Lutein and Zeaxanthin: You Need These For Your Memory – InVite Health Podcast, Episode 537

Lutein and Zeaxanthin: You Need These For Your Memory – InVite Health Podcast, Episode 537


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Lutein and Zeaxanthin: You Need These For Your Memory – InVite Health Podcast, Episode 537

Hosted by Amanda Williams, MPH

*Intro music*

InVite Health Podcast Intro: Welcome to the InVite Health Podcast, where our degreed healthcare professionals are excited to offer you the most important health and wellness information you need to make informed choices about your health. You can learn more about the products discussed in each of these episodes and all that InVite Health has to offer at First time customers can use promo code PODCAST at checkout for an additional 15% off your first purchase. Let’s get started!

*Intro music*

Jerry Hickey, Ph.: 

[00:00:40] Lutein and zeaxanthin. These are two words that become increasingly important to us as we grow older. They’re nutrients found in food. The problem is you absorb less from your food as you grow older, and that’s an issue for your memory, your brain, and your vision. Now, I’ve done a number of podcast episodes on lutein and zeaxanthin, but there’s more evidence now, very strong evidence, how important it is for your memory, especially as you grow older. So these are pigments in plants, and when you eat certain foods, I’ll go over these foods near the end of the podcast episode, you build them up in the eyeball and they form a screen, a shield called your macular tissue. And this in turn blocks blue lights from getting into the back of the eyes and the back of the eyes has these very vulnerable little organs you need for fine vision and blue light can cause inflammation in these organs. I’ll explain why in a minute because it’s so high energy and this can destroy your vision. It’s not uncommon in aging people. It’s called age-related macular degeneration, the number one cause of blindness in aging people. So the lutein and zeaxanthin help create this buffer that blocks the blue light from getting too deep into the eyeball.† [00:01:59]

[00:02:00] So blue light, why is it so dangerous? It’s super high energy. It’s made out of these very short waves of light, these very short rays, so many more of them are hitting your eyeball than from other colors across the spectrum. So they bombard the eyes and they create a glare. And this uses up lutein and zeaxanthin and they start to penetrate into the eyes. Now in young people, this just makes their brain and their eyes tired. That’s why I always recommend to people who have a kid in college working on their Ph.D. or somebody who’s doing a lot of reading and editing work, etc, work on the computer a great deal, take a lutein supplement, take a lutein and zeaxanthin supplement. It’s not going to hurt. It’s going to be helpful. But in older people, when you use up the lutein and zeaxanthin, it can actually affect their brain permanently. So normally the lutein and zeaxanthin help filter out blue light. They help with night vision. They help with glare recovery. You know, when you’re driving in a rain or the snow or at night, etc., and there’s a glare from oncoming headlights that blind you. You recover quicker with lutein and zeaxanthin. It’s needed for visual acuity. You know, how good can you see at a distance, etc. It’s needed for contrast sensitivity, picking something out from the background. So it’s a very important for the eyeballs, but it’s… Across your lifespan, like I’ve said before, it’s very important for your memory and your brain.† [00:03:27]

[00:03:28] So think about it. Anything that reaches the eyes has to travel through the brain to get there. So the things that are generally good for the eyes are generally good for the brain. So welcome to my episode, Lutein and Zeaxanthin: You Need These Nutrients for Your Memory. My name is Jerry Hickey. I’m a licensed pharmacist specializing in nutrition. You can find all of our InViteⓇ episodes for free wherever you listen to podcast episodes or go to You can also find us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at InViteⓇ Health. And please, when you listen, if you could leave a review and if you could subscribe, it would be helpful. So let me get on with this.† [00:04:13]

