Lutein and zeaxanthin in the diet and serum and their relation to age-related maculopathy in the third national health and nutrition examination survey

Am J Epidemiol. 2001 Mar 1;153(5):424-32. doi: 10.1093/aje/153.5.424.


Relations of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin in the diet and serum to photographic evidence of early and late age-related maculopathy (ARM) among persons over age 40 years (n = 8,222) were examined. Inverse relations of these carotenoids in the diet or serum to any form of ARM were not observed overall. There was a direct relation of dietary levels to one type of early ARM (soft drusen). However, relations differed by age and race. In the youngest age groups who were at risk for developing early (ages 40-59 years) or late (ages 60-79 years) ARM, higher levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in the diet were related to lower odds for pigmentary abnormalities, one sign of early ARM (odds ratio among persons in high vs. low quintiles = 0.1, 95 percent confidence interval: 0.1, 0.3) and of late ARM (odds ratio = 0.1, 95 percent confidence interval: 0.0, 0.9) after adjustment for age, gender, alcohol use, hypertension, smoking, and body mass index. Relations of these carotenoids to ARM may be influenced by age and race and require further evaluation in separate populations and in prospective studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lutein / blood*
  • Macular Degeneration / epidemiology*
  • Macular Degeneration / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Xanthophylls
  • Zeaxanthins
  • beta Carotene / analogs & derivatives
  • beta Carotene / blood*


  • Xanthophylls
  • Zeaxanthins
  • beta Carotene
  • Lutein