The proper lutein dosage depends on your age and your current state of physical health, as well as other factors. There are no risks associated with high daily intakes, other than bronzing of the skin, which occurs with all carotenoids.
Carotenoids are pigments or colors. They combine with each other to form all of the colors of the rainbow.
Beta-carotene, the primary carotenoid found in carrots, is a red-orange pigment. Zeaxanthin, which is nearly identical, on a molecular level, to lutein, is a deep yellow-orange color. Lycopene is bright red.
All of the carotenoids are important to the health of the eyes and to visual acuity. Night blindness is usually caused by a lack of beta-carotene or other carotenoids in the diet.
Beta-carotene is converted within the body into vitamin A, an essential nutrient. Deficiencies are common in developing countries and can lead to total blindness. Hundreds of thousands of malnourished children go blind each year due to a lack of this common vitamin.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are found within the retina of the eye. The retina is a light-gathering mechanism that connects directly to the optic nerve.
It is believed that a daily lutein dosage supports the health of the retina and reduces the risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). The macula is a sensitive portion of the retina, responsible for central vision. ARMD is the most common cause of blindness or partial blindness in the elderly.
Most sources recommend supplements that contain a mixture of the carotenoids. But, just how much is enough? That’s the question that most people want to know.
Ideally, everyone’s diet would be rich in nutritious fruits and vegetables in an assortment of colors, which would prevent the need for supplementation. But, dietary preferences aside, fruits and vegetables simply are not as nutritious as they once were. In addition, lutein and zeaxanthin are micronutrients. They are present in foods in very small quantities in the best of situations.
Finding the correct lutein dosage is complicated by the fact that it is not considered an essential nutrient, like vitamin A. (Beta-carotene is typically recommended as a supplement to prevent vitamin A deficiency, because too much vitamin A from animal sources can be toxic.) As yet, there are no recommended daily allowances for micronutrients. But, some health experts, particularly those in the ophthalmic field, have made recommendations.
A 10mg lutein dosage should be sufficient for a child or a young person that does not suffer from any eye disease. For an adult, 50mg, combined with 6-10mg of zeaxanthin is recommended to help reduce the risk of AMRD and other age-related eye diseases.
If you are considering supplementation for the first time, look for one that contains lycopene, beta-carotene and a mixture of carotenoids, as well as other micronutrients. We might not know just what the optimal consumption is yet, but it stands to reason that many of us are not getting enough, since diseases like AMRD are so common.
The better multi-nutritional supplements contain a 50 lutein dosage. That’s what I take every day.