What is Lutein and what functions it fulfilled at Macular Degeneration?
Lutein is a carotenoid is present in most plants. In nature, it always comes together in front with zeaxanthin. The name of lutein is derived from the Latin "luteus" and means "orange-yellow." Lutein is next to the ÃŸ-carotene, the most common carotenoid.
Carotenoids are different chemical compounds, which can only be produced by plants. To date, approximately 600 different substances known to associate with this group. This is the ÃŸ-Carotene of the best known representatives of this group and met as a precursor to vitamin A is an important task in vision and expert opinion to follow in the prevention of macular degeneration.
Lutein and zeaxanthin occur in the plant before always together. You will not be converted in the body to vitamin A, but there are other tasks to fulfill. Lutein is probably the most important carotenoid in the plant, as it has been found in studies in almost all higher plants. Especially in the green leaf shares Lutein is concentrated very high, it also occurs in petals, fruits and pollen. .
Plants obtain energy through a process, called photosynthesis. They convert the green parts of the plant, the energy of light into chemical energy to build and then having processed carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water. Photosynthesis is a very important process because it serves other living things as energy source and carbon dioxide from the air, and oxygen consumption produced.
Lutein is in this context a very important substance. When light hits the parts of the plant, which absorb practically the lutein is probably responsible for including the light particles and their energy to the center of the so-called "light-harvesting complex" to pass. Important in macular degeneration and cataracts. (5
Lutein met but there are other important tasks in plant and animal cells. It has antioxidant and therefore has a protective function for survival, may also help to combat macular degeneration or cataracts. Free radicals, which occur frequently in nature and may be also the result of normal metabolic processes, are able to damage healthy cells so that they die at the end (see cells in a related macular degeneration). One of these free radicals is a specific form of oxygen, the so-called singlet oxygen that is formed on exposure to light from oxygen. This aggressive form of oxygen is able to alter metabolic processes in cells so that they mutate at the end - for example, to cancer cells - or die faster or aging, similar to macular degeneration.
At this point, one suspects, the protective effect of lutein to macular degeneration and possibly even with cataracts. It apparently prevents the formation of singlet oxygen, because it catches the light before and in the form of heat to its environment gives. (6
Because of its role in the metabolism of plants is mainly lutein in the green part of plants found in high concentration. But since it is the green plant pigment, chlorophyll, is superimposed, the leaves are not yellow. Only when the chlorophyll dies in the fall, the lutein still takes an aesthetic function. Lutein leads to the orange yellow color of autumn foliage. In animals, lutein is mainly in blood, found in the skin or feathers. It also fulfills important functions in the animal organism. Special mention should be here once the high amount of lutein in the yolk of eggs, where this percentage is in part at 70%. (7
In humans, lutein and zeaxanthin are concentrated in the macular pigment especially high. There they are likely the only carotenoids and probably fulfill the function of an "inner sun glasses, possibly Star against macular degeneration or gray. Lutein is used by the industry as a food colorant (E161b) in soups, sauces, drinks and much more. Indirectly, the use of lutein is via animal feed, to achieve this primarily as a chicken feed to the beautiful yellow color of egg yolk.
Miller N.J., Sampson J., Rice-Evans C.A. "Antioxidant activities of carotenes and xanthophylls." FEBS Lett. 384: 240-242 (1996)
Britton G. " Structure and properties of carotenoids in relation to function"
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The FASEB Journal 9: 1551 - 1558 (1995)