Background: Lutein and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Lutein is a component of macular pigment. DHA is in the retina. [Lutein is a pigment especially plentiful in orange, yellow, and green leafy vegetables. DHA is an omega-3 faty acid made from alpha-linolenic acid which is found predominantly in flaxseed oil.]
Objective: The objective of this 4-mo study was to determine the effects of lutein (12 mg/d) and DHA (800 mg/d) on their serum concentrations and macular pigment optical density (MPOD).
Design: Forty-nine women (60–80 y) were randomly assigned to placebo, DHA, lutein, or lutein + DHA supplement. Serum was analyzed for lutein and DHA (0, 2, and 4 mo). MPOD was determined (0 and 4 mo) at 0.4, 1.5, 3, and 5° temporal retinal eccentricities. Serum was analyzed for lipoproteins (4 mo).
Results: There was no interaction between lutein and DHA supplementations for serum lutein and MPOD. The lutein supplementation x DHA supplementation x month interaction was significant for serum DHA response (P < 0.05). In the lutein group, serum lutein increased from baseline at 2 and 4 mo (P < 0.001), and MPOD increased at 3.0° (P < 0.01). In the DHA group, serum DHA increased at 2 and 4 mo (P < 0.0001), and MPOD increased at 0.4° (P < 0.05). In the lutein + DHA group, serum lutein and DHA increased at 2 and 4 mo (P < 0.01), and MPOD increased at 0.4, 1.5, and 3° (P = 0.06, 0.08, and 0.09, respectively).
Differences from placebo in lipoprotein subfractions were greatest for the lutein + DHA group (4 mo).
Conclusions: Lutein supplementation increased MPOD eccentrically. DHA resulted in central increases. These results may be due to changes in lipoproteins. Lutein and DHA may aid in prevention of age-related macular degeneration.
Source: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May 2008. 87(5), 1521-1529. PMID: 18469279, by Johnson JJ, Chung H, Caldarella SM, Snodderly DM. Jean Mayer US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts; Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea; Schepens Eye Research Institute, Boston; Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia, USA. [E-mail: