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Does lutein speed up fat loss?

Lutein, a compound found in leafy green vegetables, protects the eyes and increases energy expenditure in muscle cells and it may also stimulate fat breakdown. We, the ignorant compilers of this free webzine, have a sneaking suspicion that this is the case after reading a couple of Dutch studies. Studies that at first glance would not seem to have anything to do with fat loss.

Lutein is a carotenoid found in spinach and broccoli. You don't find lutein very often in sports supplements, but you do find it in supplements intended to protect the eyes. Lutein protects the cornea and the retina from the damaging effects of bright light, and can therefore help to delay the progress of eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration.

Scientists in Maastricht, in the Netherlands, are doing research on this aspect of lutein. They suspect that one of the reasons that lutein works is because it inhibits the concentration of the enzyme complement factor D aka adipsin.

The same complement factor D also plays a role in the growth of fat tissue. It is produced and secreted by fat cells, where it is involved in the uptake of glucose and the conversion of glucose into fat. Complement factor D also inhibits lipolysis: the process by which fat cells release their contents into the bloodstream.

Lab animals that are unable to synthesise complement factor D become unhealthier, but also gain weight more slowly when put on a fattening diet. [J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014;63(12_S).] So the synthesis of complement factor D would seem to be undesirable. But reducing the synthesis of it during cardio training or fasting periods, might aid fat loss. At least, you'd think so.

The researchers exposed fat cells to 50 mcg lutein per ml in test tubes, and put other fat cells in test tubes containing no lutein.

The genes for complement factor D worked less hard in the fat cells that were exposed to lutein than in the other fat cells.

Does lutein speed up fat loss?

In 2013 the same researchers published the results of a human study in PLoS One, in which they had got subjects with age-related macular degeneration to take 10 mg lutein every day for a year. [PLoS One. 2013; 8(8): e73387.] During that period the concentration of complement factor D in the blood of the subjects more than halved, as the figure below shows.

The solid line: the lutein users.

Does lutein speed up fat loss?

The Dutch concluded from their studies that "lutein supplementation may be a powerful tool in the prevention and treatment of age-related macular degeneration". And lutein may well be even more interesting than the Dutchies realise.

J Ophthalmol. 2015; 2015: 430741.

Lutein is a medicine against a sedentary lifestyle 12.01.2016
Lutein speeds up transformation from lazybones into athlete 27.06.2014

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