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What is zeaxanthin?

Zeaxanthin is one of nature's most common carotenoid vitamins, renowned for its antioxidant properties, but also for pigmenting a range of foods such as saffron, corn or red pepper. Most often, zeaxanthin is associated with lutein, because they are often found together in foods, but also because they have a number of beneficial effects on the body.


Role of zeaxanthin in the body

Zeaxanthin has several functions in the body, especially in the eye. A healthy intake of zeaxanthin can prevent eye conditions such as macular degeneration.

  • Filtering 'blue light
Blue light is part of the visible colour spectrum and is present in sunlight, but also in artificial light, especially from LED light bulbs. Also the screens of digital devices (phone, TV, laptop) emit blue light. What is worrying, however, is that the human eye is unable to protect itself from this light, which penetrates the cornea and reaches the retina.

Over time, this blue light attacks the cells of the retina, leading to macular degeneration, which is the main cause of vision loss. But the good news is that zeaxanthin, along with lutein, can protect the eyes from the negative effects of blue light. At the retinal level, zeaxanthin blocks the passage of blue light to the retina, thus reducing oxidative stress in the eye and reducing the risk of developing vision problems.

  • Blocking the action of free radicals
Zeaxanthin acts as a barrier to free radicals, reducing the level of oxidative stress in the eye. Oxidative stress promotes vision problems.
  • Prevent age-related macular degeneration
As we get older, the risk of macular degeneration increases, but an optimal intake of zeaxanthin (and lutein) can protect the eyes from this condition. This keeps vision good, despite the natural ageing process.
  • Increased plasma lutein concentration
It is important to note that zeaxanthin increases the plasma concentration of lutein, which is also very important for maintaining vision.


Properties of zeaxanthin

Zeaxanthin has a number of properties that make this vitamin a valuable ally in maintaining eye health over the years.

Zeaxanthin is a carotenoid vitamin found in the central macula of the eye, the area of the retina known as the fundus. It is this macula that is responsible for seeing things in detail. As we get older, the macula is at risk of macular degeneration, but an optimal intake of zeaxanthin (and lutein) will keep the macula healthy for as long as possible.

Zeaxanthin is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it dissolves in fat.
Lutein is found in the macula of the eye from birth in small amounts, but zeaxanthin is not. What's interesting is that as we consume more zeaxanthin, the amount of lutein in the eye increases. Together, these two vitamins manage to protect the eyes from the effects of free radicals, blue light from digital screens and air pollution. At the same time, these two vitamins reduce the risk of eye diseases.


Risk factors for zeaxanthin deficiency

Zeaxanthin deficiency can be promoted by a number of conditions - find out if you are at risk of zeaxanthin deficiency, depending on the risk factors you are exposed to.

Tobacco and alcohol consumption can contribute to zeaxanthin deficiency. Alcohol and tobacco increase oxidative stress in the body, thereby reducing zeaxanthin levels.
Pollution also plays its part in reducing zeaxanthin levels in the body. Moreover, increased pollution increases the body's need for zeaxanthin, which can provide protection for the eyes.
As we get older, the level of zeaxanthin in the body may decrease, as may the need for supplementation of this vitamin.


Benefits of zeaxanthin for the body

The benefits of zeaxanthin to the body are not just limited to maintaining eye health, it also contributes to maintaining healthy skin as well as the cardiovascular system.
  • Antioxidant effect
The antioxidant effect of zeaxanthin reduces oxidative stress that occurs due to free radicals. Thus, a number of diseases are prevented.
  • Protection against sun damage to eyes and skin
Zeaxanthin belongs to the category of carotenoid vitamins, which are known to protect both eyes and skin against UV radiation. The antioxidant properties of zeaxanthin make this vitamin a valuable ally of the eyes and skin against the dangers of sun exposure.
  • Beneficial effects in eye diseases
Cataracts and macular degeneration are two of the most feared eye diseases. Fortunately, a number of studies in the field have shown that zeaxanthin can reduce the risk of these conditions setting in, but can also slow their progression once they have already occurred.

The lens of the eye collects light and transmits it to the retina. To do this effectively, the lens must remain clear. But free radicals and oxidative stress damage the lens, causing damage to the retina. Fortunately, zeaxanthin and its antioxidant effect keep the lens clear and can prevent cataracts from developing. What's more, zeaxanthin also improves vision in macular degeneration and other eye conditions.
  • Lower risk of cardiovascular disease
Cardiovascular disease associated with atherosclerosis is one of the leading causes of death in developed countries. Studies have shown, however, that adopting a diet based on antioxidants such as zeaxanthin can reduce atherosclerosis-specific inflammation, thereby lowering a patient's cardiovascular risk.
  • The effectiveness of zeaxanthin against various cancers
A number of studies have looked at the link between zeaxanthin and reducing the risk of breast, prostate, colon or lung cancer. It has been scientifically proven that zeaxanthin can reduce the risk of cancer.
  • Combating age-related macular degeneration
Studies in recent years have confirmed that zeaxanthin (along with lutein) can reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration. A diet based on foods containing carotenoid vitamins, as well as dietary supplements based on zeaxanthin or lutein, is therefore recommended for the elderly.




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