Our eyes are probably the most important of all senses. However, poor lifestyle choices, excess exposure to the sun, aging, and several other factors can contribute to poor eye health and a declining vision.
An example among these concerns is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This occurs as a person climbs the age ladder and his eyesight weakens without rhyme or reason. Statistics say that as many as 11 million people in the US suffer from some kind of age-related macular degeneration.
This number is anticipated to double to about 22 million by 2050. The nutrients that you add to your plate can slash your odds of poor vision and eye health though. These can help fight free radicals that chip in significant damage to your eye health, nourish your eye cells, and more.
In this regard, here is a look at the nutrients that can help improve your vision and eye well-being. You will also learn which foods can provide a rich content of each of these nutrients:
1. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that showcases a powerful reputation for boosting your immune health in addition to delivering tons of other benefits including better vision. Vitamin C, which also goes by the name of ascorbic acid, safeguards your eyes from destructive chemicals and toxins from the environment.
Evidence suggests the taking vitamin C can lower the risk of developing glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration. The most prominent source of vitamin C is citrus fruits such as grapefruits, oranges, and papaya. You can also get vitamin C from green bell peppers, kale, and strawberries.
2. Vitamin E
In combination with vitamins A and C, vitamin E is great for ensuring the health of the tissues and cells in your eye. The role of vitamin E in your eye health revolves around keeping the harmful chemical reactions in your retina and lens at bay.
On top of that, vitamin E can help protect your eye against cataracts. Low levels of this vitamin are rare. However, a lack of vitamin E can culminate in visual degeneration, eye movement, and blindness.
Furthermore, there is evidence that vitamin E, vitamin C, and carotenoids can work together to lessen the risk of macular degeneration. The richest source of vitamin E is the wheat germ oil. Other sources include seeds such as pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds, avocados, vegetable oils, nuts such as hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, and pecans.
3. Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoid antioxidants. These are commonly recognized as macular pigments because these are often concentrated in the macula, the central part of the retina in your eye.
These antioxidants work as a natural sunblock, helping play a chief role in protecting the eyes against harmful blue light. In an observational study, it was learned that elderly folks and middle-aged people who took 6 mg of lutein and/or zeaxanthin daily reduced their odds of developing macular degeneration.
Researchers also learned that the participants in the study who consumed the highest amount of zeaxanthin and lutein lowered their risk of macular degeneration by 43% in contrast with the ones with the lowest intake of the carotenoids. Observational studies also indicate the zeaxanthin and lutein may help lower the risk of cataracts as well.
Some excellent sources of the carotenoid antioxidants include egg yolk, grapes, and leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, spinach, and collard greens.
4. Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3s boast a host of health benefits including lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels, fighting inflammation, and keeping eye damage at bay. Both the types of omega-3s including EPA and DHA are valuable for optimal eye health.
These help to enhance your vision and aid in the natural lubrication of eyes. Clinical trials indicate the omega-3 fatty acids can help lessen the risk of macular degeneration by as much as 60% in some instances.
Besides, a study showed that taking EPA and DHA supplements on a daily basis for three months helped people with dry eyes by increasing the formation of tear fluid and lessening the symptoms of dry eyes.
Additionally, omega-3s are credited for helping with other eye diseases as well. A study comprising of middle-aged and elderly individuals with diabetes concluded that having at least 500 mg of omega-3s daily may help lessen the risk of diabetic retinopathy.
Some of the best dietary sources of omega-3s include cold water, oily fish such as sardines, tuna, salmon, and mackerel. Try at least 2 servings of fish in a week to improve eye health. Other sources include nuts and seeds like walnuts and flaxseeds.
5. Gamma-linolenic acid
Gamma-linolenic acid is an omega-6 fatty acids which is present in small amounts in your diet. Unlike other omega-6 fatty acids, this nutrient boasts anti-inflammatory properties. These characteristics make it a useful fit for optimizing eye health.
A randomized controlled research project gave its participants with dry eyes 300 mg of gamma-linolenic acid in the form of daily evening primrose oil. The investigators noted an improvement in the participants’ dry eye condition in six months.
Some excellent sources of gamma-linolenic acid are starflower oil and evening primrose oil.
Zinc is a vital trace mineral that is pretty important for your body. You can get an idea of its significance from the fact that it is involved in more than 100 metabolic processes. Concerning your eye health, it is crucial as it helps convert plant-derived beta-carotene into vitamin A.
A shortage of this mineral can reach a finale of night blindness since it is involved in the conversion matters of vitamin A. Besides, the trace mineral is also involved in the formation of macular pigments, which is why the retina, particularly, the macula, contains the largest zinc content in your body.
There is some preliminary research that claims that zinc may slash the risk of macular degeneration. You can get your dose of zinc from food sources such as crabs, peanuts, grass-fed beef, lobster, and eggs. 2 oysters can give 8 to 11 mg of zinc for a day, which is sufficient for adults.
Like zinc, selenium is also a trace mineral. It works to strengthen your immune system while helping in absorbing vitamin E, which is essential for your eye health. It safeguards the lens and retina in your eye from damage from harmful toxins and chemicals.
Low levels of this mineral are associated with cataracts. There is evidence that suggests that combining selenium with carotenoids and vitamins C and E can chop the risk of developing macular degeneration.
What’s more, research says that taking zinc and selenium, 30 mg and 200 mg respectively, can help protect your eyes from glaucoma. What’s more, selenium is known for slowing the progress of eye symptoms related to Graves’ disease, an autoimmune condition that affects the thyroid.
Some excellent dietary sources of selenium include seafood, brazil nuts, turkey, garlic, brown rice, ham, cottage cheese, spinach, and seafood such as tuna, crab, shrimp, and halibut.
All in all, these nutrients are critical for your eye health. They can boost your vision, protect your eyes from free radical damage and inflammation as well as lower the risk of several eye diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration.