Lutein and Zeaxanthin-Food Sources, Bioavailability and Dietary Variety in Age-Related Macular Degeneration Protection

Nutrients. 2017 Feb 9;9(2):120. doi: 10.3390/nu9020120.


Lutein and zeaxanthin (L/Z) are the predominant carotenoids which accumulate in the retina of the eye. The impact of L/Z intake on the risk and progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness in the developed world, has been investigated in cohort studies and clinical trials. The aims of this review were to critically examine the literature and evaluate the current evidence relating to L/Z intake and AMD, and describe important food sources and factors that increase the bioavailability of L/Z, to inform dietary models. Cohort studies generally assessed L/Z from dietary sources, while clinical trials focused on providing L/Z as a supplement. Important considerations to take into account in relation to dietary L/Z include: nutrient-rich sources of L/Z, cooking methods, diet variety and the use of healthy fats. Dietary models include examples of how suggested effective levels of L/Z can be achieved through diet alone, with values of 5 mg and 10 mg per day described. These diet models depict a variety of food sources, not only from dark green leafy vegetables, but also include pistachio nuts and other highly bioavailable sources of L/Z such as eggs. This review and the diet models outlined provide information about the importance of diet variety among people at high risk of AMD or with early signs and symptoms of AMD.

Keywords: lutein; age‐related  macular  degeneration; bioavailability; carotenoids; xanthophylls; zeaxanthin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Availability
  • Diet / methods*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Food Analysis*
  • Humans
  • Lutein / analysis*
  • Lutein / pharmacokinetics
  • Macular Degeneration / prevention & control*
  • Zeaxanthins / analysis*
  • Zeaxanthins / pharmacokinetics


  • Zeaxanthins
  • Lutein