[The macular pigment: short- and intermediate-term changes of macular pigment optical density following supplementation with lutein and zeaxanthin and co-antioxidants. The LUNA Study].Ophthalmologe 2009; 106(1):29-36O
How long do the elevated concentrations of macular pigment persist after stopping supplementation with lutein and zeaxanthin?
One hundred eight (108) probands with and without age-related macular degeneration (68 female, 40 male, age 51-87 years) received a supplement containing 12 mg lutein and 1 mg zeaxanthin once per day (Ocuvite lutein) for 6 months. Analysis of macular pigment optical density (MPOD) was performed during the period of supplementation and again 3, 6, and 9 months following discontinuation of the supplement. A control group of 28 subjects received no dietary supplement.
At baseline, the mean MPOD at 0.5 degrees was 0.50 in the supplemented group. Following supplementation, values rose, and 3 months after discontinuation of supplementation the highest levels of MPOD0.5 degrees (0.59 ODU) were detected (increase of +0.1 ODU, (p<0.001). Six months after supplement discontinuation, a slight decrease of mean MPOD0.5 degrees appeared (to 0.54 ODU), followed again by a slight increase 3 months later (to 0.57 ODU). An increment of MPOD0.5 degrees in the control group was not significant (0.03 ODU, p=0.15).
Supplementation of lutein and zeaxanthin leads to an increase of MPOD0.5 degrees . This effect outlasts the duration of intake, and 9 months after supplementation was stopped, the mean MPOD0.5 degrees was still elevated compared with baseline levels. A longer follow-up subsequent to stopping supplementation might clarify whether the values decrease over time or whether a plateau of elevated MPOD levels is reached. High doses of lutein and zeaxanthin seem to be necessary to increase macular pigment density in the retina; afterwards, the amount of carotenoids needed to maintain high concentrations seems to be covered by daily food.