A new paper published in the European Journal of Nutrition concludes the carotenoid vitamin lutein is ready to be considered for intake recommendations. Lutein has been researched for its potential role in reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and other eye issues.

Foods rich in lutein include dark, leafy green vegetables, colorful fruits, and egg yolks. According to the authors of the new paper, it is “critically important” to establish a recommended dietary reference intake (DRI) for the bioactive in order to improve public health.

The authors of the paper – which include Jim Griffiths, Ph.D., VP scientific and international affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) -- determined lutein should be added to the list of nutrients that have DRI recommendations because it satisfies the criteria used to determine whether a bioactive is ready to be examined.

The nine criteria include 1) an accepted definition; 2) a reliable analysis method; 3) a food database with known amounts of the bioactive; 4) cohort studies; 5) clinical trials on metabolic processes; 6) clinical trials for dose-response and efficacy; 7) safety data; 8) systematic reviews and/or meta-analyses; and 9) a plausible biological rationale.

The European Journal of Nutrition is not the first publication to delve into the health benefits of lutein. Dr. Johanna M. Seddon and associates at Harvard University discovered that 6 mg per day of lutein led to a 43% lower risk for AMD. The American Macular Degeneration Foundation recommends a dosage for lutein of 6 to 30 mg a day.

In his bookOvercoming Macular Degeneration, Dr. Yale Solomon explains that lutein is absorbed from food and transported to the macula and lens of the eye in large amounts. Solomon concluded lutein may lower the risk of AMD and cataracts, and might even stop advancement in people who are impaired with the eye diseases.

“AMD is the leading cause of age-related blindness in industrialized countries. Establishing intake guidelines for lutein could encourage the consumption of lutein-containing foods and subsequently decrease the risk of age-related visual degradation and improve overall visual health,” Griffiths said in a statement. “We hope policymakers and stakeholders take note of the strong research supporting the benefits of lutein and move forward with setting a DRI.”