Eye Nutrition

Eating lots of carrots isn't necessarily the key ingredient to healthy vision. While carrots contain a lot of vitamin A, an important vitamin for the eyes, it is only useful for those who are vitamin A deficient - which is not very common. Below you can find nutrients for the eyes that help in the prevention of macular degeneration, cataracts, and dry eyes.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin - Found in green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach as well as other foods like eggs yolks. Many studies show these antioxidants to be key contributors to reducing risk of macular degeneration and cataracts by filtering harmful high energy blue wavelengths. The FDA does not currently have any daily recommendations for lutein and zeaxanthin, however, many studies show 10mg of lutein along with 2mg of zeaxanthin to be beneficial for macular degeneration.

Vitamin C - Found in many fruits and vegetables, this antioxidant is shown to reduce progression of macular degeneration when combined with other nutrients. It also reduces progression of cataracts. The FDA has recommended a daily intake of 90mg/day for males, and 75mg/day for females.

Vitamin E - A powerful antioxidant found in nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts and sunflower seeds. It protects the eye from unstable molecules known as free radicals, which otherwise damage healthy tissue. When combined with other nutrients (such as vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin and zinc), vitamin E can help reduce progression of macular degeneration. The FDA has recommended a daily intake of 22 IU of vitamin E per day (higher for macular degeneration patients).

Zinc - Found in red meat, poultry, eggs, mixed nuts and tofu, this trace mineral plays a vital role in the eyes. It is highly concentrated in the retina and underlying structures. It helps in bringing vitamin A from the liver to the retina to produce melanin - a pigment that protects the eyes. Zinc has also been shown to reduce the progression of macular degeneration. The FDA recommends a daily intake of 11 mg for males, and 8 mg for females (higher for macular degeneration patients).

Omega-3 Fatty Acids - Found in fish and plant oils, these fatty acids cannot be synthesized by the human body but are very important for human metabolism. Recent studies have shown that eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (two types of omega 3 fatty acids - found in fish) reduce the risk of macular degeneration. This same study, however, suggested that ALA consumption (another omega 3 found mostly in plant oils) may actually increase the risk of macular degeneration. Great sources of EPA and DHA can be found in salmon, herring and mackerel. DHA is now widely being used as a food supplement and one can now find DHA-fortified dairy items such as milk, yogurt and cooking oils in grocery stores. In addition to its benefits for macular degeneration, DHA has been shown to be a key component of healthy brain development as well as retinal brain development, especially in infants and young children. It has also shown benefit for dry eyes, especially when caused by meibomian gland dysfunction. The American Heart Association has recommended a daily intake of 0.5-1.0 grams of EPA and DHA. The FDA has stated that consumption of up to 3 grams per day is considered safe.

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