Lutein is a carotenoid with reported anti-inflammatory properties. A large body of evidence shows that lutein has several beneficial effects, especially on eye health. In particular, lutein is known to improve or even prevent age-related macular disease which is the leading cause of blindness and vision impairment. Furthermore, many studies have reported that lutein may also have positive effects in different clinical conditions, thus ameliorating cognitive function, decreasing the risk of cancer, and improving measures of cardiovascular health. At present, the available data have been obtained from both observational studies investigating lutein intake with food, and a few intervention trials assessing the efficacy of lutein supplementation. In general, sustained lutein consumption, either through diet or supplementation, may contribute to reducing the burden of several chronic diseases. However, there are also conflicting data concerning lutein efficacy in inducing favorable effects on human health and there are no univocal data concerning the most appropriate dosage for daily lutein supplementation. Therefore, based on the most recent findings, this review will focus on lutein properties, dietary sources, usual intake, efficacy in human health, and toxicity.
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