Notes from Nutrition 2018 in Boston

Not just seeing: More research sheds light on carotenoids’ benefits for hearing

By Adi Menayang contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Carotenoid, Carotenoids, Lutein, Cognitive function, Cognitive health

The benefits of carotenoids for vision is widely accepted and understood, but researchers are proposing that the same mechanism also leads to benefits for hearing.

Dr. Billy Hammond, a professor at the Brain and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Georgia, presented his work on a carotenoid called lutein and its potential interactions with the human auditory system during a symposium on carotenoids at the Nutrition 2018​ conference in Boston last weekend.

Studies specifically looking at how carotenoids interact with audition is still in its infancy, but Dr. Hammond has done extensive work on lutein and the brain.

For example, his team reported in a 2014 study​ published in Neurobiology of Aging ​that macular pigment optical density (MPOD), which is representative of lutein and zeaxanthin status, was related to general cognition in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

“This work began by noting that lutein is throughout the central nervous system,”​ he told us.

“Early work looked at how much of it was in the retina, but then it was found throughout the brain, and also specifically in the auditory cortex.”

One of Dr. Hammond’s studies on carotenoids and audition was published last year​ in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience​, where his team found a link between lutein and zeaxanthin status and maintaining optimal auditory function.

“This is a new area for carotenoids, that’s why it’s exciting,”​ commented Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, a scientist specializing in carotenoids at Tufts University’s Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging who was also present at the symposium.

“[The study on carotenoids] started with vision way back when, then cognition, and now auditory.”

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