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Eat your Greens!

By: Carley Borrelli

Remember when you pushed your veggies around your plate to only have your mom make you eat them anyways? Well, those pesky green veggies may have done you some good! Dark green vegetables contain a carotenoid called lutein which is important for good eye health. Lutein is also found in egg yolks and is the main carotenoid in breast milk. It is crucial in developing healthy vision and maintaining it throughout one’s life. Lutein has also been found to supply antioxidants to the skin and reduce harmful effects from blue and ultraviolet light.

Age-related macular degeneration is an eye condition that is the leading cause of vision loss in individuals age fifty and up. This condition damages the macula, a small area near the center of the retina, which is necessary for sharp vision. According to a year-long study from the National Institute of Health, veterans showed improved visual function and glare recovery with a lutein supplement. Veterans took a 10 mg supplement of lutein twice daily with food to mimic levels found in spinach.

Photo Credit: Heather Steckenrider

Photo Credit: Heather Steckenrider

While lutein has been proven effective in older adults, it is also important in maintaining good eye health for all ages. According to a study published in the College Student Journal, undergraduate college students consume, on average, 2 mg of lutein per day and an average of 2.5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. The recommended daily intake of 6 mg of lutein per day and 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day were not met.These levels are extremely disconcerting to the health of college students.

As a third-year undergraduate student, I can attest to the difficulty of eating a well-balanced meal every day. It can be inconvenient to pack a lunch, and vegetables can be hard to eat on-the-go. However, it is crucial to eat right and make sure you are getting the essential nutrients in your food. There are also a variety of dietary supplements, like lutein, that can improve your health. Currently, Dr. Stringham is leading a study on lutein supplements.

Dr. Stringham is a Research Professor in the Behavioral and Brain Sciences Department of Psychology at the University of Georgia. He has previously worked with the Schepens Eye Research Institute at Harvard Medical School and the Air Force Research Laboratory. He has recently received a grant to study the effects of lutein supplements on college-aged students over a one-year period. Dr. Stringham is interested in using lutein supplements to improve visual function, glare recovery, and cognitive functions in college-aged students. He plans to start his study in the next couple of months.