Lutein and zeaxanthin are xanthophyll carotenoids found at high concentrations in the retina where they form the macular pigment. They act as antioxidants and blue light filters and they play a role in visual performance and protection against age-related macular degeneration. Whether supplementation during pregnancy is beneficial for maternal and infant health has not yet been thoroughly investigated.
The present study is a prospective randomized controlled clinical trial where 47 first-trimester pregnant women received daily either a supplement containing 10 mg lutein and 2 mg zeaxanthin or a control, in addition to standard-of-care prenatal multivitamin supplementation. Carotenoid concentrations were measured in the skin and in the blood of mothers (at the end of each trimester and postpartum) and infants.
Lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations increased in the carotenoid group, both in the blood and in the skin, at all-time points versus baseline, whereas it neither increased nor decreased in the control group. In the carotenoid group, there was a slight decrease in blood lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations postpartum versus end of the third trimester. Infants from mothers receiving lutein and zeaxanthin exhibited a 5-fold increase in serum lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations and a 38% increase in skin carotenoid status. There were highly positive correlations between postpartum maternal lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations or skin carotenoid status and infant lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations or skin carotenoid status.
This study shows that a daily prenatal carotenoid supplementation with 10 mg lutein and 2 mg zeaxanthin is safe and increases lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations and skin carotenoid status in both mothers and infants.
This publication constitutes the first report of the clinical trial and a subsequent publication report will focus on the effects of supplementation on the ocular carotenoid status in the mothers and infants and it will also evaluate its effects on visual system function and development.
Addo EK, Allman SJ, Arunkumar R, Gorka JE, Harrison DY, Varner MW, Bernstein PS. Systemic Effects of Prenatal Carotenoid Supplementation in the Mother and her Child: The Lutein and Zeaxanthin in Pregnancy (L-ZIP) Randomized Trial -Report Number 1. J Nutr. 2023 Aug;153(8):2205-2215. doi: 10.1016/j.tjnut.2023.05.024. Epub 2023 May 27. PMID: 37247819; PMCID: PMC10447612.