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Can lutein and zeaxanthin improve the cognitive function of young adults?

A lot of studies focus on nutrition’s effects on the cognition of older adults. But that’s not the only population looking for a brain boost.

Study under review: Effects of a Lutein and Zeaxanthin Intervention on Cognitive Function: A Randomized, Double-Masked, PlaceboControlled Trial of Younger Healthy Adults

Introduction

Aging is inevitable and associated[1] with numerous changes to brain structure and function, as well as cognitive ability. Much research has focused on neurodegeneration in older adults due to its association with aging and the fact that cognition is essential for functional independence as people age. While this is an important area of research, older adults are not the only population for whom cognitive function matters.

Many young adults look for ways to boost their brain power. They pursue everything from a simple cup of coffee[2] to pharmaceutical drugs[3] to accomplish this goal. Certain phytochemicals have also received their share of attention regarding effects on cognitive function, particularly lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein is the most prevalent carotenoid within the brain, where it is believed[4] to be neuroprotective through its role as an antioxidant. It also accumulates[5] in the retina, where concentrations are associated[6] with brain lutein concentrations. These dietary carotenoids are found in a variety of plant foods, as well as egg yolks. The lutein content in a variety of foods is shown in Figure 1.

Previous research[7] has looked at the effects of lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation on cognitive function in older adults. The effects of supplementation in younger adults is less investigated, with some evidence[8] suggesting that increasing macular pigment density through supplementation correlates with improved cognitive function. The study under review sought to follow-up on these findings and determine the cognitive effects of lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation in young adults.

Although young adults are not at the same risk for cognitive decline as older adults, enhanced cognitive function is something many pursue. There has been a growing interest in the phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin, and their effect on cognition. This study looked at how supplementing lutein and zeaxanthin can affect cognitive function in younger adults.

Who and what was studied?

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Other Articles in Issue #41 (March 2018)