How do eye vitamins work

See sharply with zeaxanthin?

What's behind the Zeaxanthin advertisement?

Eye problems such as dryness, irritation or decreased vision become more noticeable as you get older. Dietary supplements should make the eyes "sharp" or "fit" again and protect them from the consequences of intensive work at the computer screen. Zeaxanthin is added to most eye capsules that promote eyesight. It is not sufficiently proven whether the additional intake in capsule form improves eyesight. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) therefore rejected advertising claims in connection with zeaxanthin.

On the other hand, other substances can benefit the eyesight: vitamins A, B2 and zinc. Certain advertising statements relating to eye health are permitted for these substances, for example: "... contributes to the maintenance of normal eyesight". On the products it then looks as if these statements also apply to zeaxanthin.

What should I look out for when using food supplements containing zeaxanthin?

According to the European Food Safety Authority, an intake of up to 2 mg zeaxanthin per day does not pose any health concerns.

For food supplements, zeaxanthin is produced synthetically or from extracts of the petals of marigold (marigold). The name is still only: Zeaxanthin.

What does the body need zeaxanthin for?

In addition to lutein, zeaxanthin is enriched in the yellow spot, Latin: macula, of the retina of the eye. They form the macular pigment, which protects against harmful wavelengths of light and free radicals. Lutein and zeaxanthin filter blue light and therefore appear yellow. This is how you give the yellow spot its color.

Lutein and zeaxanthin likely play a role in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Recognized risk factors for AMD include age, hereditary predisposition, smoking and high blood pressure. AMD appears to be more likely to affect women than men. Excessive exposure to light (especially blue light) also has a negative effect, as a result of which more free radicals are formed. In addition to all these factors, an undersupply of nutrients that have an antioxidant effect is suspected to have an influence on AMD.

The eye clinic of the University Hospital Bonn points out that a balanced healthy diet preventive regarding various eye diseases such as AMD, glaucoma or Grey star be. Important eye vitamin donors are peppers, carrots, beetroot, broccoli, lamb's lettuce, currants and citrus fruits. Green vegetables such as spinach, peas or kale are not only vitamin bombs, but also contain lutein, a substance with a certain protective effect on the retina. A so-called Mediterranean diet has proven to be particularly positive. This consists of a lot of vegetables, fish and olive oil, but only little meat or dairy products.

When discussing zeaxanthin and lutein and their significance for the eye, reference is made to scientific studies. Two US studies (AREDS I and II) gave hope to many patients with eye problems. The studies investigated whether a high-dose mix of nutrients consisting primarily of vitamins C, E, zinc, copper, lutein and zeaxanthin can influence age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In some of the study participants, the progression of AMD was slowed down.

The results of the AREDS studies can only be applied to preparations with the same composition and dosage. Patients should discuss with their doctor whether and which means are possible.

What is zeaxanthin?

Zeaxanthin is derived from “zea mays” = corn and “xanthós” = sand yellow. Zeaxanthin is one of the orange-yellow carotenoids that give various plants their yellow, orange or reddish color. They are considered to be secondary phytonutrients or plant dyes. In nature, zeaxanthin occurs together with lutein. Like other carotenoids, zeaxanthin is only consumed through food. The body cannot synthesize them itself, nor can it convert other carotenoids.

It is found in red peppers, pumpkin, corn and egg yolks, but also in dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and savoy cabbage, lettuce; Dill and parsley.

When cooked slowly at low temperatures, zeaxanthin is relatively heat-stable. It is generally better available to the body from cooked vegetables than from raw vegetables. Zeaxanthin is fat soluble. If fats are eaten at the same time as zeaxanthin, absorption in the intestine and overall availability are improved.

Our tip:
Do not take zeaxanthin in isolation as a dietary supplement, but with natural foods. 150 grams of spinach can already contain 0.525 mg of zeaxanthin, and 100 grams of red pepper 2.2 mg. This is comparable to the recommended daily dose for most zeaxanthin-containing food supplements. The vegetable meals can then be prepared with olive and rapeseed oil or butter.



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EFSA: Statement on the safety of synthetic zeaxanthin as an ingredient in food supplements, EFSA Journal 2012; 10 (10): 2891 (accessed on: January 19, 2021)

EFSA: Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to zeaxanthin and maintenance of normal vision (ID 1684, 2169, 2888) pursuant to Article 13 (1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006; EFSA Journal 2010: 8 (10): 1724 (accessed on: 19.01.2021)

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German Ophthalmological Society, Retinological Society, Professional Association of Ophthalmologists in Germany (2014): Current statement on dietary supplements for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). (accessed on January 19, 2021)

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University Hospital Bonn: Measures to preserve eyesight in old age. Press release 11/2021 from January 14th, 2021