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Lutein, zeaxanthin, and the eye-brain connection

To function well, the brain needs the same antioxidants present in the eye.

In this follow-up to an earlier study, 69 healthy young adults took 20 mg of zeaxanthin per day, 26 mg of zeaxanthin plus 8 mg lutein and 190 mg omega-3s per day, or a placebo.

After four months, while the placebo group had not changed, both nutrient groups had 20 percent more antioxidant pigment in the macula of the eye, and were more quickly able to identify a moving object, its path, direction, and speed. Both zeaxanthin groups also reacted sooner to a fast-moving object, and were better able to detect and track the movement of fine detail against a background.

The findings are important because young healthy people should already be performing at peak efficiency and therefore resist improvement. Doctors don’t know how pigment in the eye affects processing speed in the brain, but believe lutein and zeaxanthin directly alter brain function.

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