test-Lutein and Zeaxanthin Benefits to Help Protect Your Eyes and Skin
Vision Health
Lutein and Zeaxanthin Benefits to Help Protect Your Eyes and Skin
Amy Sunderman, MS, RD • May 21, 2020

Lutein and Zeaxanthin for Eye and Skin Health

Nutrition is an essential part of keeping us healthy long-term, and our eyes and skin are no exception. More than 6.5 million Americans over 65 have eye health concerns,18 and our population is aging—by 2030, an estimated 71.5 million people will be over age 65.1 That means there’s a greater chance of even more people having concerns with eye health in the future. In addition, the American Academy of Dermatology reported that 1 in 4 people experience skin health concerns each year.2

All of this adds up to an important truth—we should do everything we can to support our health and make sure we get enough of the nutrients that support specific areas of health, including antioxidant carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin for eye and skin support.

What are Lutein & Zeaxanthin?

Lutein and zeaxanthin are nutrients that are classified as carotenoid pigments. You may be familiar with other carotenoids, like vitamin A (beta-carotene) found in orange produce like carrots, or lycopene found in red produce like tomatoes, watermelon and red peppers. Carotenoids are the pigments that give our produce color, and over 600 carotenoids have been identified in nature.As a carotenoid and a member of the xanthophyll family, lutein and its related compounds are found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables, especially in green leafy vegetables.

Each carotenoid provides unique benefits, and some of them have an affinity for certain areas of the body.3 Lutein can be found in several parts of the body, including the eyes (where it accumulates in the retina),6 brain and skin. It helps protect these important organs from free radicals and oxidative stress. Carotenoid nutrients are a big part of why we should aim to eat a variety of colorful produce. Varying our intake of real foods gives us nutritional diversity, an important factor in maintaining health and wellbeing.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are also known as macular pigments as they are highly concentrated in the macula, and lutein is also deposited in the skin.3 These two carotenoids are very similar in structure and benefit. You’ll often find lutein and zeaxanthin together in the same foods, and they’re also available together in lutein and zeaxanthin tablets and softgels.

How Do Lutein and Zeaxanthin Work?

The vision benefits of lutein and zeaxanthin result primarily from their ability to help filter harmful blue light, and they provide antioxidant benefits as well. Why is filtering out blue light so important? Blue light rays are shorter and more energetic than any other type of light on the visible color spectrum, so blue light rays are more damaging to our retinas.4

Blue light is very close to ultraviolet (UV) light, which is not visible to the human eye. Like UV light, blue light comes naturally from the sun. In fact, sunlight is the biggest source of blue light. Artificial sources of blue light include fluorescent light, LED TVs, computer monitors, smartphones and tablet screens. More blue light is emitted from smartphones, tablets, computers, televisions and other electronics than from any other artificial light source, and since the average American adult spends about 10 hours per day on electronic devices, our exposure levels have increased exponentially compared to previous generations.5

Lutein supports skin health in a similar way and in part by providing antioxidant support for healthy skin cells to fight oxidative damage, which is a key contributor to many skin health concerns, including signs of skin aging.3,7

Additional Benefits of Lutein and Zeaxanthin

The antioxidant effects of lutein may extend to many other areas as well, including the health and appearance of skin.Lutein and zeaxanthin are free radical-scavenging nutrients, and since free radical damage is a major contributor to signs of skin aging and skin health, protecting against free radicals may help keep skin healthy and vibrant.10

A study linked increased lutein levels with a higher IQ, noting that about 60% of the total carotenoids in brain tissue is lutein.11 Thanks to its concentration in the brain, lutein is also known to provide powerful antioxidant support for that organ and may contribute to cognitive health.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin for Eye Health

Lutein and zeaxanthin are widely known as "eye vitamins" as the primary area of research for these ingredients has been around eye health. People who consume higher amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin on a regular basis have fewer eye health concerns, including age-related eye concerns.8

We are bombarded with blue light every day—from our digital device screens and the natural light coming through our windows to the light from energy efficient light bulbs. Taking lutein and zeaxanthin supplements is an extremely beneficial way to help keep our eyes healthy in the face of so much blue light exposure.

