You only have one set of eyes which is why it is imperative to look after them. Your eyes are a pivotal part of living as they allow specific tasks to be completed with ease and allow appreciation of many things through the gift of sight. These two organs - although very small - are extremely important to the human body, which is why everyone needs to strive to keep them healthy! Here at Medical Arts Eye Clinic and Optical, we want to make it easier for you to keep your eyes healthy by providing the 10 best nutrients to try and include in your diet in order to optimize eye health.
Vitamin C also called, ascorbic acid, is a nutrient that is needed for many parts of the body to fight off infections and to keep the immune system strong. Unlike some animals, humans cannot produce this this vitamin, so it has to be consumed through foods or supplements. People take supplements and eat foods containing vitamin C to help their immune system fight off the common cold, bronchitis, glaucoma
, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts and other infections/diseases throughout the body. Foods that are rich in vitamin C are fruits - especially oranges - and vegetables. Although vitamin C is not considered a cure for disease or infection, it is used to help your immune system fight off conditions and, maintains eye health.
Vitamin E is an essential nutrient and antioxidant for the body. This nutrient is fat soluble and is used to protect, prevent and treat eye conditions such as cataracts or age-related macular degeneration (AMD). These two conditions - AMD and cataracts - are the most common cause for the loss of eyesight in people. Through research it has been shown that people with a higher intake of vitamin E have a 20% lower risk of developing AMD or cataracts. Foods that are rich in this nutrient include: vegetable and wheat germ oils, cereals, vegetables, meats, poultry, eggs and fruit.
Zinc is a mineral and is a key factor when it comes to keeping your vision healthy. It is also called an “essential trace element” because humans only require a small amount of it on a daily basis. Zinc is consumed for many reasons, but many people take it for eye diseases like AMD, cataracts and night blindness. Oysters are the best food to consume as they contain zinc naturally. Other foods that contain this mineral include: red meats, poultry, seafood, beans, whole grains and nuts.
Lutein is a carotenoid vitamin. Many people consider lutein as the “eye vitamin” as it is used to prevent many diseases found in the eyes. It is also one of the two major carotenoids found as a color pigment in the lens of a human eye. The function of lutein is to protect eyes from bright light and sun damage. Foods that are considered to be rich in lutein are leafy green vegetables like broccoli, spinach and kale. Other foods containing this vitamin include corn, kiwis, orange peppers, grapes, orange juice, zucchini and squash. No matter which type of food you choose to get your lutein intake from, remember it is best absorbed in the body when consumed with other high-fat foods.
Similar to the vitamin lutein, zeaxanthin is found throughout the lens, retina and macula within a human eye. It too protects your eyes from harmful light and sun damage. This nutrient is often combined with lutein, in order to get the most most beneficial results for eye health. Studies have shown that when people consume foods rich in zeaxanthin - and also lutein - like spinach, kale and broccoli, they can cut their chances of getting cataracts by 50%.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids with DHA and EPA
Omega-3 Fatty Acids with DHA and EPA are mainly found in fish oil. They are essential for normal growth and development of humans. Along with omega-3 with DHA and EPA, there is an omega-3 fatty acid found in plants (ALA). Although there are three types of sources for omega-3s, the type that is found to be most beneficial are the ones containing DHA and EPA. Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids are crucial when it comes to infant eye development. For adults, omega-3 fatty acids are used to protect against AMD and dry eye syndrome. The best way to consume omega-3 is by eating cold water fish, such as salmon. If you are not someone who enjoys seafood, many people opt to take a fish oil supplement.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin however, it is not present in many foods. The best way for someone to gain good vitamin D levels is via sun exposure. There are also dietary supplements, however sun exposure is the most efficient way to absorb this nutrient. Vitamin D aids the absorption of minerals calcium and phosphorous, which are responsible for keeping bones and teeth healthy. Studies have also seen a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and dry eye issues. By getting a healthy amount of sun exposure you are aiding in your overall eye health and preventing dry eye issues from developing.
Vitamin A is the name of a group of fat-soluble retinoids, for example beta carotene is included within this group. These nutrients are crucial when it comes to human eyes and the immune system functioning properly. Vitamin A is needed to aid proper vision as it is located in a protein that is used to absorb light in the retina receptors of the human eye. Foods that contain vitamin A are liver, fish oils, milk, eggs, vegetables and fruits.
Beta Carotene is group of red, yellow and orange pigments called carotenoids that are converted in the body into vitamin A. These carotenoids form part of what protects the surface of the eye, which in turn helps to produce good vision. While also providing protection to the eye’s surface, beta carotene is essential when it comes to treating dry eyes as well. Foods that are high in beta carotene as well as good for maintaining healthy eyes are sweet potatoes and carrots.
Last but not least, iron is a mineral that is essential for the body - as a whole - to maintain overall health. Iron is used to produce hemoglobin which is a substance that allows red blood cells to produce and carry oxygen to the body’s tissue. Without iron, our body would not have enough healthy oxygen being transported throughout it, resulting in feeling of fatigue and low energy. A lack of healthy oxygen in the body also leads to increased difficulty fighting off illness and can cause brain function issues. Iron also helps other nutrients in their absorption process into the body. Foods that are rich in iron are spinach, chicken and beef liver, oysters, beans, breakfast cereals and raisins.