Emerging Science on Lutein in the Brain

Publish Date: 1 April 2013
Author(s): Elizabeth J. Johnson, PhD


Lutein is the predominant carotenoid in pediatric and adult brain tissue. Lutein in neural tissue has biological effects including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and structural actions. In infants’ brains, the contribution of lutein to the total carotenoids is twice that found in adults, accounting for more than half the concentration of total carotenoids. In the adult, a variety of evidence supports a role for lutein in cognition. Therefore, Dr. Johnson argues, the greater proportion of lutein in the pediatric brain suggests a need for lutein during neural development. Infant formula is not routinely supplemented with lutein, whereas breast milk is a highly bioavailable source of lutein. Dr. Johnson suggests that further investigation of the impact of lutein intake on neural development is warranted. Given that the 1st year of life is a time of neural growth and development for which nutrition can have significant consequences, the addition of this dietary plant pigment to infant formulas could be an important strategy toward positive long-term health outcomes.
Download Article pdf-icon (0.27 MB)

Author Bios

Headshot placeholder

Elizabeth J. Johnson, Phd

Tufts University, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, USA
CPE Accredited Badge
Abbott Nutrition’s Provider Statement for Nursing CEs:

Abbott Nutrition Health Institute is an approved provider of continuing nursing education by the California Board of Registered Nursing Provider #CEP 11213.

Abbott Nutrition’s Provider Statement for Dietitian CPEUs:

Abbott Nutrition Health Institute is a Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Accredited Provider with the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). CDR Credentialed Practitioners will receive Continuing Professional Education Units (CPEUs) for completion of these activities/materials.

In addition to completing an online evaluation, participants of our programs can provide feedback directly to CDR.


attended a live program?




continuing medical education courses

Earn CME credits at no cost to you.