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Effect of n-3 fatty acid enriched eggs and organic eggs on serum lutein in free-living lacto-ovo vegetarians



Lutein is a xanthophyll found in the chloroplasts of dark green leafy vegetables, chromoplasts of fruits, and egg yolk. Dietary, serum and macular lutein are inversely related to the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Although the lutein from egg is known to be more bioavailable than that from spinach, not much is known about lutein bioavailability from n-3 fatty acid enriched eggs and organic eggs, both of which are increasingly available to consumers.


We determined the effects of feeding n-3 fatty acid-enriched eggs and organic eggs on serum lutein, zeaxanthin and β-carotene in 20 healthy lacto-ovo-vegetarian (LOV) adults using a single-blind, randomized, crossover study design with a 4-week washout between treatments: six organic eggs or six n-3 fatty acid enriched eggs per week or no egg control for 8weeks each.


Serum lutein was significantly higher in both egg treatments (P<0.009) compared with the control, but was not different between the two egg treatments. Serum β-carotene was also higher in the egg groups compared with control but only approached significance (P=0.066). Serum zeaxanthin increased in both egg treatments compared with control but did not reach statistical significance (P=0.139).


n-3 fatty acid enriched eggs and organic eggs may both significantly increase serum lutein in healthy LOV consuming a predominately plant-based diet.

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We would like to extend special thanks to Lisa Forde-Griffith for her technical laboratory assistance, the American Egg Board for their Graduate Fellowship Grant, the California State Polytechnic University for the Agriculture Research Initiative, and Chino Valley Ranchers (Irvine, CA) for supplying the eggs at no cost to the study.

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Correspondence to S Rajaram.

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Burns-Whitmore, B., Haddad, E., Sabaté, J. et al. Effect of n-3 fatty acid enriched eggs and organic eggs on serum lutein in free-living lacto-ovo vegetarians. Eur J Clin Nutr 64, 1332–1337 (2010).

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  • n-3 fatty acid egg
  • organic egg
  • age-related macular degeneration
  • lutein

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