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This month we are going to discuss lutein & zeaxanthin.  They are powerful antioxidants that are known to reduce the risk of AMD (macular degeneration) as well as cataracts.  So what exactly are they?  Lutein is synthesized only by plants and is related to betacarotene and Vitamin A.  Lutein rich foods include leafy green vegetables, broccoli, corn, orange pepper, kiwi fruit, grapes, orange juice, zucchini, and squash. Lutein is absorbed best when it is taken with a high-fat meal. Lutein is found in your eyes:  the lens, retina, and macula. It is thought to function as a light filter, protecting the eye tissues from sunlight damage.  Zeaxanthin is synthesized in plants and some micro-organisms, it is the pigment that gives paprika, corn, saffron, and many other plants their characteristic color.  It is also contained our retinas.

Together, lutein & zeaxanthin protect our eyes from harmful high-energy light waves like ultraviolet rays in sunlight. Studies suggest that a high level of both in eye tissue is linked with better vision, especially in dim light or where glare is a problem.  There are many supplements on the market that contain these nutrients.  Studies have shown that eating a diet rich in lutein & zeaxanthin can help prevent cataracts and/or slow the progression of macular degeneration.  Mixing these nutrients with Vitamin C & E have also shown to support healthy eyes.

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