As previously mentioned, the visual benefits of lutein and zeaxanthin are believed to be tied to their ability to help filter blue light rays.12 When we consume them, they accumulate in the macula, which is the region of the retina responsible for vision.9,13 The macula is also the area of the eye that is most sensitive to blue light exposure.12

In addition to their benefits against blue light exposure, lutein and zeaxanthin have shown a lot of promise in helping protect our eyes against age-related health concerns, which is demonstrated by fewer occurrences of eye problems among those who consume higher amounts of foods that contain these macular carotenoids.8 Lutein has also been linked to night vision benefits, as one study linked lutein to better visual performance at night.13 Individuals taking lutein supplements for a period of 36 months have also reported benefits related to eye health, but we recommend starting your eye health support regimen as early as possible to stay ahead of potential eye problems before they start.8

Lutein and Zeaxanthin for Skin Health

When it comes to keeping our skin healthy, there’s a lot working against us, but we can help stack the odds in our favor with the right care and nutrition. Just as our eyes are bombarded with blue light, our skin is constantly exposed to the elements—polluted air, solar radiation and plenty of chemicals in our environments and household products may encourage free radicals and affect skin health.10 Psychological and physical stressors also play a role, including nutritional gaps or overeating, alcohol intake, plus our own natural metabolism generates free radicals that can affect the health and appearance of our skin.10

Lutein and zeaxanthin are a big step in the right direction when it comes to skin health. They are strong antioxidants, helping to fight off damage from oxidative and environmental stressors.10 Carotenoids are known to accumulate in the dermis and help play a role in skin protection. Though lutein is often found in much lower levels in the skin than some other carotenoids, they all play important roles and contribute to a larger nutritional effort to keep skin healthy.14

Lutein and Zeaxanthin Dosage: How Much Lutein and Zeaxanthin Do I Need?

According to the American Optometric Association, most Western diets are low in both lutein and zeaxanthin, and the association recommends supplementing with at least 10 mg per day of lutein and 2 mg per day of zeaxanthin to support eye health if your diet is low in these nutrients.15

Doses of 6.9 mg to 20 mg of lutein per day has been studied in scientific research, and doses of up to 15 mg per day have been used safely for up to 2 years.16 Due to variations in product formulations, always follow the directions on your product label to determine how much lutein and zeaxanthin to take.

Just for comparison, a cup of raw kale (one of the richest food sources of lutein and zeaxanthin) contains 22 mg of lutein and zeaxanthin, so the kale-enthusiasts among us are benefiting from added macular carotenoids.16 You can check your own daily intake by reviewing the list of lutein and zeaxanthin food sources below.

How Can I Get Lutein and Zeaxanthin?

The best way to get lutein and zeaxanthin in your diet is by eating real foods that contain them, which include many dark, leafy greens. Kale contains a higher amount of lutein and zeaxanthin, while romaine, whole eggs and corn contain smaller amounts.

Since eating a bunch of kale every single day isn’t in the stars for all of us, we can help meet our nutritional need for lutein and zeaxanthin with supplements, like Swanson Synergistic Eye Formula with Lutein and Zeaxanthin, which includes 20 mg of lutein sourced from marigold flower extract plus 2 mg of zeaxanthin from paprika fruit. It’s a simple and cost-effective way to make sure you get your daily dose of lutein. We also offer individual supplements of 40 mg lutein or 4 mg zeaxanthin if you are looking for a higher daily dose of either nutrient.

Food Sources of Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Which foods are high in lutein and zeaxanthin? Here’s a list of selected foods that contain lutein and zeaxanthin.17

  • Kale (22 mg per 1 cup raw, 44 mg per 1 cup cooked)
  • Spinach (6.7 mg per 1 cup raw, 15 mg per 1 cup cooked)
  • Turnip greens (9 mg per 1/2 cup cooked)
  • Collard greens (8.7 mg per 1/2 cup cooked)
  • Broccoli (3.3 mg per 1 cup cooked)
  • Corn (1.5 mg per 1/2 cup cooked)
  • Romaine lettuce (1.47 mg per 1 cup raw)
  • Green peas (1.1 mg per 1/2 cup)
  • Brussels sprouts (1 mg in 1/2 cup cooked)
  • Eggs (0.3 mg in 2 whole eggs)

Lutein and Zeaxanthin Supplements

Help protect yourself from blue light and free radical damage with supplements formulated specifically for eye and skin health. You can choose a supplement with only lutein, or opt for a supplement that contains both lutein and zeaxanthin for multifaceted protection.

