Lutein and Zeaxanthin May Prevent Migraines
Lutein and zeaxanthin are known to block blue light.
Blue light is a destructive migraine trigger that comes from the sun and many artificial light sources, such as the screen you are reading from right now (full article).
Blue light may be responsible for the light sensitivity found in migraine sufferers.
Lutein and zeaxanthin can help.
Ten Things You Should Know about Lutein and Zeaxanthin
1. What are They?
Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that provide color in plants and prevent damage by absorbing excessive amounts of blue light.
The human eye also uses lutein and zeaxanthin to protect the macula from blue light and oxidative stress (study).
Blue light and oxidative stress are powerful migraine triggers (full article).
2. Migraine Sufferers, Lutein, and Zeaxanthin
A study published in 2012 found that migraineurs with chronic light sensitivity accumulated higher levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in the macula of the eye (study).
The author of the study speculated that the macula may accumulate these compounds in an effort to mitigate light sensitivity.
3. Why the Macula and Migraines are Important
Photosensitivity in migraine sufferers and other conditions may serve to prevent macular eye damage. After all, a migraine forces sufferers to retreat from damaging blue light and into the dark.
Macular pigments such as lutein and zeaxanthin absorb blue light before it can damage the photoreceptors.
Macular degeneration is the most common cause of blindness in people over the age of 50 in the developed world (study).
4. Glare Reduction
It is no secret that bright lights, computer screens, or eye strain in low-light can trigger migraines. Lutein and zeaxanthin reduce the discomfort associated with eye strain and improve sharpness of vision (study).
5. Night Vision
Lutein and zeaxanthin supplements are found to improve vision in people with retinal diseases where the macula is damaged (study). Some retinal disease patients have a problem seeing at night, even when their daytime vision is all right.
Lutein and zeaxanthin may improve overall vision and reduce the impact of visual disturbances at night that may trigger migraines.
6. Daily Intake of Lutein and Zeaxanthin
A typical diet contains 1-3 mg per day of lutein and zeaxanthin, while over 6 mg per day is related to decreased risk of macular degeneration.
7. Foods Highest in Lutein and Zeaxanthin
8. Lutein and Zeaxanthin Absorption Differs Among Produce
Lutein and zeaxanthin are most commonly found in green vegetables, such as kale, spinach, and broccoli. Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables also contain small amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin.
However, lutein and zeaxanthin absorption from fruit or vegetables such as sweet potatoes have almost 100 percent absorption. Only about 19 percent to 38 percent of the lutein and zeaxanthin in green vegetables make it into the blood (study).
Green vegetables are still the best way to obtain these antioxidants because they can contain over 100 times the amount of lutein and zeaxanthin as most fruits.
These antioxidants have different absorption rates based on the other nutrients present in the vegetable or fruit.
9. Processed Foods Destroy Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Carotenoids can be destroyed by heat and treatment. Processed food may claim it has lutein and zeaxanthin, but the antioxidants may not be bioavailable and therefore useless for migraine prevention (study). Eat real food.
10. Fat is Needed
In general, carotenoids are fat-soluble nutrients. You need healthy fats in order to absorb lutein and zeaxanthin (full article).