Nutrition and Your Eyes
With all the feasting that goes on around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, I thought I’d write about the nutrition you’ll be getting and which nutrients can enhance the health of your eyes. In the 1990s, the National Eye Institute conducted a major study that examined eye health and nutrition. This extensive study concluded that high levels of vitamins A, C, and E and the mineral zinc significantly reduce the risk of advanced macualar degeneration and its associated vision loss. This study showed no impact on cataracts, but more recent data suggests that eye supplements containing vitamin C may be helpful in reducing the risk of cataracts.
How do specific nutrients strengthen your eyes? Vitamin A improves night vision. In fact, vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of blindness in developing countries. B complex vitamins may promote healthy blood flow to the retina and reduce the risk of macular degeneration. Vitamin D is also associated with a lower risk of macular degeneration, and vitamin E joins vitamin C in helping to reduce the risk of cataracts. Lastly, omega-3 fatty acids like flaxseed oil and fish oil may reduce the risk of dry eyes.
Now that you know what you need, you need to know where to get them if you don’t want to take too many supplements. Good sources of vitamin A are carrots and sweet potatoes, so have a nice serving of that sweet potato casserole or carrot souffle. Help yourself to the steamed broccoli and fruits to get a dose of vitamin C. Put some sunflower seeds or almonds on your salad for a healthy helping of vitamin E. And you can be sure to get omega-3 fatty acids in cold water fish like salmon and trout. For those of you scoffing at these healthy suggestions, have a hamburger to get your zinc! But don’t overdo it on the refined sugars. It can cause a spike in your blood sugar which, in turn, can increase your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.