Lutein and zeaxanthin are two of the most important nutrients you can take for your vision.
In fact, your eyes won’t function without them.
These antioxidants work together to lower your risk of cataracts and protect your eyesight from age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
But, these two super-nutrients also play an important role in improving cognitive function and reducing your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
A 2018 study looked at the effects of effects of lutein and zeaxanthin on cerebral blood flow.1 The researchers gave seniors a supplement containing 10 mg of lutein and 2 mg zeaxanthin for 12 months.
A second group took a placebo.
Prior to and after a year of this treatment, study participants performed memory tests and learning tasks inside a functional MRI that showed Blood flow to different brain regions.
Patients who supplemented with the lutein-zeaxanthin combination maintained or improved their cognitive function over the course of the year. They also had increased blood flow to the parts of the brain that are essential for memory and cognition.
On the other hand, MRIs showed that subjects who were given a placebo had no increase in blood flow – and showed continued cognitive decline.
This backs up an earlier study by researchers at Queen’s University Belfast in Ireland. After analyzing data from over 4,000 adults, ages 50 or older, they found that a combination of lutein and zeaxanthin were associated with betteR cognition, memory, and executive function scores.
Zeaxanthin alone increased processing speed – the rate in which your brain takes in information and uses it to learn.2
And a brand-new study published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience looked at 80 obese and overweight middle-aged patients.3
Researchers found that those who supplemented with lutein and zeaxanthin plus choline performed faster – and better – on cognitive tests in just one week.
Like all antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin protect your body against unstable molecules called free radicAls. Too many free radicals lead to cell damage, contribute to aging and speed up the progression of diseases like heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.
Of course, these carotenoids are just two of the many nutrients your brain needs to make the neural connections it uses for sending and receiving messages.
Fuel Your Brain To Protect Memories
Supporting research reveals what I’ve been telling my patients for decades… Alzheimer’s has its roots in nutrient deficiencies. And there is a direct correlation between less nutrients in our foods and the dramatic increase in Alzheimer’s.
In addition to taking 10 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin daily, I recommend these brain-enhancing supplements:
1. Increase Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC)
Numerous studies show ALC can prevent brain aging and slow the progress of existing brain diseases.4 ALC promotes brain health by restoring the function of nerve growth factor (NGF). NGF is a protein produced in your brain. It controls the growth and maintenance of neurons.
As you get older NGF decreases. This leads to a major drop in the way brain cells perform as well as degenerative brain diseases. I suggest taking at least 500 mg of ALC every day on an empty stomach. Also, liquid acetyl-L-carnitine is more absorbable than powders and capsules.
2. Feed Your Brain This Fat
DHA makes up 90% of the omega-3 in your brain as well as 25% of your brain’s overall content. So, it makes sense to get more of it in your diet.
A University of California study gave mice DHA, a type of omega-3. The mice had lower levels of two proteins linked with the beta-amyloid plaques which are rampant in the brains of persons with Alzheimer’s. The DHA blocked the production of presenilin, an enzyme needed to produce those proteins.5
The best sources of omega-3s (especially DHA) are animal products like fish, eggs, and meats. But, it’s not easy to get what you Need from food. I suggest supplementing with 4 to 6 grams of DHA-rich krill oil daily.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
Did You Find The Red Letters?: BRAIN
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1. Lindbergh CA, et al. “Lutein and zeaxanthin influence brain function in older adults: a randomized controlled trial.” J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2018;24(1):77-90.
2. Feeney J, et al. “Plasma lutein and zeaxanthin are associated with better cognitive function across multiple domains in a large population-based sample of older adults: findings from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging.” J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2017 Oct 1;72(10):1431-1436.
3. Edwards C, et al. “Dietary lutein plus zeaxanthin and choline intake is interactively associated with cognitive flexibility in middle-adulthood in adults with overweight and obesity.” Nutr Neurosci. 2021 Jan 15;1-16.
4. Arrigo A, et al. “Effects of acetyl-L-carnitine on reaction times in patients with cerebrovascular insufficiency.” Int J Clin Pharmacol Res. 1990;10(1-2): 133-7.
5. “Omega-3 fatty acid may help prevent Alzheimer’s brain lesions.” UCI News. April 17, 2007