Importance of Eye Nutrition
Are you at risk of cataracts and macular degeneration? Research suggests that antioxidants and some important nutrients may reduce these conditions. Blindness can be protected by vitamin A and vitamin C can play a role in preventing or alleviating glaucoma. If your experiencing dryness, omega-3 essential fatty acids appear to help the eye in a variety of ways by alleviating symptoms of dry eye syndrome to protecting the macula.
Vitamins And Micronutrients
This list of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients have been essential for good vision. Studies have shown these vitamins and nutrients may help your eyes be healthier and less prone to eye health conditions.
We recommend adding the following foods in your diet so you get the average daily dietary intake level to meet the requirements of nearly all healthy individuals in a specific life stage and gender group. Some eye care professionals recommend higher daily intakes of certain nutrients for people at risk for certain eye health conditions. Ask your eye care professional to learn more and expert advice.
(In the following list, mg = milligram; mcg = microgram (1/1000 of a mg) and IU = International Unit.)
- Eye benefits: Can reduce the progression of macular degeneration. Consume with zinc and vitamins C and E, beta-carotene for best results.
- Food sources: Carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, butternut squash.
- RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance): None (most supplements contain 5,000 to 25,000 IU).
- Eye benefits: May protect against cataracts and macular degeneration.
- Food sources: Tea, red wine, citrus fruits, bilberries, blueberries, cherries, legumes, soy products.
- RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance): None.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
- Eye benefits: May prevent cataracts and macular degeneration.
- Food sources: Spinach, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, squash.
- RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance): None.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Eye benefits: May help prevent macular degeneration (AMD) and dry eyes.
- Food sources: Cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring; fish oil supplements, freshly ground flaxseeds, walnuts.
- RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance): None. The American Heart Association recommends approximately 1,000 mg daily for cardiovascular benefits.
- Eye benefits: May reduce risk of advanced AMD when combined with carotenoids and vitamins C and E.
- Food sources: Seafood (shrimp, crab, salmon, halibut), Brazil nuts, enriched noodles, brown rice.
- RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance): 55 mcg for teens and adults (60 mcg for women during pregnancy and 70 mcg when breast-feeding).
- Eye benefits: May protect against night blindness and dry eyes.
- Food sources: Beef or chicken liver; eggs, butter, milk.
- RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance): 3,000 IU for men; 2,333 IU for women (2,567 IU during pregnancy and 4,333 IU when breast-feeding).
- Eye benefits: May reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
- Food sources: Sweet peppers (red or green), kale, strawberries, broccoli, oranges, cantaloupe.
- RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance): 90 mg for men; 70 mg for women (85 mg during pregnancy and 120 mg when breast-feeding).
- Eye benefits: May reduce the risk of macular degeneration.
- Food sources: Salmon, sardines, mackerel, milk; orange juice fortified with vitamin D.
- RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance): None. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 400 IU per day for infants, children and adolescents, and many experts recommend higher daily intakes for adults.
- The best source of vitamin D is exposure to sunlight. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun stimulates production of vitamin D in human skin, and just a few minutes of exposure to sunlight each day (without sunscreen) will insure your body is producing adequate amounts of vitamin D.
- Eye benefits: May reduce the risk of advanced AMD when combined with carotenoids and vitamin C.
- Food sources: Almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts.
- RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance): 15 mg for teens and adults (15 mg for women during pregnancy and 19 mg when breast-feeding).
- Eye benefits: Helps vitamin A reduce the risk of night blindness. May play a role in reducing risk of advanced AMD.
- Food sources: Oysters, beef, Dungeness crab, turkey (dark meat).
- RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance): 11 mg for men; 8 mg for women (11 mg during pregnancy and 12 mg when breast-feeding).
In general, it’s best to obtain most nutrients through a healthy diet, including at least two servings of fish per week and plenty of colourful fruits and vegetables.
If you plan to begin a routine of eye vitamins, be sure to discuss this with your optometrist. Taking too much of certain vision supplements can cause problems, especially if you are taking prescription medications for health problems.
Check Out other eye nutrition articles