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Head-to-head Clinical Trial Results Show XANGOLD® Natural Lutein Esters Provide Bioavailable Lutein in Amounts Equal To or Greater than Free Lutein

Cognis’ XANGOLD® natural lutein esters provide a source of bioavailable lutein, according to a head-to-head study published by Tufts University’s Elizabeth J. Johnson, Ph.D., R.D., in the August issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Nutrition1. A clinical trial by the University of Illinois’ Phyllis Bowen, Ph.D., R.D., not only confirmed these findings but in further analysis found greater bioavailability from the ester formulation than from the free lutein formulation.

"We now have published data from two of the world’s leaders in carotenoids research demonstrating that esterification does not impair the bioavailablility of lutein,“ said Carrie Potaczek, XANGOLD® Product Manager, Cognis Nutrition & Health. "These results provide additional validation for our customers giving them clear evidence that the body digests lutein esters, converting them naturally to free lutein, which is readily absorbed,” Ms. Potaczek explained.

Scientists are interested in the mechanism by which lutein and other carotenoids may reduce the risks for cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Studies have shown that supplementation of lutein esters leads to an increased concentration of lutein in the eye, which may help maintain healthy vision. Therefore, investigators are working to determine in which form carotenoids are best absorbed by the body.

Johnson Research
Dr. Johnson, assistant professor and nutritional biochemist with the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Carotenoids and Health Laboratory, at Tufts University, Boston, USA, led a study to determine differences in the body’s absorption, or bioavailability, of lutein from eggs, spinach, and lutein/lutein ester supplements. She observed the greatest bioavailability of lutein from eggs, but there was no difference between the supplements and spinach. Further analysis showed that soft gel supplements containing lutein from Cognis’ XANGOLD® natural lutein esters and free lutein from VITAMIN POWER® Lutein capsules exhibited the same bioavailability.

“Our studies involving a chronic, oral dose of lutein (6 mg/day for 9 days) found that increases in serum concentrations of lutein were greatest for the lutein dose contained in egg,” Dr. Johnson explained. “The increases in serum lutein were not different among the other lutein doses (spinach, free lutein, lutein esters). The similar results between free lutein and lutein esters suggest that ester hydrolysis is not a limiting step for the absorption of lutein from lutein diesters. These results are consistent with other studies that have used lutein ester supplements and resulted in substantial increases in free lutein concentrations,” she said.

Ten healthy men comprising the study group consumed cooked spinach, eggs, lutein and lutein esters supplements in separate treatment phases in a randomized cross-over design. Dr. Johnson measured levels of lutein in their blood serum before, during and after each phase. The study, which was supported by the Egg Nutrition Center, used eggs from chickens fed a lutein enriched diet, containing approximately five times the amount of lutein contained in conventional eggs.”

Bowen Research

In a study2 conducted by Dr. Bowen, an international authority on carotenoids at the University of Illinois in Chicago, USA, lutein from a lutein ester formulation was found to have greater bioavailability than from a free lutein formulation. Statistical analysis showed that the powdered esterified lutein formulation provided by Cognis Corporation “was 61.6% more bioavailable than the unesterified lutein formulation”.3 While this study clearly demonstrated that esterification is not a limiting factor in lutein bioavailability, Dr. Bowen noted that “the bioavailability of lutein from supplements may depend to a great extent on industrial formulation and processing. . . ”

Bioavailability of Related Carotenoid Esters

Two studies recently published by scientists in Germany looked at the bioavailability of the carotenoids zeaxanthin and b-crytoxanthin—both are closely related to lutein in their chemical structures. Zeaxanthin is present in the retina where it forms the ‘macular pigment’, together with lutein. In the randomized, single-blind cross-over study4, 12 volunteers consumed zeaxanthin or zeaxanthin esters in yogurt. Zeaxanthin concentrations in blood increased after both consumption of free and esterified zeaxanthin. Zeaxanthin bioavailability was calculated using standard methods, and was significantly higher from consumption of zeaxanthin esters than from consumption of free, unesterified zeaxanthin.

