Eyeing Brain Health

Enhancing macular pigments may improve cognitive skills in aging.

A number of previous studies report that lutein and zeanthin are two carotenoid compounds that associate with eye health – particularly, the macula (the region that enables central vision).  JM Nolan, from the Waterford Institute of Technology (Ireland), and colleaguesenrolled 31 men and women with Alzheimer’s Disease, along with 31 age-matched control subjects, in a study in which participants received either a supplement containing lutein-zeaxanthin-meso zeaxanthin, or placebo, for 6 months.  The team assessed visual function as well as conducted standardized evaluations for cognitive skills. The researchers observed that those subjects who took the lutein-zeaxanthin-meso zeaxanthin supplement had higher blood levels of these carotenoids, as well as displayed significantly better performance on the cognitive test, as compared to those in the placebo group.   The study authors submit that: “Supplementation with [lutein-zeaxanthin-meso zeaxanthin]  benefits patients with [Alzheimer’s Disease], in terms of clinically meaningful improvements in visual function and in terms of [macular pigment] augmentation.”


Nolan JM, Loskutova E, Howard A, Mulcahy R, Moran R, Stack J, Bolger M, Coen RF, Dennison J, Akuffo KO, Owens N, Power R, Thurnham D, Beatty S.  “The impact of supplemental macular carotenoids in Alzheimer's disease: a randomized clinical trial.”  J Alzheimers Dis. 2015;44(4):1157-69.