Our eyes like all the other parts of the human anatomy benefit intensely from the right nutrition and is harmed by poor nutrition. Vitamins and nutrients are essential to the healthy eye. Aside from growing up hearing that carrots were good for our eyes, can we name any other foods or nutrients that are specifically responsible for better eyesight?
Foods and Nutrition for Better Eyesight
There is an increasing amount of research today that shows that certain foods, vitamins, and nutrients can improve eye health. Good nutrition can even prevent or cure certain eye ailments such as Age Related Macular Degeneration, Dry Eye Syndrome, Glaucoma, Diabetes-related blindness, and the need for reading glasses.
This research leads many eye specialists to believe that antioxidants handle many of these improvements in eye care. These include vitamins A, D, E and C, Omega-3 essential fatty acids, Lutein and Zeaxanthin, Beta-carotene, Selenium, Zinc and Flavonoids.
Many of the current studies are flawed however because they cannot tell us which vitamins should be taken or what quantities are needed because the studies are all focused on different foods, different combinations and different vitamins. No one study gives specific direction except in making it apparent that antioxidants help prevent and slow down these eye problems.
Currently, the National Eye Institute has an ongoing study regarding the use of nutritional supplements and prevention of AMD (Age-Related Macular Degeneration), those with cataracts, and patients with healthy eyes.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
These are some of the most recommended nutrients for preventing AMD and cataracts. They are found in leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collard greens and turnip greens.
Flavonoids or bioflavonoids may offer the eyes protection against these conditions, AMD and cataracts. They are found in legumes (beans), cherries, tea, soy products, red wine, blueberries, citrus fruits and bilberries.
When beta-carotene is combined with Vitamin C and zinc, it can be very beneficial in slowing the progress of AMD. It can be found in butternut squash, kale, sweet potatoes, spinach and of course carrots.
This mineral might prevent both Age-related Macular Degeneration and night blindness. It is found in dark fowl meat, Dungeness crab, beef, and Oysters.
This needs to be combined with Vitamin E and C and carotenoids to reduce the risk of Age-related Macular Degeneration. Seafood such as salmon, crab, halibut and shrimp contain selenium. Also found in noodles, Brazil nuts, and brown rice.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Studies have also shown these might prevent Dry Eye Syndrome and AMD. The foods with these nutrients include salmon, mackerel, herring and other cold water fish, also walnuts, flaxseeds and fish oil.
This vitamin might offer protection against the risk of AMD and cataracts. It is found in broccoli, kale, red and green peppers, cantaloupe, strawberries, and oranges.
The “sunshine” vitamin may be helpful in reducing AMD risks and can be found in milk, mackerel; many orange juices are fortified with it, sardines, and salmon. However, the sunshine produces substantially more Vitamin D than any food source can provide.
This vitamin also needs to be combined with vitamin C and carotenoids to protect against the possibility of Age-related Macular Degeneration. Foods that it is found in include hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, and almonds.
This vitamin has long been known to help with night blindness but now is also seen as protection against Dry Eye Syndrome. You can get Vitamin A from many foods including eggs, liver, milk, and butter.
Many of us have diets that do not support the consumption of these nutrients in quantities needed to support eye health. For this reason, multiple vitamins and minerals specially made for eye health have become popular in over the counter retail shops.
For Dry Eye Syndrome, in particular, the omega-3 supplements seem effective according to recent research cited by Jimmy Lee, MD, director of the refractive surgery at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.
Given all this information it would be wise for all of us to attempt to increase the amounts of all of these vitamins and nutrients into our diets. Remember those carrots? Well keep eating them and just add some of these recommended foods to your diet as well.