Disadvantages of lutein supplements may include negative side effects, such as stomach cramps, rash, hives, difficulty breathing and facial swelling in those with allergies to the plant material from which manufacturers derive the supplements, reports SFGate. High dosages of lutein over a long period of time may also cause yellowing of the skin. Sufficient research does not exist to ascertain the safety of lutein supplements for children, pregnant and nursing mothers, and those with kidney and liver disorders.
Lutein, also known as xanthophyll, is a carotenoid with antioxidant properties that occurs naturally in a variety of vegetables and fruits, explains About.com. Supplements contain concentrated amounts of lutein. Because dietary supplements are largely unregulated and untested for safety, people should not use lutein supplements without first checking with their doctors. Health care providers can recommend specific supplements and dosage limits that meet patients' health needs. People should also consult their doctors before taking lutein supplements while they are taking over-the-counter or prescription drugs, adds SFGate.
Some studies indicate that taking lutein supplements helps vision improve in people with age-related macular degeneration and also enhances vision in normal healthy adults, according to About.com. Advocates of alternative medicine claim that lutein is also effective in preventing breast cancer, colon cancer, heart disease and diabetes. People can increase their daily lutein intake without supplements by eating foods such as spinach, kale, green beans, cabbage and papaya.