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Vitamins and minerals that protect visionMedically reviewed by Tina Patel, Contact Lens Optician at Feel Good Contacts.
Eye health is just as important as keeping your body in check, which means you should make conscious decisions to consume the right foods as part of your eye care regime.
What vitamins are good for your eyes
There are many vitamins and nutrients that are beneficial for your overall eye health. Vitamin A, and vitamin c are both beneficial vitamins for eyes. You'll be sure to get these eye vitamins if you follow a balanced and healthy diet.
Best vitamins for eyes
The following eye vitamins can keep eye problems - such as macular degeneration and cataracts - at bay:
Vitamin A is a group of antioxidant compounds that play an important role in vision, bone growth and health of the immune system. This vitamin for eyes helps to protect the surface of the eye, making it an effective barrier to bacteria and viruses.
In 2011, a team of researchers from Columbia University Medical Center in New York, found that an altered form of vitamin A can help to slow the progression of Stargardt's disease - an inherited eye condition that causes severe vision loss in young people.
Sweet potatoes, carrots, apricots and red peppers are rich sources of vitamin A.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin and powerful antioxidant. It is found in foods such as citrus fruits and leafy green vegetables.
As well as helping to promote healthy bones and skin, vitamin C has been shown to protect the eye and reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
It should be noted that unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as smoking, can reduce the effectiveness of vitamin C. Therefore, researchers have advised that smokers need more vitamin C than non-smokers.
Foods containing beta-carotene are good for your overall eye health as they can enhance night and peripheral vision. Beta-carotene can be absorbed by the body and turned into vitamin A when you include the following foods in your diet:
- Bell peppers
- Sweet potatoes
- Kale, spinach and other leafy, green vegetables
Lutein and zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are both plant compounds that exist as part of the carotenoid family. They can be found in the macula and retina of your eyes and help to protect your eyes from damage by filtering out blue light.
Both these carotenoids are found in spinach, kale and collard greens.
Supplements containing vitamins for eyes
You can get most eye vitamins through your diet, however, your doctor may recommend that you take supplements if you are lacking in a particular vitamin for eyes or overall health in general.
The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS 2) presented research that suggested specific eye vitamins in high concentrations could benefit those with Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by helping to slow down the disease.
The following ARED 2 formula was recommended by the National Eye Institute:
- 500mg vitamin C
- 400 IU vitamin E
- 80mg zinc
- 2mg copper
- 10mg lutein
- 2mg Zeaxanthin
Getting vitamins through your diet is the best way to ensure optimal health. We would recommend that you seek medical advice from your doctor before taking any supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to our diet, because the body cannot produce them. Instead, they must be obtained from food. Oily fish, such as salmon, tuna and sardines, are rich in omega-3.
Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids are vital for normal infant vision development. One study found that infants aged between two and four months showed significantly better visual acuity when fed an omega-3 supplemented formula than infants of the same age who were fed a formula without omega-3 fatty acids.
Zinc is a mineral that is important for the normal functioning of the immune system and brain. What's more, it is also beneficial to eye health. This is because high levels of zinc are found in part of the retina called the macula. Zinc enables vitamin A to produce a pigment known as melanin, which helps to protect the eye.
In the Age-Related Eye Disease Study, individuals who were at high risk of developing advanced stages of macular degeneration had a 25 per cent lower risk of developing the condition after taking a supplement containing zinc.
Foods such as oysters, beef, lobster and pork are rich sources of zinc.
Nutrients, minerals and vitamins for eyes are all essential in a healthy and balanced diet. While supplements can provide us with these vitamins and minerals for overall eye health, you'll also find them in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins and healthy fats.