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Get to Know Zeaxanthin

Zeaxanthin

Another great source of antioxidants for your eyes and skin

It’s well-known throughout the health and beauty industry that antioxidants play an important role in how well your body functions. And if that’s going good, you’re going to look good. Numerous studies have proved a great source of antioxidant-like benefits come from consuming carotenoids (the pigments found in plants).

Zeaxanthin (pronounced zee-uh-zan’-thin) is a lesser-known carotenoid found in the same plants as many of its counterparts. Its name comes from Zea Mays, also known as corn maize, because it gives corn their yellow color. Of the other 600 known carotenoids, you probably know the more common ones: Vitamin A and Vitamin E. Zeaxanthin, though, regardless of how hard it is to pronounce its name, is gaining popularity as a great addition to your diet as a way to keep your vision clear and your skin youthful.

Keeping Your Vision Clear

The interesting thing about Zeaxanthin is we can easily measure the amount of it in our bloodstream and where it flows. Well, scientists can, not me. It’s knowing where it flows after you consume Zeaxanthin that’s important. By monitoring this, scientists discovered a surplus of it hanging out around the lens and retina of our eyes. Zeaxanthin is one of two primary carotenoids found here (Lutein being the other). While there, it helps protect your eyes by absorbing ultraviolet rays so the rays don’t damage your retina. Your retina is the part of the eye providing you with sharp sight, so protecting it from UV rays protects the clarity of your vision.

Once scientists discovered Zeaxanthin concentrated within the retina, they started performing studies to see if consuming more of it would prevent aggravating eye conditions. So far, observational studies have only suggested a diet high in Zeaxanthin lessens your chance of getting age-related macular degeneration (AMD) later. Studies continue to be done, however, to see if taking Zeaxanthin supplements could prevent AMD from even occurring. Either way, it’s safe to assume your eyes see better with it.

Staying Youthful

In addition to helping out our eyes, scientists have found high concentrations of Zeaxanthin in our skin. This is great for keeping those same UV rays from causing photoaging of your skin.

Photoaging is a single term for all the damage done to our skin due to continuous UV radiation exposure. This includes UV-A rays which make our skin thin and loose and UV-B rays which increase the risk of sunburn and skin inflammation. Overexposure to UV radiation can even cause skin cancer. Between photoaging from the sun and simply getting older, your skin needs all the nutrients it can get to keep it youthful and wrinkle-free. Zeaxanthin is one such source that can help you out.

In one of the studies that proves this, mice were given extra amounts of Zeaxanthin and Lutein to see how they compared to mice not supplemented with the carotenoids. After exposure to UV-B rays, the mice supplemented with them showed less signs of photoaging.

Getting Your Intake

Now that you know how beneficial Zeaxanthin is to your eyes and skin, let’s get it in your diet. Supplements are available, but like most nutrients, it’s best to consume them as they naturally occur – in vegetables.

Leafy green vegetables have the most Zeaxanthin. Spinach and kale, collard greens and mustard greens – use them as the base for your next salad! Roast up some squash, broccoli, corn, or peas for an even healthier dose of Zeaxanthin. There are so many ways to cook these vegetables, and all of them will help you stay young and sharp, so eat up!

S. Astner et al., “Dietary Lutein/Zeaxanthin Partially Reduces Photoaging and Photocarcinogenesis in Chronically UVB-Irradiated Sikh-1 Hairless Mice,” _Skin Pharmacology & Physiology_ 20, no. 6 (2007): 283-91.

10-02-15 | 0 comments | in Health, Skin Care

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