Lutein bioavailability is higher from lutein-enriched eggs than from supplements and spinach in men

J Nutr. 2004 Aug;134(8):1887-93. doi: 10.1093/jn/134.8.1887.


Lutein may be protective against diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). At present, data regarding bioavailability of lutein from various sources are insufficient. Healthy men (n = 10) participated in an intervention study with a crossover design. After a 2-wk washout period during which they consumed a low-carotenoid diet, the men were administered 1 of 4 lutein doses (lutein supplement, lutein ester supplement, spinach, and lutein-enriched egg) for 9 d. All lutein doses provided 6 mg lutein except for the lutein ester dose, which provided 5.5 mg lutein equivalents. Serum samples were collected from fasting subjects on d -14, 1 (baseline), 2, 3, and 10 and analyzed for changes in lutein concentration. Triacylglycerol-rich lipoproteins (TRL) were separated from postprandial blood samples (0-24 h) after the first lutein dose and analyzed for lutein concentration. Subjects completed all 4 treatments of the study in random order. Results from repeated-measures 1-way ANOVA showed that the baseline and dose-adjusted lutein response in serum was significantly higher after egg consumption than after lutein, lutein ester, and spinach consumption on d 10. There was no significant difference in TRL response. In conclusion, the lutein bioavailability from egg is higher than that from other sources such as lutein, lutein ester supplements, and spinach. The lutein bioavailability from lutein, lutein ester supplements, and spinach did not differ. This finding may have implications for dietary recommendations that may decrease the risk of certain diseases, e.g., ARMD.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biological Availability
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Eggs*
  • Food Analysis
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins / blood
  • Lutein / administration & dosage
  • Lutein / blood
  • Lutein / pharmacokinetics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Spinacia oleracea*


  • Lipoproteins
  • Lutein