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Lutein helps sleep quality by filtering blue light emitted by your phone

Exposure to high-energy blue light has side effects. Did you know the average American spends over 10 hours a day viewing screens?

With the increasing use of smartphones, tablets, and laptop computers, researchers are noticing troublesome links between exposure to artificial light (especially at night) and both reduced sleep quality and diminished alertness during the day. Eye fatigue, eye strain and headaches are also associated with the excessive exposure to high-energy, short-wavelength (blue) light produced from these devices.

Attempting to find a solution, scientists at the University of Georgia recruited 48 healthy, college-age adults who spent at least six hours daily viewing screens at a distance of three feet or less. They were split into two groups and took either a placebo or 20 mg of lutein plus 4 mg of zeaxanthin daily for six months (randomized, double-blind). Lutein and zeaxanthin are yellow-orange macular carotenoids that are known to increase Macular Pigment Optical Density (MPOD) and act as blue light filters that protect against photo-oxidation in the macula of the eye.

After three months, overall sleep quality increased in the lutein/zeaxanthin group compared to placebo. After six months, the lutein/zeaxanthin group also had reduced headache frequency, eye strain, and eye fatigue compared to placebo.

The researchers mentioned that the physical outcomes (eye fatigue, eye strain, headaches) were a direct result of increased MPOD in the eye, and that the improvements in sleep quality were likely the result of an overall reduction in oxidative stress and inflammation due to the potent antioxidant capacity of lutein and zeaxanthin.

Unlike many of the other studies on lutein in older adults, this study shows clear benefits of macular carotenoid supplementation in younger, college-age adults. It presents a simple solution for students stressed by too much ‘screen time’ in this digital age.

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