Lutein is a nutrient that is found in many types of food, including green leafy vegetables like kale or collards, various fruits, and even in the yolks of eggs. The primary benefit of this nutrient is to support eye function and health. While a reasonable amount is healthy, it is possible to experience several lutein side effects if the amount absorbed each day is excessive.
The single most common of all lutein side effects is a discoloration of the skin. This condition, known as carotenosis, is brought on by the presence of carotenoids in the lutein. The end result is that too much of the nutrient leaves the skin with a somewhat yellowish tinge. Rarely do individuals develop carotenosis due to consuming foods containing the nutrient. More often, the problem can arise when packaged supplements are used, since the body has a harder time absorbing the necessary amount and flushing the remainder from the system. For this reason, many healthcare professionals encourage patients to obtain lutein through the diet rather than taking a supplement.
Some of the other common lutein side effects include itching at various points on the skin, as well as in the eyes. An excessive amount of the nutrient may cause some flushing of the face and a slight tingling that develops into itching on the forehead and the cheeks. There are reported cases where the itching also occurred on the legs and arms. When the itchy sensation occurs in the eyes, it often feels like sand has gotten into the eyes and cannot be removed.
There are less common lutein side effects that may take place. Some people find that too much lutein in the body makes it harder to swallow, which can make it harder to consume meals or take medication. Others notice that they seem to have some amount of chest pain, or that breathing becomes slightly more difficult. The side effects may linger for some time, or seem to appear at random, making it more difficult to associate them with an overabundance of the nutrient in the body.
In some cases, the different lutein side effects may be mild, while at other times they may be somewhat more pronounced. Since all these lutein side effects can also be symptoms of various types of health issues, consulting a physician is a good idea. Once those other ailments are ruled out, adjusting the diet and use of supplements to lower the amount of lutein ingested each day should cause the side effects to disappear.