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Lutein and Zeaxanthin Isomers for Skin Health

By Prof. Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, RH(AHG)

Huntington College of Health Sciences

My article on lutein and zeaxanthin appeared in the May 2017 issue of Natural Practitioner. The article discussed the relationship between the damaging effects of blue light, and the protective qualities of the lutein and zeaxanthin isomers (rr- and rs-(meso)-zeaxanthin). The article presented evidence that supplementation with these carotenoids reduced headaches, eye fatigue, eye strain, and psychological stress related to blue light exposure, and were also capable of supporting overall health and sleep quality—again, as a function of their protective effects against blue light. One area, however, that I did not cover in my article is the effect of lutein and zeaxanthin isomers on skin health. That is the topic of this blog.

The Skin Study
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was conducted over a 12-week supplementation period to assess the effectiveness of lutein and zeaxanthin isomers (as Lutemax 2020 from OmniActive Health Technologies) in blocking the formation of melanin pathways, decreasing cytokines, and increasing antioxidants, vis-à-vis filtering blue light and protecting skin from environmental factors including high-energy sources. Forty-six healthy people (males and females, age: 18-45 years) with mild-to-moderate dry skin were completed the study. Skin type of the subjects was classified as Fitzpatrick skin type II-IV scale (i.e. fair to olive skin, excluding very fair, brown and dark brown). Subjects were administered with either an oral dietary supplement containing 10 mg lutein (L) and 2 mg zeaxanthin isomers (L/Zi) or a placebo daily for 12 weeks. The minimal erythemal (skin redness) dose and skin lightening were measured via the Chromameter. The individual typological angle (an index that determines the degree of skin color or skin pigmentation) was calculated. Subjective assessments were also recorded.

Results of the Study
Results showed that overall skin tone was significantly improved in the L/Zi group compared to placebo (P<0.0237), and luminance (indicative of skin lightening) values were significantly increased in the L/Zi group. Likewise daily supplementation with L/Zi decreased the intensity of erythema induced by UV-light exposure compared to placebo. L/Zi supplementation significantly increased the individual typological angle, and significantly increased in recovery of skin elasticity (P<0.05). In conclusion, L/Zi supplementation lightens and improves skin conditions.

Professor Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, the Provost for Huntington College of Health Sciences, is a nutritionist, herbalist, writer and educator. For more than 37 years he has educated and trained natural product retailers and health care professionals, has researched and formulated natural products for dozens of dietary supplement companies, and has written articles on nutrition, herbal medicine, nutraceuticals and integrative health issues for trade, consumer magazines and peer-reviewed publications. He can be reached at gbruno@hchs.edu.