Breaking News on Supplements, Health & Nutrition - Europe US edition | APAC edition

News > Research

Read more breaking news



Meso-zeaxanthin is pharma and needs holistic research beyond eye health, says expert

By Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn+

Last updated on 26-May-2014 at 11:41 GMT2014-05-26T11:41:39Z

We don't know the long-term, whole body effect of meso-zeaxanthin yet, says Dr Richer
We don't know the long-term, whole body effect of meso-zeaxanthin yet, says Dr Richer

The meso-zeaxanthin cartenoid is a synthetic, quasi pharmaceutical that needs holistic research on whole body affects, says an eye health researcher.

Dr Stuart Richer, who presented a talk at Vitafoods Europe 2014 on the influence lutein had on sight and driving safety, said that more research was required on the long-term affect of the meso-zeaxanthin molecule on the rest of the body. He accepted the important role meso played in eye health, but said holistic research was needed to determine whether it could detract from the other carotenoids in the rest of the body.

"I consider [meso] to be a quasi-nutritional supplement - quasi, or synthetic, type nutrient supplement - because it's really a derivative of lutein that is only found in the retina. So it's almost as if it's a pharmaceutical. It's a synthetic, quasi pharmaceutical," he told NutraIngredients.

Richer said meso-zeaxanthin - found at the very center of the retina but only in the diet in very small traces - may hold potential as a pharmaceutical ingredient but in his mind it was not a dietary supplement.

Meso is one of three carotenoids along with lutein and zeaxanthin found in the macular pigment of the eye which filters damaging blue light. Unlike meso, lutein and zeaxanthin are commonly found in the diet and are often extracted as a supplement ingredient from marigolds. Meso however is only found in very small amounts of food - in some fish and in the yoke of chicken eggs through its addition to animal feed, with manufacturers making meso from lutein.

Classification: Pharma or nutritional supplement?

Richer said a "series of impressive publications" from the likes of the Waterford Institute in Ireland had shown, categorically, that meso builds pigment in the retina. However, he said such findings might instead point to a pharmaceutical role. When asked if he thought this might mean its use should be governed by different rules to that of dietary supplements, he said this could be necessary.

"This is a natural foods conference," he said. "And we're talking about items that are in the diet- that typically have a safer profile typically than synthetic molecules."

The bigger picture: Scientific uncertainties must be addressed
Meso researchers and manufacturers have said recent dialog around meso has been shrouded in commercial interests , but Richer said there also remained scientific uncertainties that should be addressed.

"Why the meso question is so critical is because, what it is doing in other tissues other than the eye? We know it builds pigment in the fovea but we've never found meso in any other place in the body, only in the retina. So by flooding the body with meso, we don't know what the effect is. That's not a commercial question, that's a scientific question," he said.

He said it was possible that long term supplementation of meso could create unhelpful competition with other carotenoids in other parts of the body.

"We don't know what happens over a long period of time should we supplement with high doses of meso in terms of repleting the brain with lutein which is what it requires."

In Richer's talk on the carotenoids' effects on driving dangers like night blindness and the ability to make safe turns quickly, he referenced his own and other's research on the nutrient's influence on cognitive health and even hearing. He suggested this approach should be taken with meso also.

"I think overall we need to think about these carotenoids as having an affect on multiple systems and multiple tissues in the body and not just on the eye," he said. 

Related products

Live Supplier Webinars

Polyphenols tipped to become the way to innovate in Sports Nutrition
Alpha & Omega in Sports Nutrition – Using Omega 3’s and A-GPC to improve performance and recovery.
KD Pharma
Orally bioavailable standardized botanical derivatives in sport nutrition: special focus on recovery in post-intense physical activities
Collagen in motion: move freely and keep your injuries in check
Leading manufacturer of gelatine and collagen peptides
Life’s too short for slow proteins. Whey proteins hydrolysates: Fast delivery for enhanced performance
Arla Foods Ingredients
What it Takes to Compete and Win in Today’s Sports Nutrition Market
Sports Nutrition Snapshot: Key regional drivers and delivery format innovations
William Reed Business Media
Gutsy performance: How can microbiome modulation help athletes and weekend warriors
William Reed Business Media
Pushing the boundaries: Where’s the line between ‘cutting edge nutrition’ and doping
William Reed Business Media

On demand Supplier Webinars

High-amylose maize starch may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes: what does this qualified health claim mean?
Balancing Innovation and Risk in Sports Nutrition Ingredients
Explaining bio-hacking: is there a marketing opportunity for food companies?
William Reed Business Media
Personalized Nutrition – how an industry can take part in shaping the future of Nutrition
BASF Nutrition & Health
Find out Nutritional and ingredient lifecycle solutions and strategies!
Is the time rIpe for I-nutrition?
William Reed Business Media
The Advantage of Outsourcing Fermentation-based Manufacturing Processes
Evonik Health Care
All supplier webinars