Our vision is one of the most valuable assets we have–making sure we keep it is in our best interest. So it’s naturally understandable for people to be concerned about the side effects of lutein in their diets.
In case you don’t already know, lutein is a cartenoid located in the macula, which is a portion of the retina in our eye. Basically, the macula is responsible for our eyes’ central vision and carotenoids are organic pigements that sense light.
Lutein protects our eyes from environmental stresses–such as excess sunlight and extremely dim environments. Both lutein and zeaxanthin absorb the sun’s harmful rays and also neutralize free radicals in the retina. That’s why it is heavily advocated for better eye health.
We can obtain lutein in the foods we eat–carrots, squash, pumpkin, and other yellow and orange fruits and dark, leafy green vegetables provide adequate amounts of lutein. Consumption of these foods would obviously make you healthier overall. On average, we get 3 milligrams of lutein per day from eating these healthy foods.
The good news, as you might expect, is that simply eating these lutein rich foods will not result in any adverse side effects.
However, there is one possible side effect to large doses of carotenoids, whether it be lutein or zeaxanthin. In large doses (either through food or supplements) they can turn your skin orange, especially the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet.
This coloration is completely harmless and will go away when you reduce your intake of lutein and zeaxanthin. In extremely rare cases, bronzing of the skin may occur–however, this is not a dangerous condition and generally goes away on its own.
Another minor side effect involves taking too much of one carotenoid. Some findings indicate taking too much zeaxanthin, for instance, may interfere with the functioning of the other carotenoid, such as lutein. It is therefore advisable to take both carotenoids in equal proportion and in adequate quantities.
Many of us take nutritional supplements to ensure proper amounts of lutein are consumed every day. They may contain 6 milligrams or more of lutein which is consistent with current guidelines.
However, these guidelines were set many years ago, and many health experts now recommend at least 20-30 milligrams of lutein per day. You can gauge how much is enough by observing the color of your skin (as stated before this is a completely harmless side effect of taking too much lutein and can be reversed by reducing lutein intake).
In essence, there are no adverse side effects by taking lutein–either by consuming it in foods or vitamin supplements. In fact, many health experts recommend supplementation of lutein along with its cousin zeaxanthin. These are the two carotenoids within the retina–having enough of both of them can delay or prevent many eye diseases and can help promote better overall eye health.
So the next time you hear about side effects of lutein, take it with a grain of salt. Lutein has tremendous benefits for our visual and general health, while its downsides are nearly non-existent. For more information on lutein and supplements containing it, click on over to the site below.