Using the same methodology and design, the second study5 investigated the bioavailability of b-cryptoxanthin, which occurs mainly in yellow-to-orange fruit, both in free and in esterified form. Concentrations of b-cryptoxanthin in blood were similar, i.e., could not be distinguished, after consumption of b-cryptoxanthin or b-cryptoxanthin esters. The authors led by Dr. Dietmar Breithaupt from the Institute of Food Chemistry, University of Stuttgart-Hohenheim, and Prof. Dr. Andreas Hahn from the Institute of Food Science, University of Hannover, conclude: ‘the present results support the existence of an effective enzymatic ester cleavage system in the gut lumen’.

“These four studies show that esterification does not impair the bioavailability of carotenoids. Two of them even demonstrated the opposite: higher bioavailability from esters. Product formulators will welcome these findings as they select effective ingredients for foods and dietary supplements,” Ms. Potaczek explained.

With a growing body of evidence supporting the role of lutein ester supplementation for eye health, Cognis has recently petitioned the US Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a qualified health claim (QHC) linking consumption of XANGOLD® natural lutein esters to a reduced risk of AMD and cataracts.

XANGOLD® natural lutein esters, extracted from marigold flowers that are grown specifically for Cognis, are available in two forms suitable for foods and dietary supplements: 15% oil for soft gel capsules and oil based food products, and 10% microencapsulated beadlets for tablets or dry foods. Both forms are available in IP-certified, non-GM grades. XANGOLD®, which was the first source of lutein to complete the GRAS notification process in January 2003, is the natural ingredient of choice for successful eye health products, offering excellent bioavailability and stability.

For more information about Xangold® Natural Lutein Esters please visit or:

In North America, call 800.673.3702 to place an order, e-mail, or fax 513.482.3576.

In Europe, please call +49.211.7940.9692, e-mail, or fax +49.211.798.2390.

In Asia Pacific, call +61.3.9584.4588, e-mail, or fax +61.3.9584.8348.

1Chung H, Rasmussen HM, Johnson EJ. Lutein Bioavailability Is Higher from Lutein-Enriched Eggs than from Supplements and Spinach in Men. J Nutr 2004;134:1887-1893

2Bowen PE, Herbst-Espinosa SM, Hussain EA, Stacewicz-Sapuntzakis M. Esterification does not impair lutein bioavailability in humans. J Nutr.2002;132:3668-73

3The lutein formulation was a crystalline suspension in safflower oil (Kemin Industries); the lutein ester formulation was a highly concentrated powder (manufactured for Cognis Corporation); both formulations were packed into gelatine capsules for administration.

4 Breithaupt DE, Weller P, Wolters M, Hahn A. Comparison of plasma responses in human subjects after the ingestion of 3R,3R'-zeaxanthin dipalmitate from wolfberry (Lycium barbarum) and non-esterified 3R,3R'-zeaxanthin using chiral high-performance liquid chromatography. Br J Nutr 2004;91:707-713.

5 Breithaupt DE, Weller P, Wolters M, Hahn A. Plasma response to a single dose of dietary beta-cryptoxanthin esters from papaya (Carica papaya L.) or non-esterified beta-cryptoxanthin in adult human subjects: a comparative study. Br J Nutr 2003;90:795-801

About Cognis

Cognis is a worldwide supplier of innovative specialty chemicals and nutritional ingredients. It employs 8,500 people, and has production sites and service centers in almost 30 countries. The company delivers natural source raw materials and ingredients for food, nutrition and healthcare markets, and the cosmetics, detergents and cleaners industries. Additionally, Cognis provides solutions for a number of other industries, such as coatings and inks, lubricants, textiles and plastics, as well as agriculture and mining. Cognis has dedicated its activities to a high level of sustainability. Setting the standards on a global basis, Cognis, in 2001, became the first chemical company to achieve worldwide certification for both ISO 9001 (Quality Management Systems) and ISO 14001 (Environmental Management Systems).

Cognis is owned by private equity funds advised by Permira, GS Capital Partners, and Schroder Ventures Life Sciences. In 2003, Cognis recorded sales of 2.95 billion euros and an operating profit before depreciation, amortization and exceptional items (EBITDA recurring) of 312 million euros.

Caron Blitz, BLITZ + Associates, Inc.
Cognis Nutrition and Health
Email Address:
Telephone: 847/945-0101

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