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2014-10-27

Zeaxanthin (and Lutein) for Cognitive Enhancement

We should all know by now the value of lutein and zeaxanthin for improving eye health. Recently, new evidence has been suggesting that it's great for cognitive health as well. This newly published study shows lutein and zeaxanthin may boost visual processing speed even in young people at their peak in cognition.

This 4-month study included 64 young healthy subjects who were randomly divided into one of three groups:
  1. placebo
  2. 20 mg/day of zeaxanthin, or
  3. 8 mg/day of lutein, 26 mg/day of zeaxanthin, and 190 mg/day of omega-3s
Baseline data showed that people with higher macular pigment density, a biomarker of lutein and zeaxanthin levels in the brain, had higher thresholds of critical flicker fusion (CFF – linked to visual acuity), and visual motor performance.

Supplements of zeaxanthin and the mixed formulation increased CFF thresholds by about 12%, and and visual motor reaction time by about 10%, compared to placebo.

“The visual stimuli that were used in this experiment were specifically designed to test central measures of visual processing,” wrote the researchers. “Hence, the mechanisms underlying the behavioral responses likely also reflected functional properties of the brain as opposed to only optical or neural properties of the eye itself, such as improved function in disabling glare conditions or reduced scotopic noise."

“Indeed, CFF has been associated with cognitive performance, which suggests that relations with lutein and zeaxanthin may reflect a common mechanism related to neural processing speed.”

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Source: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study on the Effects of Lutein and Zeaxanthin on Neural Processing Speed and Efficiency 

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