“Lutein is ready to be considered for intake recommendations,” asserted the authors of a new paper published online in the European Journal of Nutrition. Lutein, a carotenoid found in egg yolks, colorful fruits and vegetables and dietary supplements, has gained attention from the nutrition research community for its potential role in reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and other eye issues, and the paper’s authors noted that establishing a recommended dietary reference intake (DRI) value for the bioactive is “critically important” for advancing and improving public health.
“AMD is the leading cause of age-related blindness in industrialized countries,” said Jim Griffiths, PhD, vice president of scientific and international affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition International (CRN-I), and one of the paper’s six coauthors. “Establishing intake guidelines for lutein could encourage the consumption of lutein-containing foods and subsequently decrease the risk of age-related visual degradation and improve overall visual health. We hope policymakers and stakeholders take note of the strong research supporting the benefits of lutein and move forward with setting a DRI.”
In the paper, the authors cited a previously developed set of nine criteria used to determine whether a bioactive is ready to be considered for DRI-like recommendations, and illustrate the ways in which lutein satisfies each. These criteria include: 1) an accepted definition; 2) a reliable analysis method; 3) a food database with known amounts of the bioactive; 4) cohort studies; 5) clinical trials on metabolic processes; 6) clinical trials for dose-response and efficacy; 7) safety data; 8) systematic reviews and/or meta-analyses; and 9) a plausible biological rationale. Based on the careful review of the literature supporting the criteria, the authors concluded that lutein should join the roster of those nutrients that already have DRI recommendations.
“Establishing a DRI recommendation for lutein would provide the public with yet another reason to eat more of the colorful fruits and vegetables lacking in our diets,” wrote the co-authors. “Many consumers purchase products containing lutein […] but they may not be aware of the science that supports its role in health or know the appropriate intake level.”
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