By: Robert M. Blair, Ph.D.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are well-known carotenoid antioxidants that have been extensively studied for their eye health benefits. A new study published earlier this year suggests that supplementing with these carotenoids may help reduce stress and anxiety .
To examine the potential benefits of lutein and zeaxanthin on psychological stress, researchers conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled study were healthy, young adults between 18 – 25 years of age were assigned to take either a placebo, a low dose of lutein/zeaxanthin (10 mg/2 mg), or a high dose of lutein/zeaxanthin (20 mg/4 mg) daily for 12 months.
Assessments of blood cholesterol, psychological stress, and mood, as well as symptoms of sub-optimal health, were made at the beginning of the study and after 6 and 12 months of supplementation.
After 6 months of lutein/zeaxanthin supplementation, serum cortisol levels were reduced, psychological stress scores were improved, and measures of emotional and physical health were improved compared to the group taking a placebo. These benefits were observed for both the low dose and high dose of the lutein/zeaxanthin blend. Additionally, supplementation for the full 12 months of the study either maintained or further improved these benefits.
While it is likely that the antioxidant properties of these carotenoids are at least partially responsible for these benefits, the researchers pointed out that it is currently unclear if the benefits derived from overall systemic effects of from effects localized in the brain.
This study adds to the positive research on lutein and zeaxanthin in other areas of health including eye health and heart health, making lutein and zeaxanthin an excellent choice if you’re looking to supplement a healthy lifestyle in order to maintain overall good health.
- Stringham NT, Holmes PV, Stringham JM. Supplementation with macular carotenoids reduces psychological stress, serum cortisol, and sub-optimal symptoms of physical and emotional health in young adults. Nutr Neurosci 2017; Feb 15:1-11. doi: 10.1080/1028415X.2017.1286445. [Epub ahead of print]