With the eyes and brain so closely connected, it comes as no surprise that lutein is emerging as a key ingredient in cognitive health.
Recent findings from pediatric brain tissue studies have shown that about 60% of the total carotenoids in the pediatric brain tissue is lutein, and yet NHANES data show that lutein is only about 12% of the carotenoids in the diets, so there is a preference for lutein in the brain (Vishwanathan et al. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2014).
The mechanism of action for lutein is probably more than its action as an antioxidant, since there is a lot more alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) in the brain than lutein, but no link between alpha-tocopherol and cognitive function.
A recently published paper by Billy Hammond’s group at the University of Georgia (Neurobiology of Aging, 2014, Vol. 35, pp. 1695-9) reported that macular pigment optical density (MPOD), which is representative of lutein and zeaxanthin status, was related to general cognition in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), while MPOD was only related to visual-spatial and constructional abilities in healthy older adults.
“The present data are the first to relate function in cognitively impaired individuals with an in vivo measure of lutein and zeaxanthin in central nervous system tissue and, to our knowledge, the first to relate function in MCI persons to lutein and zeaxanthin status,” they wrote.
To read our article about lutein and brain health, please click HERE.