Eye Health and the Role of Nutrition
In the past, eye health really only consisted of eating carrots and seeing your eye doctor for a basic check-up once every year or so. Today, however, eye health is not only a major concern, but is the center of comprehensive research and breakthroughs. In particular, medical research is now finding that nutrition plays the most important role in eye health and in the prevention of major age-related eye diseases such as Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD), Cataracts, Glaucoma and Diabetic Retinopathy.
In fact, a recent study funded by the Federal Government and completed by the National Eye Institute (NEI) on the role of nutrition and vitamins in preventing age-related eye diseases showed that certain vitamins and nutrients played a key role in eye disease prevention. The study, Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), showed that some nutrients and vitamins can prevent major age-related eye diseases by up to 39%.
Foods for Good Eye Health
We have all heard that carrots are good for the eyes. Carrots contain beta-carotenes, and beta carotenes are converted by the body to create Vitamin A - which plays a key role in the bio-electrical processes in the eye - and also help the body to rid itself of free radicals.
Other foods that Vitamin A and beta carotene are:
- Beef Liver
- Chicken Liver
- Sweet Potato
- Butternut Squash
- Red Pepper
Vitamin C and bioflavonoid can not only reduce the risk of cataracts, but also contain antioxidants that help rid the body of free radicals. Studies have also linked Vitamin C to the prevention of Glaucoma by regulating intraocular pressure.
Some foods that contain Vitamin C are:
- Red Pepper
- Green Pepper
Lutein and its advantages to eye health have recently undergone comprehensive study (such as with the AREDS study mentioned above). Medical research has found that lutein may have even higher health benefits to your eyes than Vitamin A.
Some foods that contain Lutein are:
- Collard Greens
Vitamin E is another essential vitamin to complete eye health. Some studies have shown that Vitamin E can reduce the risk of developing advanced Age-Related Macular Degeneration by up to 25%.
Some foods that contain Vitamin E are:
- Sunflower seeds
Other Beneficial Foods
In addition to the major vitamins and nutrients listed above. There are other foods that can help in the overall health of your eyes. Flax seed oils can promote excellent eye health. They are rich in essential fatty acids, particularly Omega-3 fatty acids, which work throughout the body to protect cell membranes. Selenium (found in yeast, sea foods and Brazil nuts) and zinc (found in oysters, wheat, nuts and hamburgers) help your body to absorb and convert many of the vitamins listed above. In addition, zinc plays a major role in the enzymes responsible for ridding your body of antioxidants.
The Bilberry is perhaps the one of the most beneficial foods for complete eye health. This unassuming berry has a multitude of attributes conducive to excellent eye health. Bilberries contain natural antioxidants which strengthen blood vessels (including those in and around the eye). Bilberry also contains both Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Chromium can also be found in bilberries, and is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels (protecting small blood vessels and overall health). Lastly, bilberries have been shown to regulate intraocular pressure, thereby lessening the risk of developing Glaucoma.
Supplements for Eye Health
Making sure you provide yourself with a steady diet of the above foods is not always easy. This is where supplements for the eyes come in. You can now purchase supplements that provide vitamins and mineral to promote excellent eye health.
Your eyes are important. There is almost no task or action you take throughout the day where you do not use your eyes. Sadly, many people take their eyes for granted. Taking an eye supplement once a day to promote excellent eye health may be the best investment you ever make.