Nutrition for Eye Health
Our eyes require several nutrients to function optimally and maintain its health. In the last 20 years, eye health research has linked diet and nutrition with a decreased risk of macular degeneration (AMD), slowed progression of the disease in those that have AMD, cataracts, dry eye, visual loss and floaters.
A major clinical trial, the Age-Related Eye Diseases Study (AREDS), showed that Vitamin C (500 mg); Vitamin E (400 IU); Lutein (10 mg); Zeaxanthin (2 mg); Zinc oxide (80 mg); and Copper oxide (2 mg) is beneficial. NOTE: Don’t take any supplement or herbal medicine without first consulting with your doctor. Many of these ingredients can interact with other medications or medical conditions and should only be taken under a doctor’s supervision.
In addition, other studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA and Vitamin A (Beta-carotene), water, and various other antioxidants are also good for eye health.
Here are the key eye health nutrients and the foods highest in them.
The other name for vitamin A is beta carotene. Vitamin A is found in orange and yellow vegetables such as carrots, sweet potato, dark leafy greens like spinach, kale romaine, butternut squash, dried apricot, mango, red pepper.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables. Oranges, grapefruits, spinach, tomato, lemons, limes, red peppers, guava, dark green leafy vegetables (kale), kiwi, broccoli, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, pomelo clementine, papaya.
Lutein is a powerful eye-protective antioxidant found in dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, peas.
Zeaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant found in collard greens, kale, orange peppers, dried goji berries. To obtain the most antioxidants, which protect your eyes by reducing damage related to oxidizing agents (free radicals) that can cause age-related eye diseases, choose dark green, yellow or brightly colored fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant found in fortified cereals, tofu, cooked spinach, Swiss chard, almonds, sunflower seeds, avocado, shrimp, rainbow trout, and olive oil. It is thought to protect cells of the eyes from damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals which break down healthy tissue.
EPA and DHA
EPA and DHA provide structural support to cell membranes to boost eye health. It is found in cold water fish like wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, and cod and in lesser amounts in flaxseed and walnuts. You should have about 2,000-3,000 mg daily. To obtain this much you most likely need a supplement.
Zinc Some of the best sources are oysters, crab, lobster, beef, lamb, wheat germ, spinach, pumpkin seeds, cashew, cocoa and chocolate, pork, chicken, beans, chickpeas, mushrooms.
Anthocyanin-rich blueberries, grapes, and goji berries have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can help improve your vision. Raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, bilberry, elderberry, cranberry, cherry, plums, pomegranates, bananas, eggplant, red cabbage, red fleshed peaches, black beans and kidney beans.
Oyster, kale, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, mushrooms, chickpeas, dried apricots, dried prunes, avocado, goat cheese, tempeh, miso.
The eye contains 99% of water so it is always good to drink more than usual.
Sources and Citations