Lutein: The eyes have it - or do they?

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

It is well known that free lutein has greater bioavailability than its esterified cousins. Here professor Edward Norkus, PhD, from the Montefiore Medical Center, New York City explains just why that is the case for the eye health nutrient.

“For a human they are not born equal. I can say conclusively that the free forms get into the body better, get into the bloodstream better, than the ester forms,” ​professor Norkus said.

“My research suggests why it is the case. In the esters it is a multi-step process to actually have absorption. And by ester I mean there are fatty acids that are linked to lutein… So you are talking about complex machinery in the GI tract to get that in the form that the body wants to see. But the free form – it’s there, it’s free and it’s available.”

Speaking at a recent Kemin and DSM-sponsored event in Munich, Germany, professor Norkus expanded on why carotenoid bioavailability in the blood is not necessarily the same as carotenoid bioavailability in the eye.

“We know that if you take a capsule or a pill containing lutein it will eventually get to the eye – probably with each pill. However to get significant increases in the level in the eye it takes a period of time but in order to get to the eye it has to go through the blood. So I am looking at it in the bloodstream.”

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1 comment


Posted by anonymoose,

Its always been said that Fat soluble vitamins should be taken with fat in a meal..

So if Lutein, like Vitamins A/D/E/K/etc, are fat soluble, and therefore require fat in order to be absorbed, then how would esterfication of Lutein with fatty acids BE LESS ABSORBABLE?

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