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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DIETARY CAROTENOIDS, RETINOIDS, AND BIOACTIVATES ON HEALTHY AGING Title: Xanthophyll (lutein, zeaxanthin) content in fruits, vegetables, and corn and egg products

Authors
item Perry, Alisa -
item Rasmussen, Helen -
item Johnson, Elizabeth -

Submitted to: Journal of Food Composition and Analysis
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 20, 2008
Publication Date: July 20, 2009
Citation: Perry, A.F., Rasmussen, H.M., Johnson, E.J. 2009. Xanthophyll (lutein, zeaxanthin) content in fruits, vegetables, and corn and egg products. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. 22:9-15.

Interpretive Summary: Lutein and zeaxanthin are plant pigments that are selectively taken up into the eye, where they are thought to protect against the development of age-related macular degeneration. Current dietary databases make it difficult to determine their individual roles in eye health because their concentrations in foods are generally reported together. The objective of this work is to determine the individual contributions of lutein and zeaxanthin that are major food sources of dietary xanthophylls. Corn and corn products were found to be major contributors of dietary zeaxanthin, whereas green leafy vegetables were major contributors of dietary lutein. This information will improve on the current databases for lutein and zeaxanthin content of commonly consumed foods. This is essential for better estimates of individual intakes of these xanthophylls and determination of their contribution to health.

Technical Abstract: Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that are selectively taken up into the macula of the eye where they are thought to protect against the development of age-related macular degeneration. Current dietary databases make it difficult to ascertain their individual roles in eye health because their concentrations in foods are generally reported together. The objective of this work is to determine the individual contributions of lutein and zeaxanthin that are major food sources of dietary xanthophylls as determined by 2001-2002 intakes from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Corn and corn products were found to be major contributors of dietary zeaxanthin, whereas green leafy vegetables were major contributors of dietary lutein. The predominant isomeric xanthophyll form was trans for all foods. Processed foods contained more cis xanthophyll isomers than fruits and vegetables. These data will improve on the current databases for lutein and zeaxanthin content of commonly consumed foods. This is essential for better estimates of individual intakes of these xanthophylls and determination of their contribution to health.

Last Modified: 11/28/2014
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