Zeaxanthin is a xanthophyll and phytonutrient (health boosting, plant based chemical compounds). Green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale and spinach are amongst the top food sources. In this article I will be taking a deeper look at zeaxanthin and its role in humans.
Zeaxanthin can be found in plant based foods and also in a part of the eye called the macula lutea. It was first discovered in 1985 by Bone & Laundrum as part of the macula lutea.
2) HEALTH BENEFITS:
Zeaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant that can fight free radicals. Free radicals are dangerous substances that get released into your body’s cells during oxygen based reactions. They are believed to accelerate the ageing process, increase your risk of developing cancer (a health disorder where your body’s cells grow in a rapid, out of control way), increase your risk of developing diabetes (a health disorder where your blood glucose levels become extremely high) and weaken your immune system.
Additionally, there is a lot of promising evidence which suggests this xanthophyll may be able to boost the eyes by preventing macular degeneration and preventing cataracts (clouding on the lenses of the eyes). However, this evidence is still very provisional and additional studies are needed before these benefits can be confirmed.
3) RECOMMENDED DAILY ALLOWANCE (RDA):
Zeaxanthin is not believed to be essential in humans so no official recommended daily allowance (RDA) has been set. However, numerous experts have suggested that ingesting between 6 milligrams (mg) and 10mg of this nutrient each day is adequate.
4) FOOD SOURCES:
Zeaxanthin is mainly found in green leafy vegetables. Some of the top food sources include broccoli (1.4mg per 100 grams (g)), Brussels sprouts (0.9mg per 100g), green peas (0.8mg per 100g), kale (between 4.4mg and 8mg per 100g) and spinach (between 2.4mg and 5.1mg per 100g).
5) DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS:
There are no reported side effects linked with zeaxanthin deficiency. However, some experts believe that due to the presence of this xanthophyll in the eye a long term deficiency may lead to eye problems. However, no studies have been performed to investigate these claims.
Although there is still much to learn when it comes to the role of zeaxanthin in humans you should still fill up on greens. Green leafy vegetables are a fantastic source of many vitamins and minerals plus they also provide your body with plenty of this xanthophyll.