Lutein is a naturally occurring antioxidant found in a wide range of fruits and vegetables. Classified as a carotenoid, this nutrient has a reputation for helping the eyes to function properly, both in terms of general health and their ability to process blue light. This antioxidant can be found in a number of different foods, notably dark green leafy vegetables such as kale and collards.
One of the main claims for the medicinal properties of lutein is that the carotenoid aids in reducing the chance of developing macular degeneration. Because a fair amount of the nutrient is stored in the eyes, it is thought to have a direct impact on the condition of the macula, the portion of the retina that determines the quality of central vision. There is also some evidence that lutein helps protect the eyes from free radicals, thus minimizing damage caused by the rays of the sun.
Along with fruits and vegetables, it is also possible to obtain lutein from various types of animal fats. Egg yolks are a particularly good source for the antioxidant, although the cholesterol content of the yolks sometimes inhibits using this resource. Consuming fruits such as kiwi and grapes along with turnip greens and similar vegetables is usually considered a better option.
It is also possible to utilize lutein supplements as a means of boosting the amount of the antioxidant in the body. In some cases, the lutein supplement is combined with other vitamins and thiamin to encourage healthy eyes. Combination lutein vitamins are offered for sale at most health food stores and vitamin shops. Herb shops sometimes carry blends of natural herbs that also contain significant amounts of the antioxidant in the mixture of ingredients.
At present, there is no universal minimum daily requirement established for lutein consumption. Some herbalists and alternative practitioners recommend six milligrams each day as a maintenance dose, with larger doses utilized to treat eyes that are tired. When larger doses are consumed regularly, there is the possibility of the skin taking on a slightly bronze tone, a side effect that many people would consider a benefit.
Testing of lutein and the role the antioxidant plays in maintaining the eyes continues to take place. Along with some results that indicate the carotenoid helps prevent macular degeneration, some research indicates that the substance can also help with blurred vision and sensitivity to various types of light. However, it must be noted that no research results from any study are accepted throughout the medical community. This means some physicians may recommend the use of a supplement product while others will employ different treatments for various eye problems.