Nutrition for Good Vision
Research has shown that nutrition plays an important role in maintaining healthy eyesight. In fact, a healthy diet can protect you from optical diseases like macular degeneration, glaucoma, dry eye syndrome, and cataracts as you age. By including a lot of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy proteins like omega-3 essential fatty acids in your diet you can keep your eyes working optimally for years to come.
Vitamins and Minerals and How They Benefit Vision
All vitamins have a positive effect on nearly every aspect of our health as long as they are consumed in appropriate amounts. However, the following vitamins and minerals are particularly beneficial for vision:
Vitamin A is found in abundance in dairy products, chicken/beef liver, butter, eggs, and cod liver oil, and has been shown to fight dry eyes by helping your eyes maintain ideal moisture content. Vitamin A consumption has also been linked to a reduced risk of night blindness.
All of the B vitamins have been shown to decrease chronic inflammation and lower blood homocysteine levels, thereby reducing the risk of vascular problems that can cause diseases of the retina. B vitamins may also be helpful in treating uveitis, one of the most common causes of adult blindness.
Vitamin C is perhaps one of the most important vitamins for our immune system and bodily functions. Found in all fruits and vegetables in varying amounts, vitamin C is particularly high in peppers, citrus fruit, and berries, and has been shown to reduce the likelihood of developing macular degeneration or cataracts later in life.
Vitamin D consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of age-related macular disease (AMD). Unfortunately, recent studies show that many people are vitamin D deficient, especially in areas where exposure to sunlight is less frequent. Aside from milk, which is usually fortified with vitamin D, good food sources include fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines. Cod liver oil provides more vitamin D than all of the aforementioned sources.
When taken in conjunction with vitamin C and carotenoids, vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to decrease the likelihood of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration. Nuts and seeds are excellent food sources of vitamin E.
Research shows that beta-carotene is another optically protective nutrient that prevents dry eyes and helps you maintain healthy vision in low-light conditions. Beta-carotene is found in abundance in vegetables like carrots, squash, kale, spinach, and potatoes.
Bioflavonoids are another potent antioxidant that protect your vision. This nutrient is found in abundance in berries, citrus fruits, beans, and teas.
Zinc works synergistically with vitamin A to protect your vision from degenerative diseases and improve optical efficiency at night. Our bodies only need a very small amount of zinc (between 10 and 100 mg per day) for it to be beneficial, and taking too much can cause negative effects.
A Natural Diet That Can Protect You from Aging Vision
Although some ophthalmologists recommend vision supplements that provide excessive amounts of nutrients in a single pill, taking too many supplements can cause negative side effects, particularly if you are taking prescription medication. Thus, some may find that a better approach would be to use supplements sparingly in conjunction with a natural diet that is high in all of the aforementioned nutrients.
Start by avoiding high sodium (salt) intake, as a diet high in salt typically causes fluid retention over time and has been linked to chronic inflammation that can lead to optical disorders. Make sure you're properly hydrated all times, and other than vegetable juices and a small amount of dairy, make water your main source of hydration. Although dairy is rich in vitamin D, ophthalmologists recommend avoiding excessive intake of red meats and dairy products, as this may increase your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. Instead, healthy proteins like those found in legumes, nuts, fish, and eggs are recommended.
Heavy intake of refined white flours and sugars has been linked to an increased risk of age-related macular degeneration and other optical diseases. Ophthalmologists recommend replacing white bread and sugar with whole-grain or unrefined alternatives. Consuming whole grains on a daily basis will also give your body fiber, which aids in the digestion process. Although it is a good idea to avoid excessive fat intake, there are some types of fats that are healthy, like omega-3 essential fatty acid. Consuming seafood twice per week, snacking on walnuts, or taking flaxseed oil can give you an adequate daily supply of this healthy protein that helps reduce inflammation and decrease the risk of many optical diseases.
If you start to notice any of the age-related vision problems, be sure to consult an eye doctor.
Using Supplements to Treat and Prevent the Advancement of Optical Disorders
Although adhering to the diet tips above will certainly be beneficial to your body, some individuals that already have optical diseases, or are more prone to develop them, may benefit more through the use of concentrated nutritional supplements. In fact, benchmark studies that have drawn links between proper nutrition and the prevention/treatment of optical disease all used excessive amounts of nutrients that could be difficult to obtain through natural diet alone.
Thus, if you're trying to treat a condition that is already developing, increasing your nutritional intake through supplements may be advisable. Ophthalmologists recommend at least 400 µg (micrograms) of folic acid, 400 IU of vitamin D, 500 mg of vitamin C, 10 to 15 mg of beta-carotene, and more than 2000 mg of omega-3 per day. Fortunately, there are vision supplements available that contain all of the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants shown to improve and protect optical performance.