Carotenoids are a group of more than 600 yellow, orange, and red compounds found in may colorful fruits and vegetables. They have antioxidant properties and some can have vitamin A activity. The most prevalent carotenoids in the North American diet are beta carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in green leafy vegetables. They do not have vitamin A activity as beta carotene does, but are concentrated in the macula of the eye, where they protect against oxidative damage. For example, broccoli has 1,277 mcg of lutein and zeaxanthin and are being extensively researched for their ability to reduce or prevent macular degeneration, the number one cause of blindness in older adults. A new study has investigated the role of lutein in cognitive memory especially in older people. Best to get your carotenoids from real foods, not supplements.