The nutrients you consume have an impact on every part of your body, and that includes your eyes. For best results, make sure you have a balance of these: beta-carotene, zinc, Vitamin C, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Vitamin E.
Let's take a closer look at these 7 eye-friendly supplements.
We’ve all heard that for good eyes we should eat lots of carrots, right? But what is it about carrots that promote good ocular health? The answer is a plant pigment, Beta-carotene, which is responsible for the orange color of carrots. Beta-carotene is easily converted to vitamin A and is known to have antioxidant properties. When taken with zinc, vitamin C and vitamin E you can reduce the progression of macular degeneration, a condition that could lead to blindness. Beta-carotene is best obtained from foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, leafy green vegetables, cantaloupe, and apricots. However, if you are a smoker you should avoid beta-carotene supplements due to an increased risk of lung cancer.
So why do we need to take Zinc with our beta-carotene? Because zinc is an essential trace mineral that carries vitamin A to the retina where it can produce a protective pigment called melanin that is highly concentrated in the eye. It is recommended that people at high risk for macular degeneration get adequate amounts of this mineral. Too little zinc can cause poor night vision, cataracts, and loss of eyebrows and eyelashes. Zinc can be obtained from eating eggs, turkey, and oysters.
While eating those eggs for breakfast make sure to wash it down with a big glass of orange juice to get your recommended dose of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a known antioxidant that has been shown to lower risk of developing cataracts and slow the progression of macular degeneration when used with other nutrients, as indicated above. Other than orange juice, vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, berries, almonds, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and Brussels sprouts.
Lutein & Zeaxanthin are other plant pigments that help to filter out dangerous blue wave-length light (the light that causes biggest risk of cataract and macular degeneration progression) while also acting as an antioxidant. These pigments are deposited in high quantities into the macula, the part of the eye that gives us our sharp 20/20 vision. We can find these nutrients in leafy green vegetables, eggs, broccoli, and corn.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are important for visual development and retinal health, especially DHA and EPA. DHA is found in the highest concentrations in the retina. Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in controlling inflammation, a significant cause of Dry Eye Syndrome. These fatty acids can be found in fatty fish like sardines, salmon, and herring.
Vitamin E is an extremely strong antioxidant that can be found in nuts, vegetable oils, peanut butter, and sweet potatoes. Like other antioxidants, it helps decrease the development of cataracts and progression of macular degeneration.
For more information and recommended daily intakes of these nutrients go to the American Optometric Associations website.
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