[00:04:14] Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids. There’s hundreds of carotenoids we know about. The body uses many scores of them. The one you’re probably most familiar with is beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is needed for the immune system. It’s needed for your skin. It’s needed for vision. It’s needed for other things, too. Beta-carotene converts into Vitamin A, which is interesting. It’s controlled by the liver. So it’s it’s converted into Vitamin A at sort of a set, a steady state. So there’s really no toxicity for beta-carotene. Vitamin A itself, if you have too much, can be toxic. But taking beta-carotene, not an issue. There is a drawback. People with thyroid disease and people with diabetes have a tough time converting beta-carotene into Vitamin A, so they should actually have a small amount of Vitamin A on a regular basis. So the lutein and zeaxanthin are pigments in in foods. They’re in the carotenoid family. And they do not convert to Vitamin A. They’re very safe. They’re extremely safe. If you take them as a supplement, take them with food because they’re fatty soluble, you’ll absorb them better.† [00:05:28]


[00:05:31] So the lutein and zeaxanthin are important to your vision and memory across your entire lifespan. They’re the most common pigments in your brain. Levels decline with age because it’s harder to absorb them from your meals. So there’s a very good new study, well-powered, using lutein and zeaxanthin and it’s going to help most older adults with memory. Adults with mild memory loss… See, most older adults do not develop Alzheimer’s disease, even though Alzheimer’s disease, it’s incredibly scary, most older people do not develop it. But those people will typically develop some level of memory loss, which is called subjective memory loss. Subjective memory loss might be just noticed by that one person. For instance, a gentleman might say to his wife, “Honey, I’m forgetting things.” And she’ll turn around, say, “Oh, no, you’re not, Harry. You’re fine.” That’s subjective memory loss. It’s not anything serious. It’s a common cause of absentmindedness and forgetfulness in older people. I do think part of that stems from people not having the demands of work on them. When you have to do work, you have to get it done in a certain time, in a certain way, and you have to use your brain for that specifically. And that puts a kind of demand on the brain that keeps you sharper. So I do think that a part of the age-related mild memory loss is very reversible just by doing things that really cause you to, you have to have this need to get things done. But more than likely, people who do not develop Alzheimer’s, the great percentage of older adults, they’re going to develop the subjective memory loss, this mild form of memory loss in people over the age of 60.† [00:07:33]

[00:07:35] So this brand new study, it’s a six-month study, it’s in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, which is a very interesting journal. It’s a good journal. Now, bear in mind, when you consume foods and lutein and zeaxanthin are reaching your eyeballs, they have to travel through your brain. And the body is very clever in how it uses things. It uses them in multiple ways. So anything that’s passing through the brain that’s important for the eyes is likely going to be really important for the brain. And that’s, that’s really what the research shows. So you’re absorbing less with age, so you really should think about a really good supplement of lutein and zeaxanthin. I mean, the ability of them to improve your vision and your memory as you age and also safeguard them from a decline… The research, the level of evidence gets a resounding yes, that it absolutely works. It’s putative, I believe it as a healthcare professional. So the study, like I said, is in Frontiers in Nutrition. It’s the Clinical Research Australia Group and Murdoch University, which is in Perth, Australia. They worked together for this study. And when you look at the data on lutein and zeaxanthin, they’re the number one and two pigments in the brain in like babies. They have a huge amount of this. And across our our life, the level declines in the, in the brain. But it’s very important for a bunch of parts of the brain involved with cognitive functions and knowing where you are, like your brain’s GPS and your hippocampus. Your hippocampus is where you’re learning through and you’re, you’re, you’re starting to store memories. So it’s an important thing. The hippocampus, when you learn something now, you store it in the hippocampus, but the hippocampus is vulnerable to damage. So when you go to sleep at night, when you go into deep sleep at night… When you go into deep sleep at night, you move the memories from your hippocampus to the long term memory parts of the brain. So the hippocampus, an important organ, obviously, for learning and memory, is, should be loaded with lutein. But like I said, the level drops with age.† [00:09:53]

