While the macular carotenoids play a key role in a number of areas, including the eyes, skin, brain, liver, heart, and the immune system, the majority of the science has focused on their potential role in eye health, and for the reduction in the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss in the US, according to the National Eye Institute.
Speaking with NutraIngredients-USA this week, Lynda Doyle, Sr VP of Global Marketing for OmniActive, explained that the company has been sponsoring a series of studies in healthy populations: LAMA I and LAMA II (short for the Lutein, Vision and Mental Acuity studies I and II); and B.L.U.E. (the Blue Light User Exposure Carotenoid Protection Study).
Data from LAMA I, which has been published in Experimental Eye Research and New Frontiers in Ophthalmology, showed that the company’s Lutemax 2020 ingredient at increasing doses up to 27 mg per day of total macular carotenoid was safely administered, bioavailable and increased macular pigment optical density (MPOD).
LAMA I was a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 28 healthy subjects, aged between 18 and 25. The participants were randomly assigned to one of four groups: Placebo, or one of three Lutemax 2020 groups providing daily total macular carotenoid doses of 7.4 mg, 13.1 mg, or 27.0 mg for 12 weeks.
Preliminary data from LAMA II was presented at the prestigious Experimental Biology meeting earlier this year, with longer papers already submitted for publication in peer-review journals. This study was longer (12 month intervention) and included more participants (60 subjects) than LAMA I, and focused on two doses: 13.1 mg (10 grams of lutein) or 27.0 mg (20 grams of lutein) of daily total macular carotenoids.
The researchers, led by Dr James Stringham from the Nutritional Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Georgia, assessed the effects of lutein and zeaxanthin on a range of measures of visual and mental acuity, including Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
“[BDNF] is a neurotrophin that is particularly active in hippocampus, cortex, and basal forebrain – areas that are involved in learning, memory, and higher cognitive processes,” they explained in The FASEB Journal. “BDNF promotes synaptic plasticity, and is generally increased following healthy behaviors (e.g. physical exercise), and decreased during times of psychological stress.”
Six month data from the 18 to 25 year old participants indicated a “favorable response to [lutein] supplementation in the retina (and presumably the brain) leads to proportional increases in systemic levels of BDNF”, they wrote.
Additional data from this study will also indicates that Lutemax 2020 supplementation is associated with statistically significant improvements in contrast sensitivity, glare performance, and recover from photostress, compared to placebo (submitted for publication).
Digital eye strain and the effects of blue light
OmniActive has also expanded their research into visual function to studying the effects of lutein and zeaxanthin supplement on long term exposure to digital screens and other sources of blue light.
According to the Vision Council, adults spend on average 9.5 hours in front of a screen, while 91% of children use a digital device. Short-term exposure to this blue light through screens can increase the risk of visual fatigue, eye strain and headaches, while long term exposure may increase the risk of actual vision loss.
The B.L.U.E. study involved 49 healthy, non-smoking 18 to 25 year olds with high levels of exposure to blue light/ screen time, particularly those playing video games that engage the brain, like first-person shooters, for at least four hour per day.
“We found that MPOD increased versus placebo after both three and six months,” said Dr Vijaya Juturu, director of global clinical affairs for OmniActive. “Statistically significant increases in visual processing speed and contrast sensitivity were also observed for the Lutemax 2020 groups, versus placebo,” she said.
Data from questionnaires also supported potential beneficial effects for sleep quality after three months, and headaches, she said.
Experimental Eye Research
Volume 151, October 2016, Pages 1–8, doi:
“Serum and retinal responses to three different doses of macular carotenoids over 12 weeks of supplementation”
Authors: J.M. Stringham, N.T. Stringham
New Frontiers in Ophthalmology
2: doi: 10.15761/NFO.1000132
“Bioavailability of lutein/zeaxanthin isomers and macular pigment optical density response to macular carotenoid supplementation: A randomized double blind placebo controlled study”
Authors: V. Juturu, J.P. Bowman, N.T. Stringham, J.M. Stringham
The FASEB Journal
April 2016, Volume 30 Number 1, Supplement 689.3
“Lutein Supplementation Increases Serum Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) in Humans”
Authors: N.T. Stringham, P.V. Holmes, J.M. Stringham