+49 30 838 52256
Lutein and its isomer zeaxanthin have gained considerable interest as possible nutritional ingredient in the prevention of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in humans. Egg yolk is a rich source of these carotenoids. As an oxidative sensitive component, antioxidants such as α-tocopherol (T) might contribute to an improved accumulation in egg yolk. To test this, chickens were fed lutein esters (LE) with and without α-tocopherol as an antioxidant. After depletion on a wheat–soya bean-based lutein-poor diet for 21 days, laying hens (n = 42) were equally divided into three groups and fed the following diets for 21 days: control (basal diet), a LE group (40 mg LE/kg feed) and LE + T group (40 mg LE plus 100 mg T/kg feed). Eggs and blood were collected periodically. Carotenoids and α-tocopherol in yolk and blood plasma were determined by HPLC. Egg yolk was also analysed for total carotenoids using a one-step spectrophotometric method (iCheck(™)). Lutein, zeaxanthin, α-tocopherol and total carotenoids in egg yolk were highest after 14 days of feeding and decreased slightly afterwards. At the end of the trial, eggs of LE + T group contained higher amount of lutein (13.72), zeaxanthin (0.65), α-tocopherol (297.40) and total carotenoids (21.6) compared to the LE group (10.96, 0.55, 205.20 and 18.0 mg/kg, respectively, p < 0.05). Blood plasma values of LE + T group contain higher lutein (1.3), zeaxanthin (0.06) and tocopherol (20.1) compared to LE group (1.02, 0.04 and 14.90 mg/l, respectively, p < 0.05). In conclusion, dietary α-tocopherol enhances bioavailability of lutein reflecting higher content in egg yolk and blood plasma. Improved bioavailability might be due to increased absorption of lutein in the presence of tocopherol and/or a greater stability of lutein/zeaxanthin due to the presence of α-tocopherol as an antioxidant.