Building Blocks Series – Lutein for babies


What is lutein? Is lutein Vitamin A?

Sources of lutein.

Lutein is a type of carotene [1] that is naturally present in breastmilk. In the diet, we get lutein from coloured fruits and vegetables (particularly dark green leafy vegetables) [1]. In general, carotenoids are antioxidants, and this property specifically helps lutein to protect the eyes from oxidative damage [2].

Dietary sources of lutein for babies

In babies, the central nervous system is busy collecting lutein either from breastmilk or infant formula and storing it to prevent oxidative damage to the developing retina [3].

What does lutein do?

Lutein also protects your baby’s eye by acting as a blue-light filter, which becomes important when we consider that blue light is harmful to infant eyes [4, 5]. The retina and macula of your baby’s eyes are responsible for the development of detailed vision, and lutein helps to protect and support this essential development.

Lutein and greens

A mother’s lutein levels in breastmilk are dependent on her own dietary intake [6], and so this means that, in turn, a child’s dietary intake of lutein will be influenced by the levels in their mother. So, children can only benefit in their development, then, by having mum lead by example and eat green vegetables, to supplement lutein levels for both mum and baby!


  1. Abdel-Aal el- et al. Nutrients. 2013 Apr 9;5(4):1169-85.
  2. Milani et al. Br J Pharmacol. 2017 Jun;174(11):1290-1324.
  3. Vishwanathan, et al. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2016 May 25
  4. Kijlstra et al. Prog Retin Eye Res. 2012 Jul;31(4):303-15.
  5. Alves-Rodrigues & Shao. The science behind lutein. Toxicol Lett. 2004 Apr 15;150(1):57-83.
  6. Kim, et al. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2016 May 25

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