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Intake of Lutein and Zeaxanthin Differ with Age, Sex, and Ethnicity

Journal of the American Dietetic Association
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.jada.2010.06.009


Abstract Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that are selectively taken up into the macula of the eye, where they may protect against development of age-related macular degeneration. Accurate assessment of their intakes is important in the understanding of their individual roles in eye health. Current dietary databases lack the appropriate information to ascertain valid dietary intakes of these individual nutrients. The purpose of this research is to determine intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin separately in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2004. The top major food sources for lutein and zeaxanthin intake in NHANES 2003-2004 were analyzed for lutein and zeaxanthin by high-performance liquid chromatography from June to August 2006. Results were applied to dietary data from 8,525 participants in NHANES 2003-2004. Lutein and zeaxanthin food contents were separated into lutein and zeaxanthin in the nutrient database. Mean intakes from two nonconsecutive 24-hour recalls were grouped into food groups based on nutrient composition; these were matched to the new database, and lutein and zeaxanthin intakes were calculated separately. Among all age groups, both sexes, and all ethnicities, intakes of lutein were greater than of zeaxanthin. Relative intake of zeaxanthin to lutein decreased with age, with zeaxanthin to lutein ratios lower in females. Zeaxanthin to lutein ratios in Mexican Americans was considerably greater than other ethnicities (other Hispanics, non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, other races). Lower zeaxanthin to lutein ratios were measured in groups at risk for age-related macular degeneration (eg, older participants, females). Our findings suggest that the relative intake of lutein and zeaxanthin may be important to age-related macular degeneration risk. Future studies are needed to assess the individual associations of lutein and zeaxanthin in eye health.

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