What are the Most Common Lutein Side Effects?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Lutein is a nutrient that is found in many types of food, including green leafy vegetables like kale or collards, various fruits, and even in the yolks of eggs. The primary benefit of this nutrient is to support eye function and health. While a reasonable amount is healthy, it is possible to experience several lutein side effects if the amount absorbed each day is excessive.

Skin might become discolored when too much lutein, from sources such as kale, is ingested.
Skin might become discolored when too much lutein, from sources such as kale, is ingested.

The single most common of all lutein side effects is a discoloration of the skin. This condition, known as carotenosis, is brought on by the presence of carotenoids in the lutein. The end result is that too much of the nutrient leaves the skin with a somewhat yellowish tinge. Rarely do individuals develop carotenosis due to consuming foods containing the nutrient. More often, the problem can arise when packaged supplements are used, since the body has a harder time absorbing the necessary amount and flushing the remainder from the system. For this reason, many healthcare professionals encourage patients to obtain lutein through the diet rather than taking a supplement.

Side effects of lutein may include breathing difficulties.
Side effects of lutein may include breathing difficulties.

Some of the other common lutein side effects include itching at various points on the skin, as well as in the eyes. An excessive amount of the nutrient may cause some flushing of the face and a slight tingling that develops into itching on the forehead and the cheeks. There are reported cases where the itching also occurred on the legs and arms. When the itchy sensation occurs in the eyes, it often feels like sand has gotten into the eyes and cannot be removed.

Lutien may cause itching of the eyes.
Lutien may cause itching of the eyes.

There are less common lutein side effects that may take place. Some people find that too much lutein in the body makes it harder to swallow, which can make it harder to consume meals or take medication. Others notice that they seem to have some amount of chest pain, or that breathing becomes slightly more difficult. The side effects may linger for some time, or seem to appear at random, making it more difficult to associate them with an overabundance of the nutrient in the body.

An excessive amount of lutein may cause flushing of the face.
An excessive amount of lutein may cause flushing of the face.

In some cases, the different lutein side effects may be mild, while at other times they may be somewhat more pronounced. Since all these lutein side effects can also be symptoms of various types of health issues, consulting a physician is a good idea. Once those other ailments are ruled out, adjusting the diet and use of supplements to lower the amount of lutein ingested each day should cause the side effects to disappear.

Too much lutein in the body may cause swallowing difficulties.
Too much lutein in the body may cause swallowing difficulties.
Lutein may be found in the yolks of eggs.
Lutein may be found in the yolks of eggs.
Too much lutein in the body may result in chest pain.
Too much lutein in the body may result in chest pain.
The vision-related side effects associated with high levels of lutein are often said to feel like sand in the eye.
The vision-related side effects associated with high levels of lutein are often said to feel like sand in the eye.
Lutein side effects may include itchiness.
Lutein side effects may include itchiness.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments

anon982161

Of all the side effects of taking too much Lutein, none are scary.

I've read that the liver of the polar bear is so highly concentrated in Vitamin D that it is fatal when consumed, even if only a tiny bit is eaten. That is a bad side effect, kiddies so if you head up North (and I do mean Up North) do not, I repeat: "Do not" eat any part of a polar bear's liver. (and don't let him eat any part of you). "nuff said?

Mor

It sounds like the lutein supplements side effects can be quite unpleasant, particularly since they aren't that strong. It would be pretty awful to be feeling itchy or finding it difficult to breathe sometimes and not realize what was actually happening.

At least it sounds like they are probably not fatal. I know there are plenty of supplements where that isn't the case and people do occasionally overdose on them. Still, I think with all of these things it's better to be safe than sorry.

umbra21

@bythewell - I wonder if it works the same way if you are eating other kinds of carrots. The orange type is actually a fairly recent breed that was developed because it was the national color of one of the European countries (I forget which one) and it just caught on. But you can get purple and white and other colored carrots as well. I wonder if they all turn you orange, or if they turn you the color that they contain?

I guess mostly likely the other kinds don't have much lutein, which is what makes the orange color in ordinary carrots, so they probably don't effect people the same way.

bythewell

I remember when I was a kid I was really fond of carrots and my mother always used to tease me that I would end up turning orange.

When, as a teenager, I had access to the internet and I remembered that she had said that I thought I would look it up and present her with the evidence that she was wrong and that there was nothing wrong with having too many carrots.

Lo and behold, I was the one who was wrong. There have actually been cases where someone has had too many carrots and has ended up tinting their skin orange. Who would have thought?

It sounds like lutein supplements would make it even easier to do this by accident though. I didn't even realize it was a thing you could take supplements for, so I don't think I'm in much danger.

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register: