Eye health nutrient lutein may be even more important for brain function, a congress has heard.
Latest research is showing the carotenoid, and others like zeaxanthin, have an important role to play in conjunction with omega-3 fatty acids like DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) in congnition, and may even have something to say about the onset and development of type 2 diabetes.
"It shifts to the brain because the eye can be a marker for what is going on in the brain, and also in brain research on its own. So lutein as a nutrient that is directly linked to cognitive performance both in adults and in children"
"As a researcher I am always sceptical, but sometimes the results speak for themselves.. I think lutein could be more important than vitamin C".
Dietary or naturally-sourced lutein is best known- and best researched- for its role in reducingthe onset of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) - a problem estimated to afflict the lives of 600 million people globally by 2020.
Carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin increase macular content in the eye, especially the retina, which benefits eye sight and reduces conditions like AMD and 'blue-light fatigue'.
Dr Renzi-Hammond´s husband and fellow lutein researcher from the University of Georgia, Randall Hammond, PhD, noted macular pigment density had doubled in those screened in his research and attributed the rise to increased lutein in the food chain, mostly in food supplements.
Other areas being explored by lutein researchers include skin health and maternal and infant nutrition.