and Z blood concentrations and cognitive function in older adults. This is the first long term study to use fMRI, which measures the changes that occur in brain activity, to look at learning and memory recall in older adults taking L and Z versus those receiving a placebo.

Study Particulars

Forty four community dwelling adults (mean age 72 years) were randomly assigned to receive either placebo or L and Z supplementation (12 mg/daily) for 1 year. Attention span was assessed at baseline and post-intervention. Macular Pigment Optical Density (MPOD) was also measured. The participants were asked to learn 10 pairs of unrelated words by viewing them for a total of 3 seconds; they were then shown the first word in each pair for 3 seconds and asked to recall the second word. A fMRI recorded their brain activity during the task. It also measured the amount of L and Z deposited in the brain and compared that with how the brain handled critical functions such as learning and memory.

What This Study Adds

L and Z supplementation (12 mg/d for 12 months) significantly increased MPOD compared to that of the control group. This is the first clinical study to demonstrate a correlation between an increase in MPOD, the amount of L and Z deposited in the brain and the activation of brain activity associated with learning (A) and memory recall (B). L and Z supplementation may improve neurocognitive function even if consumed starting late in life.


70% of adults reported loss of vision as the single most impactful lifestyle-altering health problem because it would lead to a significant loss in their quality of life. Promoting healthy vision begins in childhood with Brain & Eyes (2.3 mg lutein) and continues into adulthood with Total Vision Care (20 mg of lutein and 2.3 mg zeaxanthin). The active nutrients in both formulations are suspended in fish oil (EPA and DHA) using Platinum Naturals’ award winning Superior Nutrient Absorption. Healthy oils protect nutrient value so that your body absorbs more of what it needs throughout the day. Suspending lutein in fish oil is critical for targeting lutein delivery to the brain. Total Vision Care is the only supplement recognized by the Vision Institute of Canada. Lindbergh, C.A., Renzi-Hammond, L.M., Hammond, B.R., Terry, D.P., Mewborn, C.M., Puente, A.N. and Miller, L.S. (2018) Lutein and Zeaxanthin influence brain function in older adults: a randomized controlled trial. J International Neuropsychological Society 24: 77-90. (first published online July 11, 2017) Hot Topic Small Talk – Volume 3, Number 3