Meso-zeaxanthin (RS) Provides no additional health benefit

July 11,2017

New Study Finds No Added Benefit from (RS) Meso-Zeaxanthin

An abstract presented by John Nolan, PhD, at the 18th International Symposium on Carotenoids in Lucerne, Switzerland, showed that the addition of (RS) meso-zeaxanthin, a non-dietary carotenoid found in many eye health supplements, contributes no additional efficacy for eye health. 1  The initial findings from the Central Retinal Enrichment Supplementation Trials (CREST) add doubt to the need for supplement formulations containing (RS) meso-zeaxanthin.

The CREST study research was conducted at the Macular Pigment Research Group, which is part of the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland at the School of Health Science, Waterford Institute of Technology in Waterford, Ireland. Study participants were diagnosed with early AMD.

The new study examined the effect of adding (RS) meso-zeaxanthin to the standard National Eye Institute's Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) formula with low zinc.

CREST Study Details

Participants were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups:

  1. AREDS2 (low zinc) + 10 mg (RS) meso-zeaxanthin
  2. AREDS2 (low zinc) + no (RS) meso-zeaxanthin

After 24 months of follow-up, measures of visual function and macular pigment showed no statistically significant differences between the two treatments. 1

The findings are important because they support existing science:

  • No studies (human or animal) have been published evaluating the safety or efficacy of (RS) meso-zeaxanthin alone without the presence of lutein and dietary zeaxanthin. This is important because (RS) meso-zeaxanthin has no notable historical intake.
  • Some products are misrepresented as containing natural and dietary "zeaxanthin" but contain (RS) meso-zeaxanthin, a non-dietary, synthetic carotenoid and a stereoisomer of dietary zeaxanthin or 3R, 3'S - zeaxanthin. (RS) meso-zeaxanthin is one of three "zeaxanthin" stereoismoers. 
  • FloraGLO ® Lutein and ZeaONE ® Zeaxanthin (distributed by DSM as OPTISHARP Natural Zeaxanthin) contain lutein and zeaxanthin in the same dietary form as found in common foods, such as spinach, kale and broccoli.

How is (RS) meso-zeaxanthin present in dietary supplements made?

  • The (RS) meso-zeaxanthin contained in dietary supplements is synthetically made from lutein using high heat and a strong alkaline environment. 2

Does oral intake of (RS) meso-zeaxanthin hinder lutein and dietary zeaxanthin absorption?

  • Research indicates that supplemental (RS) meso-zeaxanthin may compete with lutein and dietary zeaxanthin for absorption, keeping those antioxidants from reaching the macula in the amounts needed for eye health. 3,4,5

What lutein brand provides the scientific certainty doctors trust?

  • FloraGLO Lutein is supported by over 80 published human clinical trials and is the number one recommended lutein brand by eye doctors. 6,7

Bottom line: The recent findings from the Central Retinal Enrichment Supplementation Trials (CREST) continue to support the National Eye Institute's AREDS2 formulation with 10 mg of FloraGLO Lutein and 2 mg zeaxanthin as the standard eye health supplement formulation for age-related eye conditions.


  1. Akuffo KO, et al. The impact of supplemental antioxidants on visual function in non-advanced age-related macular degeneration: a head-to-head randomized clinical trial. Presented at the18th International Symposium on Carotenoids. July 11, 2017. Lucerne, Switzerland (abstract.)
  2. Bone R, et al. (1993) Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 34: 2033-2040.
  3. Thurnham D and Howard A (2013). Food Chem Toxicol. 59: 455-463. 
  4. Thurnham DI, et. al. (2008) Br J Nutr. 100:1307-1314. 5.
  5. Meagher KA, et al. (2013) Br J Nutr. 110:289-300.
  6. Based on the results of the National Disease and Therapeutic Index syndicated report among physicians who recommend a dietary supplement with lutein for eye health – December 2014 – December 2015 (USA data).
  7. PubMed, 2016.

OPTISHARP® Natural is a registered trademark of DSM Nutritional Products Ltd.