What are the key nutrients for eye health?
Millions of Americans aged 40 and older have eye-related problems, such as cataracts and glaucoma. Many 50 years and older also develop age-related macular degeneration. Our eyes require a few specific nutrients. However, many people don’t get them in adequate amounts from their diets. (19)
The following are several of these important nutrients, what they do and how you can increase your intake:
Lutein and zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin, two powerful antioxidants, help protect your eyes from the damaging UV rays of the sun. They also help you see in low light. People who eat lutein- and zeaxanthin- rich foods, such as kale, broccoli, spinach, collard greens, carrots and artichokes, may lower their risk of cataracts by up to 50 percent, onestudy found. (20)
Omega-3 fatty acids
Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids may help protect individuals from developing retinopathy, the deterioration of the retina. Omega-3 fatty acids may also protect against age-related macular/degeneration and dry eye. Dietarysources of omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish (such as tuna and salmon),walnuts and flaxseed. Omega-3 fatty acids can also be found in some green vegetables, such as kale, Brusselssprouts, spinach and salad greens. (21)
A recent study showed that 500 mg/day of vitamin C, when taken with beta-carotene, zinc and vitamin E slowed the development of advanced age-relatedmacular degeneration by close to 25 percent.(22).
Vitamin C-rich foods include citrus fruits, spinach, tomatoes, bananas, apples and peaches. Several studies show vitamin C may help slow the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. A minimum intake of 300 mg/day of vitamin C may help fight cataracts.
This powerful antioxidant may help slow down the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, studies indicate. Four hundred lU/day of vitamin E, when taken with beta-carotene, zinc and vitamin C supplements, can slow the development of advanced age-related macular degeneration by about 25 percent in people who are at high risk for this condition.
Food sources of this fat-soluble vitamin include nuts, spinach, safflower oil, pumpkin, peanut butter and fortified cereals. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin E for adults is 22 IU of vitamin E each day. Do not take large amounts of vitamin E if you take supplements or medications that thin your blood because it may increase the risk of bleeding. (23)
Zinc is another key nutrient for eye health. Those who don’t have enough zinc may have difficulty seeing at night and may develop cataracts. A recent study found that people who take vitamin E, vitamin C and 40-80 mg/day of zinc may slow the development of advanced age-related macular degeneration by close to 25 percent.
Food sources of zinc include beef, seafood, pork, yogurt, eggs, milk and enriched cereals. It’s best to meet your zinc requirements with food, as zinc supplements can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb copper. If you take a zinc supplement, experts strongly recommend that you also take 2 mg/day of copper.
Copper helps the body absorb iron which prevents anemia. (24).
Be proactive by adding these nutrients to your daily diet. Speak to your pharmacist for additional information about these and other eye health supplements.
What are good foods to eat for healthy eyes?
Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables (especially green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and collard greens) are an important part of a balanced diet. They also help promote good eye health. Foods rich in omega-B-fatty acids, such as salmon, halibut and walnuts, may also be beneficial for eye health. (21) Eating a healthy diet that helps you maintain your ideal weight also reduces your risk of obesity and related diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension and other conditions, that can lead to vision loss. (26-28)