Vitamins and Minerals for Healthy Eyes
Many of us will remember our grandmas telling us to eat mashed carrots for good eyesight as we were little kids. Today we are learning that carrots as well as some other common vegetables from grandma’s garden are extremely beneficial to our eye health. We now better understand which nutrients do what for our eyes and where to find them.
Thanks to advances in agriculture and international trade we have a rich and varied supply of vegetables and fruits all year round. If we take the opportunity to provide our cells with the proper nutrients and avoid the harmful ones, we can improve our chances of long and healthy lives, complete with optimum vision. But, let’s face it, we do not always eat a balanced diet. Sometimes diseases prevent the absorption of essential nutrients from the food we eat. Sometimes genetics or medications promote premature aging. These are the situations when supplements may come in useful.
At the moment, it is not possible to scientifically determine if vitamins or minerals are needed to relieve suffering from cataracts, dry eyes, macular degeneration or other vision problems. We also do not know if the nutrients are absorbed properly and are going to the correct area. In addition, while taking supplements may not be harmful for most people, you should know that some may interfere with prescribed medications.
Most studies attempting to determine effectiveness of vitamins and minerals are usually limited to non-scientific evidence. Keep in mind that vitamins and minerals are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration or any other corresponding health authority in other countries and, therefore, not required to pass through the stringent testing that pharmaceutical drugs are subjected to. Hence, we should be skeptical about dietary supplements that claim to help with vision problems. Though many studies making these claims may have some scientific basis, they have not been tested sufficiently to isolate the effect, nor has testing been long enough and in a large enough sample size.
But there certainly are some vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that have been shown to promote vision and many ophthalmologists recommend them either in their natural form or as supplement pills. For example, some doctors recommend their patients who suffer from dry eyes dietary supplementation with flaxseed oil, ideally in capsule form 400mg twice a day. To help with macular degeneration, many ophthalmologists now suggest Ocuvite capsules and a diet rich in dark green leafy vegetables especially of the Cruciferae family, such as kale or spinach. There is no way to reverse cataract formation in a natural way, but you may be able to slow down its progression with antioxidants like lutein or zeaxanthin and one aspirin a day. Some experts also suggest a weekly intake of sunflower seeds or almonds for vitamin E, salmon and other oily fish for omega 3 fatty acids, dark leafy greens and various fruits for vitamin C, whole grains, beans and nuts for zinc, carrots, sweet potatoes and dark green leafy vegetables for vitamin A and dark green leafy vegetables and some other green or yellow vegetables for lutein and zeaxanthin. But, if you want to take supplements rather than adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet, keep in mind that you are probably not significantly deficient in any of these nutrients, so start with a low dose and build up slowly.
Right at the beginning we mentioned meshed carrots as a traditional food for healthy eyes. Carrots are a rich source of vitamin A (in form of beta-carotene) and beta-carotene is an essential ingredient found in most supplements that are claimed to promote good vision. However, beta-carotene has been linked to lung cancer in smokers so Ocuvite, for example, also offers formulas that do not contain beta-carotene. Although smokers and former smokers can eat vegetables rich in beta-carotene without increasing their risk of developing lung cancer, they should better avoid dietary supplements with high content of this vitamin. Remember, “everything in moderation”.
And last but not least, balance your meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, keep your weight and your blood pressure under control, enjoy life and keep a realistic and an optimistic attitude about your aging process.
Where to Get More Information: All about Vision