Vitamins for vision

Did you know that adding powerful antioxidants to your diet could improve your eye health?

Photo courtesy of Perfect-Diet.net

Photo courtesy of Perfect-Diet.net

It is true, adding certain nutrients to your diet every day, either through foods or supplements, can help save your vision. Researchers have linked nutrients such as lutein/zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc to reducing the risk of certain eye diseases, including macular degeneration and cataract formation.

Here are some facts about these vision-saving nutrients:

  • Lutein and zeaxanthin reduce the risk of age-related vision problems, including age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. These important nutrients are found in green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach and turnip greens, as well as other foods, such as eggs.
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables. You can find it in fruits like oranges, kiwi, and strawberries, as well as vegetables like broccoli, mustard greens, and peppers. Scientific evidence suggests vitamin C lowers the risk of developing cataracts, and when taken in combination with other essential nutrients, can slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration and visual acuity loss.
  • Vitamin E in its most biologically active form is a powerful antioxidant. It can be found in nuts, like almonds, peanuts and pine nuts, dried apricots, sunflower seeds, fortified cereals and sweet potatoes. It is thought to protect cells of the eyes from damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals, which break down healthy tissue.
  • Essential fatty acids are a necessary part of the human diet. They maintain the integrity of the nervous system, fuel cells and boost the immune system. Two omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to be important for proper visual development and retinal function.
  • Zinc is an essential trace mineral or ‘helper molecule’. It plays a vital role in bringing vitamin A from the liver to the retina in order to produce melanin, a protective pigment in the eyes. Zinc is highly concentrated in the eye, mostly in the retina and choroid, the vascular tissue layer lying under the retina.

Now we know that incorporating vitamins in our diet can provide protection from eye diseases that arrive later in life. No matter your age, be proactive in your health. Strive to include as many colors of fruits and vegetables as possible!

~ Melissa Barnett, OD, FAAO
California Optometric Association
http://www.coavision.org
http://www.eyehelp.org

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Get your fix of eye healthy foods

Get your fix of eye healthy foods and protect yourself from eye disease at the same time with this easy guide to the best eye healthy foods.

We all are aware that eating a variety of healthy foods including tons of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts can help control weight and stave off many diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. The good news is those same healthy eating habits will also help reduce the risk of certain eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

Key nutrients for the eye include Lutein and Zeazanthin, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, Beta Carotene, Essential Fatty Acids and Zinc. These antioxidants and fatty acids can be easily added to your diet if you know where to find them:

Eyepic5_Jaime h

Photo courtesy of Jaime h on Flickr

  • Lutein & Zeazanthin are found in your green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale.
  • Vitamin C is found in citrus fruit, including oranges and strawberries.
  • Vitamin E is found in a variety of nuts as well as broccoli, mango, and kiwi.
  • Selenium is found in eggs, mushrooms, and grains such as brown rice.
  • Beta Carotene is found in sweet potatoes, kale, carrots and spinach. That ingredient is why we’ve always known that carrots are good for the eyes.
  • Essential Fatty Acids include the Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids found in fatty fish as well as walnuts, soybeans, flax seeds and tofu.
  • Zinc can be found in peanuts and cashews as well as dried beans and dairy foods.

Now that you know where to find these eye healthy foods, incorporate 8 servings in your diet per day and you will be on the way to a more healthier you, and at the same time helping to ensure that your vision will last a lifetime.

For more information, visit www.aoa.org and search for “Caring for your Vision” through “Diet and Nutrition.”

~Dr. Lisa Weiss, OD, MEd, FCOVD