Billy Hammond, a professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences’ Behavioral and Brain Sciences Program in the psychology department, was recently quoted in a Washington Post story on what people need to know about lutein supplements.
Xanthophylls are antioxidants in the carotenoid family, and lutein and zeaxanthin are the main xanthophylls found in food. People can’t synthesize xanthophylls, or any carotenoids for that matter, and get them by eating plants that make them or animals—such as chicken and fish—that also eat these plants. Despite their availability in nature, lutein and zeaxanthin supplements are widely available.
Other carotenoids are found in kidneys, livers, skin, the immune system, fat cells and so on, but lutein and zeaxanthin are the main carotenoids in macula (the vision center of the eye) and brain.
“Lutein is a major workhorse molecule,” Hammond said. “We have found that most people are in a deficiency state and would get a big benefit from just getting to normal.”
His research shows that even young, healthy athletes can improve their eye and brain performance when they boost their levels of L/Z, and he estimates that this benefit increases as people age.