Can Diet Supplements of Macular Pigment of Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Meso-zeaxanthin Affect Cognition?

J Alzheimers Dis. 2022;87(3):1079-1087. doi: 10.3233/JAD-215736.


Background: Lutein (L), zeaxanthin (Z), and meso-zeaxanthin (MZ) are collectively called macular pigment. MZ can be converted from L in the macula. In the recent decade, many studies have been performed to investigate the effects for taking carotenoids, especially L and Z or L, Z, and MZ, as diet supplements on human health.

Objective: We examined if diet supplements of L + Z or L + Z + MZ have effects on cognitive function in adults.

Methods: A systemic literature search was performed in March 2021 with the following keywords: lutein, zeaxanthin, meso-zeaxanthin, cognition, cognitive, and macular pigment. The searched databases included Medline EBSCOhost, Scopus, Elsevier, Cochrane Library, ProQuest, and Findings from eight clinical trials were presented as the strongest evidence on the studied topic.

Results: Most studies have found that macular pigments (L + Z) in blood or macula are positively correlated with cognitive performance. As an index of the amount of macular pigments in the brain, macular pigment optical density is related to cognitive performance in adults. In addition, there is an inverse relationship between a higher amount of macular pigment in the blood and lower risk of mild cognitive impairments or Alzheimer's disease. Based on the findings from the clinical trials, diet supplements of L + Z or L + Z + MZ are associated with improved cognition in adults.

Conclusion: The diet supplements of L + Z or L + Z+MZ are associated with better cognitive functioning, which may be via their beneficial effects on the vision.

Keywords: Cognition; cognitive; lutein; macular pigment; meso-zeaxanthin; zeaxanthin.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cognition
  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Lutein
  • Macular Pigment*
  • Zeaxanthins / pharmacology


  • Macular Pigment
  • Zeaxanthins
  • meso-zeaxanthin
  • Lutein