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Increased Macular Carotenoids = Improved Cognitive Function

Many studies cite zeaxanthin and lutein as immensely beneficial for eye health. They’ve been proven to increase macular pigment optical density (MPOD) and improve visual functions like visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, and glare recovery. But few realize how important these two carotenoids are in other aspects of the body, too.

In an earlier post, we talked about how improved MPOD can lead to better sleep, connecting the macular carotenoids to circadian rhythm. But zeaxanthin and brain functionlutein can also be found in the skin, blood serum, and brain. Because such high levels of these carotenoids are found in the brain, specifically in infants, Anne Walk, PhD, believes that “they are important in some way for brain development.” In fact, past research links an increased intake of these dietary antioxidants with better cognitive ability. In more recent studies, Dr. Walk and Naiman Khan, PhD, RD, decided to test this connection in a younger patient base: children.

New Studies

Drs. Walk and Naiman developed 2 studies to test the connection between cognitive function and dietary carotenoids. “Lutein is known to accumulate in the retina and several other regions of the brain and has been shown to protect against eye disease and preserve cognitive function in older adults,” said Dr. Khan. In one study, they monitored participants’ intake of carotenoid-rich foods and academic performance over 3 days. In the other, the researchers looked at the relationship between cognitive performance and MPOD because of the correlation between zeaxanthin and lutein found in the eyes and brain.


Walk and Naiman found that subjects with higher levels of zeaxanthin and lutein performed academic and cognitive tasks more efficiently. Specifically speaking to the second study (MPOD and brain function), the authors commented:

“The major finding was that children with higher MPOD values have superior performance on academic measures, particularly in math and written language.”

These findings continue to demonstrate a positive relationship between high levels of zeaxanthin and lutein and cognitive abilities, regardless of differences in sex, aerobic fitness, body composition, and IQ.

Improving Eye Health and Cognitive Function

Elizabeth Johnson, PhD, of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Center on Aging, said that these studies “are consistent with what we know about lutein and zeaxanthin from intervention studies in adults.” That is, these antioxidants play an important role in both eye health and cognitive abilities. With the start of a new school year, your college-aged patients (ages 18+) could benefit from an increase in these important carotenoids.

Considering the average diet in college, supplementation is best for these patients to get the zeaxanthin and lutein needed to improve eye health and brain function. EyePromise has a range of nutraceuticals that cater to a variety of patient types, even college students.

Zeaxanthin and lutein

Find out how the other ingredients in EyePromise nutraceuticals can impact your patients’ eye health.




Swift Yasgur, Batya. “Leafy Greens Good for the Eyes Also Boost Kids’ Brain Function.”Medscape, WebMD LLC., 30 June 2017,

One thought on “Increased Macular Carotenoids = Improved Cognitive Function

  1. Great Blog Thank you

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