How can I take care of my eyes?
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. (60) Our eyes require several specific nutrients. Unfortunately, many people don’t get them in adequate amounts from their diets. Learn about 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 ultraviolet 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%. (61)
Omega-3 fatty acids
Early 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. Dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish (such as tuna, salmon, mackerel and herring), vegetable oils, walnuts and flaxseed. Omega-3 fatty acids can also be found in some green vegetables, such as kale, Brussels sprouts, spinach and salad greens. (62)
Several studies show that Vitamin C may help slow the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Vitamin C-rich foods include citrus fruits, spinach, tomatoes, bananas, apples and peaches. A minimum intake of 300 mg/day of vitamin C may help fight cataracts. 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-related macular degeneration by close to 25%. (63)
Studies have shown that this powerful antioxidant may help slow down the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. 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% 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 medicines that thin your blood. (64,65)
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%. 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. (66)
Be proactive by adding these nutrients to your daily diet. Speak to your local pharmacist for additional information about these and other eye health supplements.
Nutrients for eye health
|Lutein and Zeaxanthin||10 mg per day of lutein and 2 mg per day of zeaxanthin or as directed by your healthcare provider (61)|
|Omega-3 fatty acids||500 mg of EPA/DHA per day for healthy people (45)|
|Vitamin C||90 mg per day for men and 75 mg per day for women or as directed by your healthcare provider(63)|
|Vitamin E||22 IU per day (64)|
|Zinc||40-80 mg per day. Some newer studies recommend even higher levels. Discuss your needs with your healthcare provider. (66)|