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Effects of a Lutein and Zeaxanthin Intervention on Cognitive Function: A Randomized, Double-Masked, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Younger Healthy Adults

Department of Psychology, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-3013, USA
Institute of Gerontology, Department of Health Promotion and Behavior, College of Public Health, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
Department of Psychology, State University of New York, Oswego Campus, Oswego, NY 13126, USA
Abbott Nutrition, Global Research and Development, Columbus, OH 43219, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2017, 9(11), 1246;
Received: 28 September 2017 / Revised: 17 October 2017 / Accepted: 8 November 2017 / Published: 14 November 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrition and the Function of the Central Nervous System)
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Background: Past studies have suggested that higher lutein (L) and zeaxanthin (Z) levels in serum and in the central nervous system (as quantified by measuring macular pigment optical density, MPOD) are related to improved cognitive function in older adults. Very few studies have addressed the issue of xanthophylls and cognitive function in younger adults, and no controlled trials have been conducted to date to determine whether or not supplementation with L + Z can change cognitive function in this population. Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine whether or not supplementation with L + Z could improve cognitive function in young (age 18–30), healthy adults. Design: A randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled trial design was used. Fifty-one young, healthy subjects were recruited as part of a larger study on xanthophylls and cognitive function. Subjects were randomized into active supplement (n = 37) and placebo groups (n = 14). MPOD was measured psychophysically using customized heterochromatic flicker photometry. Cognitive function was measured using the CNS Vital Signs testing platform. MPOD and cognitive function were measured every four months for a full year of supplementation. Results: Supplementation increased MPOD significantly over the course of the year, vs. placebo (p < 0.001). Daily supplementation with L + Z and increases in MPOD resulted in significant improvements in spatial memory (p < 0.04), reasoning ability (p < 0.05) and complex attention (p < 0.04), above and beyond improvements due to practice effects. Conclusions: Supplementation with L + Z improves CNS xanthophyll levels and cognitive function in young, healthy adults. Magnitudes of effects are similar to previous work reporting correlations between MPOD and cognition in other populations. View Full-Text
Keywords: xanthophylls; cognition; reasoning; visual memory; attention xanthophylls; cognition; reasoning; visual memory; attention

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Renzi-Hammond, L.M.; Bovier, E.R.; Fletcher, L.M.; Miller, L.S.; Mewborn, C.M.; Lindbergh, C.A.; Baxter, J.H.; Hammond, B.R. Effects of a Lutein and Zeaxanthin Intervention on Cognitive Function: A Randomized, Double-Masked, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Younger Healthy Adults. Nutrients 2017, 9, 1246.

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