Lutein & zeaxanthin isomers may reduce stress: RCT data

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock

Related tags Cortisol

Dietary supplementation with the macular carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin isomers may reduce psychological stress and improve measures of emotional health, say new results from the LAMA II study. 

Data from the LAMA II (Lutein, Vision and Mental Acuity II) study indicated that six months of supplementation with lutein/zeaxanthin isomers (Lutemax 2020, OmniActive Health Technologies) also led to significant improvements in serum cortisol levels, and measures of emotional and physical health, compared to placebo.

The improvements were maintained after 12 months of supplementation, and were observed for both of the dosages used in the study – 10/2 mg, or 20/4 mg of lutein/zeaxanthin isomers – reported researchers from the University of Georgia in Nutritional Neuroscience.

The study’s findings were welcomed by Abhijit Bhattacharya, OmniActive’s president. “This compelling research demonstrates the expanded benefits of supplementing with lutein and zeaxanthin isomers to help address the huge public health concern surrounding elevated stress and cortisol levels,”​ said Bhattacharya. “The results of LAMA II serve as a strong foundation on which new macular carotenoids science can be built.”

The study was funded by OmniActive Health Technologies.

Study details

The Georgia-based scientist recruited 59 healthy, young adults aged between 18 and 25 to participate in the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Participants were randomly assigned to receive low or high doses of Lutemax 2020 or placebo for 12 months.

Results showed a correlation between macular pigment density (MPOD) – an indicator of xanthophyll levels in the eye – and Beck anxiety scores, and serum cortisol and psychological stress scores at the start of the study.

Supplementation with either dose of the macular carotenoids for 6 months produced significant improvements in measures of psychological stress, serum cortisol, and measures of emotional and physical health compared to placebo.

Mechanism(s) of action

brain and eye
Numerous studies with data from primates, children, middle-aged people, and the elderly now support the importance of lutein in brain health. Image © iStock

“Although similar improvements were determined for all outcome measures over the course of the study in both active supplement groups, measures of stress (serum cortisol and PSM-9) were the only measures that were related directly to increases in MPOD,”​ wrote the researchers. “The mechanism for the stress reduction effects appears, therefore, to be related to the accumulation of the [macular carotenoids] in the retina (and presumably the brain).

“Given the biochemical properties of the [macular carotenoids], a plausible mechanism for this finding may involve the direct antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action within specific neural tissues that ultimately leads to production of stress-related hormones. Additionally, it could be that the presumed reduction of systemic or local neural oxidative stress via lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso- zeaxanthin supplementation effectively produced lower physiological stress, which led to reduced psychological stress.”

The researchers concluded: “Our results simply suggest that supplementation with the [macular carotenoids] can reduce symptoms (however few) of anxiety and /or depression. In order to address other populations (e.g. clinically anxious or depressed individuals), additional studies would need to be conducted.

“In the future, we hope to investigate the effects characterized in the present study in subjects with different lifestyle and dietary habits, in different age groups, and different socioeconomic backgrounds.”

Source: Nutritional Neuroscience
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1080/1028415X.2017.1286445
“Supplementation with macular carotenoids reduces psychological stress, serum cortisol, and sub-optimal symptoms of physical and emotional health in young adults”
Authors: N. Tressa Stringham, P.V. Holmes, J.M. Stringham

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