Plasma kinetics of zeaxanthin and 3'-dehydro-lutein after multiple oral doses of synthetic zeaxanthin

Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Mar;79(3):410-7. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/79.3.410.


Background: Zeaxanthin is hypothesized to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration; however, kinetic information is limited.

Objectives: The objective was to investigate the plasma kinetics of synthetic zeaxanthin after repeated oral doses and to assess the possible influence of other carotenoids on plasma zeaxanthin concentrations.

Design: After a run-in of 3 d, 20 healthy volunteers assigned to 2 parallel dose groups received once daily oral doses of either 1 mg (1.76 micro mol) or 10 mg (17.6 micro mol) zeaxanthin for 42 d. Plasma concentration-time profiles on days 1 and 42, concentrations immediately before zeaxanthin intake during the dosing period, and concentrations after the last dose until day 76 were monitored.

Results: all-E-Zeaxanthin concentrations increased from 0.048 +/- 0.026 micro mol/L at baseline to 0.20 +/- 0.07 and 0.92 +/- 0.28 micro mol/L with 1 and 10 mg zeaxanthin, respectively. The dose-normalized bioavailability of all-E-zeaxanthin after the10-mg dose was 40% lower (P < 0.001) than after the 1-mg dose. Other kinetic parameters did not differ significantly between groups. After 17 d of dosing, >90% of steady state concentrations were reached, which was compatible with an effective half-life for accumulation of 5 d. The terminal elimination half-life was 12 +/- 7 d (n = 20). The time course of plasma all-E-3-'dehydro-lutein concentrations resembled that of all-E-zeaxanthin. The data provided evidence that all-E-3-'dehydro-lutein was derived from all-E-zeaxanthin. Concentrations of other carotenoids were not affected. Zeaxanthin was well tolerated.

Conclusion: Long-term oral intake of 1 and 10 mg zeaxanthin as beadlets increases plasma zeaxanthin concentrations approximately 4- and 20-fold, respectively. Evidence that all-E-3-dehydro-lutein is formed from zeaxanthin was strong.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Biological Availability
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lutein / blood
  • Lutein / chemistry
  • Lutein / pharmacokinetics*
  • Macular Degeneration / blood
  • Macular Degeneration / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Xanthophylls
  • Zeaxanthins
  • beta Carotene / administration & dosage
  • beta Carotene / analogs & derivatives
  • beta Carotene / blood
  • beta Carotene / pharmacokinetics*


  • Xanthophylls
  • Zeaxanthins
  • beta Carotene
  • Lutein