Swanson Blue Light Protection Gummies

Make these delicious Blue Light Protection Gummies from Swanson part of your vision for better eye health! Featuring Lutemax 2020, each serving includes 20 mg of lutein and 4 mg of zeaxanthin delivering powerful carotenoid protection for macular and retinal health. These delightful gummies offer antioxidant support for defense against eye strain and fatigue associated with exposure to blue light from digital screens. Additionally, the active ingredients in each gummy have been clinically studied for their positive effects on cognitive function and even more restful sleeping patterns.

Swanson Vision Defense

This exciting new formula features Lutemax 2020 and an innovative new antioxidant blend including TrueBroc® broccoli extract, Mirtoselect® bilberry extract and AstaPure® astaxanthin to boost the effects of lutein. This breakthrough formula delivers a plethora of nutrients and antioxidants that support healthy retinas so your eyes can stay comfortable and focused today and each day moving forward.

Swanson Lutein 20 mg

Promotes healthy eyes and skin and helps fight eye fatigue and strain with 20 mg of lutein sourced from marigold flowers. This is a great option for flexible lutein dosage when you already get some lutein in your diet from natural sources but want to supplement your intake to fill in nutritional gaps. This formula is also available in 40 mg lutein softgels if you prefer a higher dose. Lutein is a fat-soluble carotenoid, so it's absorbed better when taken with fat. Swanson's softgels with sunflower seed oil provide a convenient and effective way to get the benefits of this important nutrient.

Swanson Zeaxanthin 4 mg

Fortify your free radical defenses for your eyes and other vital organs with zeaxanthin.* A member of the carotenoid family, zeaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant with specific benefits for eye tissues.* In fact, Zeaxanthin and lutein are the most prevalent carotenoids in the retina and macula of the eye. In addition to its specific role in eye health, zeaxanthin provides valuable protection for the whole body.*

You can see Swanson’s full range of supplements for vision health here.

Carotenoids for Vision and Skin Support

The importance of nutrition for healthy eyes and skin shouldn’t be underestimated. Nutrition for these areas are a long game. So, start taking care of your eye and skin health now so you can get ahead of potential age and lifestyle-related concerns and support your long-term health and wellbeing.

Learn more about how blue light and our nutritional choices affect eye health by reading Important Facts about Blue Light and Eye Health, and Build Xtraordinary Eyes: Nutrition for Eye Health.

Amy Sunderman, MS, RD, Director of Science & Innovation Registered Dietitan

About Amy Sunderman, MS, RD

Amy is a registered dietitian, nutritionist and author with more than 20 years of experience in the supplement industry. Amy is passionate about dietary supplements and the health benefits they offer. She enjoys working to find novel nutritional ingredients with strong clinical research behind them to drive innovation and provide health-promoting products to consumers.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


1. Promote Healthy Aging. National Library of Medicine. Read source

2. Burden of Skin Disease. American Academy of Dermatology. Read source

3. Promoting Eye and Skin Health. Wild-Type Food in Health Promotion. Read source

4. Dr. Vijaya Juturu on Blue Light and Lutein. Swanson Health Products Facebook. Watch video

5. More Than 10 Hours of Screen Time. Pennsylvania State University. Read source

6. Lutein as a Functioning Food Source. Journal of Functional Foods. Read source

7. The Role of Phytonutrients in Skin Health. Nutrients. Read source

8. Lutein. Medline Plus. Read source

9. The Photobiology of Lutein and Zeaxanthin in the Eye. The Journal of Ophthalmology. Read source

10. Free Radicals and Extrinsic Skin Aging. Dermatology Research and Practice. Read source

11. Study Links Lutein Levels to Higher IQ. Nutrients. Read source

12. Lutein and Zeaxanthin. National Library of Medicine. Read source

13. Lutein Supplementation. Nutrition. Read source

14. Carotenoids. National Library of Medicine. Read source

15. Lutein & Zeaxanthin. American Optometric Association. Read source

16. Lutein. WebMd. Read source

17. Lutein & Zeaxanthin Concentration in Fruits & Vegetables. American Macular Degeneration Foundation. Read source

18. Healthy Aging Includes Healthy Vision. CDC. Read source