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Lutein and zeaxanthin improve cognitive function

Most lutein and zeaxanthin studies have measured eye and vision health, but new evidence suggests these two carotenoids have cognitive benefits as well. Doctors in this study thought lower levels of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin would cause the brain to use more energy to function during normal tasks. In this study, researchers asked 40 adults, age 65 to 86, to recall pairs of words they had learned earlier.

During the recall activity, doctors analyzed brain activity via functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The fMRI revealed that those with higher levels of lutein and zeaxanthin needed less brain activity to complete the word-recall task compared to those whose lutein and zeaxanthin levels were lower. “On the surface, it looked like everyone was doing the same thing and recalling the same words,” doctors said, “but there were significant differences in brain activity based on carotenoid levels.”

 

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