Nutrition for your Eyes – Veggies, Fruits, Fish and Supplements for Sharp Vision June 15, 2010

We bring you some nutrition tips for healthy eyes based on an article by Evelyn Theiss, The Plain Dealer.

Good nutrition for eye health goes beyond carrots and their beta carotene, doctors now say, and the addition of some key nutrients can help avoid two leading causes of vision loss and blindness — age-related macular degeneration and cataracts — and aid conditions such as dry eyes.

The key nutrients include lutein (it helps with night vision), zeaxanthin (it protects the eyes from ultraviolet damage and prevents free-radical damage to the retina and lens), omega-3 oils (the DHA in them prevents retinal damage), zinc (good for preventing macular degeneration) and vitamin A (helps our night vision, but excessive doses can be toxic.)

Lutein, especially, is crucial when it comes to eye health as we age — it is present in the macula of the retina and helps us discern fine details. We are born with a certain amount, but since the body doesn’t produce it, the amount of lutein in your eyes depletes with age — so the only way to get it is by ingesting it.

Ideally, at least nine servings total of fruits and vegetables a day are recommended for your eyes and your general health, particularly green leafy vegetables.Yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said less than 15 percent of the population consumes even five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

People who eat fish more than four times a week have a lower risk of macular degeneration than those who consume it less than three times a month. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to improve blood circulation to the eye.

Improving your nutrition is not necessarily easy. Take baby steps if you need to and consider taking supplements in case you decide to boost your totals using supplements.

The main nutrients shown to help you keep your eyes healthy as you age are those with the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin; essential fatty acids (omega-3s in particular); vitamins A, B, C and E; and zinc.

In the Age-Related Eye Disease Study, the National Eye Institute (of the National Institutes of Health) found that the combination of daily supplements to bring down the risk or progression of age-related macular degeneration is: 500 mg of vitamin C, 400 IU of vitamin E, 15 mg of beta carotene, 80 mg of zinc oxide and 2 mg of copper, also known as cupric acid. For the second ARED study now under way, the level of zinc has been cut back to 25 mg.

As always, it’s best to talk to your doctor for advice before starting a new regimen.

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