The Age-Fighting, Eye Protecting Vitamin

Do you use your screen, yes even as you read this, watch tv, work off of a computer, scroll on your phone? You might have already heard of blue-light. While there are measures out there to protect from the blue light coming out of your screen, and even skin care that targets your skin’s side-effects from blue light, the best way to protect yourself is through building immunity and stronger system internally. Enter Lutein!

What Is Lutein?

Lutein is a fat-soluble [dissolves and stored in fat] vitamin, a carotenoid [the pigment that is responsible for the hues colourful fruits and vegetables].

Lutein is directly linked to eye health and often called the eye vitamin.

We chat with Julie Devinsky, MS, RD Clinical Dietitian at The Mount Sinai Hospital to learn more!

“Lutein is a carotenoid made by plants and microorganisms” Julie highlights. Carotenoids can be either one of: “pro-vitamin A carotenoids (i.e. beta carotene), which can be converted by the body to retinol (vitamin A); and nonprovtiamin A carotenoids such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene, which have no vitamin A activity”.

Photo: Masha Rostovskaya

Photo: Masha Rostovskaya

“Lutein does have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.”

Lutein Benefits


“Lutein, like other antioxidants work to scavenge and neutralize reactive oxygen species (ROS)” aka free radicals [responsible for cancer, and other negative effects on the body].

“There is some evidence that lutein may stimulate the immune system, prevent DNA from mutating, or stunt the growth of pre-cancer cells. To note, these antioxidant properties of lutein may be due to concomitant intake of other nutrients,” says Julie.

ROS, or free radicals

“Associated with advanced aging, cancer, DNA and protein damage, infertility and others” describes Julie.

eye / ocular health

Macular degeneration causes blurred or reduced vision, due to loss of fat cells under the retina, and can be age-related or due to damage from blue light or other outside forces that may harm the retina.

Julie highlights that lutein “can protect against macular degeneration by reducing the amount of blue light that enter the photoreceptors.”

Other low evidence-based proposed benefits

Heart disease, diabetes, mental function + respiratory issues, but more evidence and studies are needed.

Julie adds “increased lutein levels have been proposed to protect against heart disease, but more studies are needed. The mechanism of action would be to inhibit inflammatory responses to low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and reducing inflammatory cytokines.”

Photo: Ronit Shaked

Photo: Ronit Shaked

Lutein Consumption

Lutein, a carotenoid, as mentioned, is responsible for the vibrant hues in many fruits and vegetables, but not any one particular color. Fruits and vegetables deep in color are probably your best bet.

However, in specific Julie mentions: “lutein is found in abundance in a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables.”

  • Kale

  • Spinach

  • Parsley

  • Cruciferous Vegetables

    • Brussels Cabbage

    • Cabbage

    • Broccoli

    • Cauliflower

    • Green Beans

  • Yellow/Orange Fruits + Vegetables

    • Pumpkin Carrots

    • Mangoes

    • Papayas

    • Peaches

    • Oranges


Since “lutein is fat-soluble… it[is] best absorbed with meals that … contain fat [i.e. sautéed spinach with olive oil]” highlights Julie. Spinach being the food containing lutein, the oil [olive, avocado, whichever healthy fat] being the fat that helps it actually absorb and dissolve into your system.

Lutein As A Supplement

Julie points out that “there are supplementation forms of lutein, but as always it is best to get micronutrients from the diet as much as possible. The benefits of lutein may be enhanced by other antioxidants found in foods (i.e. vitamin C and beta-carotene), which is why supplements may not be as effective.” Aka combining those will enhance its absorption and effects, just like many fruits and veggies are bioavailable and beneficial only based on what they are combined with.

Food Combining Ideas


  • Any of the vegetables above with a fat such as:

    • Avocado

    • Nuts - Especially Walnuts

    • Seeds - Chia, Sunflower

    • Fatty Fishes - e.g. Salmon, Mackerel, Herring, Lake trout, Sardines, Albacore

    • Oil - Avocado, Olive, Nut Oils

    • Cheese - e.g. Parmesan Cheese

These can be combined in a roast, sauté, salad, bowl.

  • Any of the fruits mentioned above with fats such as:

    • Nuts - Especially Walnuts

    • Seeds - Chia, Sunflower

    • Full Fat Yogurt [Greek, Icelandic, Labneh]

    • Dark Chocolate

Next time you put together some fruit [from the list above] for a snack or dessert, consider adding some of the above mentioned fats to the bowl [a little sprinkle].

Cover Photo: Gina Lombardo Media

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