Everyone loves a deal. And it turns out if you’re taking a supplement for your vision, you may already be getting a two for one without even knowing it.
Because chances are that supplement isn’t just supporting your eyesight, it’s protecting your brain too!
Exciting new research has revealed one of the top vision vitamins, lutein, could fight brain aging, leaving you with a “younger” more agile brain.
More on that study in just a moment. But first let’s take a closer look at lutein.
Lutein linked to better vision AND memory
Lutein is a carotenoid, or plant pigment, that you’ll find in many brightly colored fruits and vegetables. In the past, we primarily thought of it as a vision nutrient.
And for good reason. The potent antioxidant helps protect your vision from harmful blue light and UV radiation. And experts say it can help head off age-related vision loss, cataracts and macular degeneration
But it turns out its role in brain function, learning, and memory may be even BIGGER. Especially if you’re a senior.
Most American’s don’t get nearly enough lutein, or its kissing-cousin carotenoid zeaxanthin, through their diet.
And that’s a shame, because University of Illinois researchers say the more of these two easy-to-find nutrients you have in your body the better off your brain is.
Dodge dementia with lutein and zeaxanthin
In fact, higher levels could help you avoid age-related cognitive decline so you’ll never end up having to battle dementia.
Researchers attached electrodes to the scalps of volunteers so they could literally watch their neurons firing as they had them perform a task that required them to concentrate.
As we age our neurons age right along with us. Changes in the number and size of branches and synapses can occur.
And how messages move across them can change too, slowing your thinking down.
But it turns out lutein could stop that brain-aging in its tracks, according to the research published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.1
Lutein linked to “younger” brains
The study revealed that the brain signals in the middle-aged folks with higher levels of lutein looked a lot like those in the brains of their younger peers.
And according to the researchers they were able to “engage more cognitive resources” to complete the task than other older folks whose lutein levels were far lower.
In other words, the nutrient appears to have protected their brains against aging.
Other recent research has hinted at a connection between brain health and lutein and zeaxanthin too. In fact, scientists say there’s a direct connection between the amount of these two nutrients in the macula of the eye and cognitive function.2
Research has found supplementing with the nutrients can improve verbal fluency, processing speed and memory no matter your age.3,4,5 And a study earlier this year found seniors with higher levels of these nutrients have overall better brain function.6
If you’re already taking an eye supplement with one or both of these nutrients that’s great. But you can also easily increase the amount of them in your diet too.
Leafy greens including kale, spinach and collard greens are loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin. Broccoli, zucchini, avocados, carrots, oranges, tomatoes and grapefruit are great sources too.
So go ahead and see your way to better memory, and a “younger” brain, with lutein.
1. “The Role of Retinal Carotenoids and Age on Neuroelectric Indices of Attentional Control among Early to Middle-Aged Adults,” Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 2017; 9
2. “The role of lutein in brain health and function,” Nutrafoods (2016) 15:179-188 DOI 10.17470/NF-016-1014-3
3. “A double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the effects of lutein and zeaxanthin on neural processing speed and efficiency, PLoS One. 2014 Sep 24;9(9):e108178. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0108178. eCollection 2014
4. “A randomized placebo-controlled study on the effects of lutein and zeaxanthin on visual processing speed in young healthy subjects,”
Arch Biochem Biophys. 2015 Apr 15;572:54-7
5. Cognitive findings of an exploratory trial of docosahexaenoic acid and lutein supplementation in older women. Nutri Neurosci. 2008 Apr;11:75-83