Lutein and zeaxanthin in new dietary supplements—analysis and quantification


Lutein and zeaxanthin, two xanthophylls supposed to delay formation of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), are found in numerous new dietary supplements appearing on the international market. Usually, the lutein concentration ranges from 0.25 to 20 mg/serving size. The lutein contents of 14 products with lutein highlighted on the label were evaluated. Oily formulations were dissolved, and powdery capsule contents were extracted with solvents before high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis (diode-array detector, 450 nm) using a C30 column. If lutein diesters from marigold (Tagetes erecta) were present, the extracts were saponified with methanolic KOH. To unequivocally identify carotenoids, HPLC-(atmospheric pressure chemical ionization)mass spectrometry was applied. In this study only all-trans-lutein was quantified, whereas cis isomers (approximately 1–5 area% of total lutein) were not taken into account. The lutein concentration of half of the products investigated was found to be below the amount stated, varying here from 11 to 93%. With the exception of one product, all dietary supplements contained zeaxanthin in amounts typical for the use of marigold oleoresin (6.0±1.4 area% of all-trans-lutein). The high discrepancy found between the amounts labeled and determined in half of the products may be attributed to degradation reactions or to improper storage conditions.

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We thank M. Najduszynska and Z. Dogan for their preliminary experiments and R. Aman (Institute of Food Technology, University of Hohenheim) for valuable help with enzymatic hydrolysis of gelatine capsules.

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Correspondence to Dietmar E. Breithaupt.

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Breithaupt, D.E., Schlatterer, J. Lutein and zeaxanthin in new dietary supplements—analysis and quantification. Eur Food Res Technol 220, 648–652 (2005).

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  • Lutein
  • Marigold
  • Tagetes erecta
  • Dietary supplement
  • High-performance liquid chromatography