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27.06.2014


Lutein speeds up transformation from lazybones into athlete

Lutein speeds up transformation from lazybones into athlete
If you aren't a sporty type, but would like to be, you could consider lutein. The much neglected little brother of beta-carotene, lutein can help you to adopt an active lifestyle. According to a Japanese animal study, published in PLoS One, the substance activates the 'marathon enzyme' AMPK.

Lutein
Lutein is a carotenoid that is soluble in fat. Its chemical structure resembles that of beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. But unlike beta-carotene, lutein does not convert into vitamin A.


Lutein speeds up transformation from lazybones into athlete


The human eye, the retina in particular, contains large amounts of lutein. Together with zeaxanthin, which is found mainly in the macula, lutein protects the eye against aggressive components in sunlight. Good food sources of lutein are kale and spinach.


Lutein speeds up transformation from lazybones into athlete


Feed manufacturers sometimes add lutein to chicken feed so that the yolks develop a stronger colour. The body absorbs the lutein (and zeaxanthin) in egg yolks well. If you eat an egg a day the amount of these two carotenoids in your blood will rise, without there being negative effects on your cholesterol level, say researchers sponsored by egg producers. [J Nutr. 2006 Oct;136(10):2519-24.]

Government-funded research shows, however, that in some groups at least an increased egg consumption boosts the concentration of 'bad cholesterol' LDL and with it the risk of cardiovascular disease. [Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Aug;70(2):247-51.]

Study
Megumi Matsumoto, of Nihon University, wondered whether lutein could be added to full fat milk. She gave lab rats milk, lutein or milk with lutein daily for nine weeks. A control group was given nothing.

Results
The animals' cage had a treadmill in it. Matsumoto recorded the amount of kilometres the lab rats covered in the treadmill on a voluntary basis. She noticed that the combination of milk and lutein led to a drastic rise in the number of kilometres covered.


Lutein speeds up transformation from lazybones into athlete


In the animals' muscle cells the combination of lutein, milk and exercise resulted in increased activity of the enzyme carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1 [CPT1]. This enzyme helps mitochondria to burn fats.


Lutein speeds up transformation from lazybones into athlete


The combination also resulted in a rise in the total amount of AMPK [tAMPK] in the muscle cells as well as a noticeable rise in the amount of phosphorylated AMPK [pAMPK]. AMPK is an enzyme that becomes active when muscle cells have little energy available, and that stimulates muscle cells to develop. Substances that activate AMPK are often interesting for endurance athletes.

Matsumoto was able to show that when lutein was administered with milk it resulted in 2-3 times greater uptake than administering lutein without milk. She was also able to show that physical exercise reduced the amount of lutein in the blood. It seems that active muscles use lutein. Lutein helps muscles to perform better which is why the rats spontaneously ran further when they were given lutein and milk.

Effective human dosage
The researchers gave their rats 1 mg lutein per kg bodyweight per day. Converted to the amount for an adult human that would mean 10-15 mg lutein per day. Athletes can easily ingest this amount by eating vegetables or taking supplements. These will work better when combined with foods that contain fats.

Source:
PLoS One. 2014 Apr 3;9(4):e93529.

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