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Patients With AMD Can Restore Lutein Levels with Supplements
Des Moines IA, 19 November 2002

New university research shows that low ocular levels of antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin -- carotenoids found in dark green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale -- could contribute to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The research also shows that AMD patients who had begun taking high-dose lutein supplements (4 milligrams or more per day) regularly after their initial diagnosis of AMD were able return those levels back to normal.

The research, led by Paul S. Bernstein, MD, PhD, at the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Moran Eye Center, University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, was published in the October 2002 issue of Ophthalmology (volume 109, pages 1780-1787), the peer-reviewed medical journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). Bernstein is a Research to Prevent Blindness Sybil B. Harrington Scholar in macular degeneration research. The National Eye Institute, Spectrotek LC, and Kemin Foods(R) L.C. also support Bernstein's research.

"This research is a major step toward large-scale clinical studies to prove the extent to which lutein and zeaxanthin protect against age-related macular degeneration," Bernstein said. "We know that these carotenoids are specifically concentrated in the macula of the human eye."(1,2)

This research compares the macular pigment levels of healthy eyes with those eyes of people with AMD. For the first time, researchers were able to objectively measure lutein and zeaxanthin levels in the eyes of living people in a large-scale clinical study. Bernstein measured macular carotenoid levels in 93 eyes from 63 patients with AMD and in 220 normal eyes from 138 volunteers using resonance Raman spectroscopy.

The researchers found that macular carotenoid levels decline with age, reaching a stable low level after age 60, the age when AMD incidence begins to rise dramatically. They also found that macular pigment levels in the eyes of AMD patients not consuming high-dose lutein supplements were 32 percent lower than elderly normal eyes.

"These results taken together lead us to believe that low macular levels of lutein and zeaxanthin represent a pathogenic risk factor for the development of AMD,"(1-6) Bernstein said. "As a safeguard, patients at risk for visual loss from AMD should consider supplementing their diets with at least 4 mg of lutein each day along with other antioxidant nutrients."

For more information about the value of lutein, consult the Lutein Information Bureau website at www.luteininfo.com.

About Kemin Foods

Kemin Foods, LC, is a global manufacturer and marketer of natural ingredients for the food, dietary supplement and personal care markets. Headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, the company is part of Kemin Industries, which has manufacturing facilities in Iowa, Texas, Belgium, India, Singapore and Thailand. Kemin Foods is the maker of FloraGLO® brand lutein.


  1. Snodderly DM, Brown PK, Delori FC, Auran JD. The macular pigment. Absorbance spectra, localization, and discrimination from other yellow pigments in primate retinas. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, 1984;25:660-73.

  2. Bone RA, Landrum JT, Fernandez L, Tarsis SL. Analysis of the macular pigment by HPLC: Retinal distribution and age study. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, 1988;29:843-9.

  3. Landrum JT, Bone RA. Lutein, zeaxanthin, and the macular pigment. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, 2001: 385:28-40.

  4. Bernstein PS, Katz NB. The role of ocular free radicals in age-related macular degeneration. In: Fuchs J, Packer L, eds, Environmental Stressors in Health and Disease, New York: Marcel Decker, 2001:423-56.

  5. Beatty S, Koh HH, Henson D, Boulton M. The role of oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration. Survey of Ophthalmology, 2000;45;115-34.

  6. Beatty S, Murray IJ, Henson DB, et al. Macular pigment and risk for age-related macular degeneration in subjects from a northern European population. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, 2001;42:439-46.


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