[00:09:55] So in this study, it was a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind human clinical trial, which is a gold standard state of the art human clinical trial. 90 people between the age of 40 to 75. They gave them a placebo, which is an inactive pill needed for comparison’s sake, or they gave them 10mg of lutein with 2mg of zeaxanthin in a capsule and they gave them a a number of different tests like computer based cognitive tests. Now compared to placebo over the six month period, the lutein and zeaxanthin really help them with memory and learning and improved visual episodic memory. It improved visual learning. And these are people with subjective memory complaints. So these are people who are complaining that they’ve lost a little bit of memory. Now, there’s a lot of research proving this. There’s a lot of research backing this up, like previous studies showed that older people, given lutein, had better word recall or better delayed word recall also. So delayed word recall would be like, I’d give you five words and then we’d have a little mini lecture and then all of a sudden I’d say, “What are those five words?” Or ten words. Better overall brain function, all around better cognitive function.† [00:11:15]

[00:11:18] But also vision. And it doesn’t take a long time for the lutein and zeaxanthin to benefit your vision and your memory. The Moran… So this one was over six months of improved memory. The Moran Eye Center at University of Utah did a one-year study in elderly people, and lutein and zeaxanthin versus placebo really improved their visual performance. So it doesn’t take an awful long time to make a difference.† [00:11:41]

[00:11:43] So what do you do? Well, you can get lutein and zeaxanthin in certain foods like lutein would be found in dark green, leafy vegetables. Even though it’s kind of like an orange amber color, it’s hidden by the greenness, by the chlorophyll in the vegetables. So you’d find it in kale and spinach and broccoli and broccoli rabe and bok choy and vegetables like that. But you also find it in egg yolks and you also find it in corn. Now, the zeaxanthin is yellow. It’s bright level, bright yellow. So it’s named after corn. The Latin binomial name for corn is zeamaize. So the zeaxanthin is called zeaxanthin because it’s so yellow. You’d find that in orange and yellow foods, so you’d find it once again in egg yolks and corn, so that’s good because you’re getting both pigments in egg yolks and corn. You’d also find it in orange bell peppers, you’d find it in oranges and tangerines and fruits of that kind. I recommend taking a pill. I do every morning. Let me tell you my experience. I’m on my computer a lot. I’m on screens a lot. I used to be more because I was working full time. Now I’m only doing this part time. I’m an older guy. I want to enjoy my life. I want to have time left over for exercise and gardening and seeing the grandkids, etc. So when I go on the screens, my eyes get tired. If I take a lutein supplement when my eyes are tired with a little snack, so I absorb it better, within like 5 or 10 minutes, the eye fatigue is gone. It’s rather remarkable how quickly it gets to my eyes, but I take it on a daily basis. My wife does too. I insist on it for her.† [00:13:37]

[00:13:37] Now there are other supplements that are good for the memory. Acetyl-L-carnitine and alpha-lipoic acid, activated B-vitamins. There are certain nutrients and foods that the brain just grabs, like B-vitamins. B-vitamins create energy out of calories. The brain grabs the B-vitamins in your food. So in older people taking B-vitamins, especially activated B-vitamins, I’ve done some podcast episodes on those, is very important for the brain. Plus, it helps protect the brain. If you lack certain activated B-vitamins, like you can’t activate B12 or you can’t activate folic acid, a chemical builds up in a brain called homocysteine that really damages your memory. Really damages your memory. In fact, it’s a risk factor for Alzheimer’s. So activated B-vitamins for us older folks are really important. An example would be Methylcobalamin for B12 and Methyltetrahydrafolate for folic acid. Vitamin E and Vitamin C. They protect the brain. Fish oils, of course. I prefer krill because there’s other nutrients in krill that are great for the brain, like phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine. Probiotics are important for the brain. Turmeric, a well-absorbed turmeric, is great for the brain. It does many things for the brain. We’ve done some podcast episode on it. Resveratrol or real cocoa for circulation to the brain.† [00:14:58]


[00:15:00] In any event, I want to thank you for listening to today’s episode. You can find all of our InViteⓇ episodes wherever you listen to podcasts and they’re free. Or you could go to You can also find us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook at InViteⓇ Health. When you listen to our episodes, could you please subscribe and also leave us a review? I want to thank you for listening. Hope to see you next time on the next episode of the InViteⓇ Health Podcast. Jerry Hickey signing off.† [00:15:00]

*Exit music*

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