Increasing evidence suggests a beneficial effect of lutein and zeaxanthin on the progression of age-related macular degeneration. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of lutein or zeaxanthin enriched eggs or a lutein enriched egg-yolk based buttermilk beverage on serum lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations and macular pigment levels. Naturally enriched eggs were made by increasing the levels of the xanthophylls lutein and zeaxanthin in the feed given to laying hens. One hundred healthy volunteers were recruited and randomized into 5 groups for 90 days. Group one added one normal egg to their daily diet and group two received a lutein enriched egg-yolk based beverage. Group three added one lutein enriched egg and group four one zeaxanthin enriched egg to their diet. Group five was the control group and individuals in this group did not modify their daily diet. Serum lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations and macular pigment densities were obtained at baseline, day 45 and day 90. Macular pigment density was measured by heterochromatic flicker photometry. Serum lutein concentration in the lutein enriched egg and egg yolk-based beverage groups increased significantly (p<0.001, 76% and 77%). A strong increase in the serum zeaxanthin concentration was observed in individuals receiving zeaxanthin enriched eggs (P< 0.001, 430%). No changes were observed in macular pigment density in the various groups tested. The results indicate that daily consumption of lutein or zeaxanthin enriched egg yolks as well as an egg yolk-based beverage show increases in serum lutein and zeaxanthin levels that are comparable with a daily use of 5 mg supplements.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00527553.