Sunday, 10 December 2017

7 Important Nutrients For The Eye


The eye is a complex but very important organ of the body primarily responsible for vision.  The eye has the ability to process visual detail and also perform other photo response functions not related to vision. Hence a healthy eye is imperative for optimal eye function.

The eye, just like any other organ of the body benefits from good nutrition. However, certain nutrients are especially important for proper eye function.

These nutrients include;

Vitamin A

No other vitamin is so famed for its role in maintaining good vision as vitamin A. Vitamin A indeed is important for good eye function. Lack of adequate amounts of vitamin A leads to night blindness, dry eyes, thickening of the cornea and even total blindness. Vitamin A is also important in preventing formation of cataracts in older people.

Dietary sources of vitamin A are:
  • Carrots
  • Sweet Potato
  • Beef Liver
  • Eggs
  • Apricots
  • Milk & other dairy products

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Several studies now show that omega 3 fatty acids prevent macular degeneration and dry eyes. Omega 3 acids also help in sufficient drainage of intraocular fluid from the eye, decreasing the possibilty of high eye pressure, thereby reducing the risk of glaucoma.

Omega 3 acids are very important in preventing age related eye degeneration. Omega 3 acids are of real benefit when gotten from dietary sources and these include;
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel 
  • Cod liver oils
  • Shark liver oils
  • Tuna

Vitamin C

The eye needs adequate amounts of powerful antioxidants such as vitamin C. Studies show that people who take vitamin C regularly have lower risk of developing cataracts. Infact, people with cataracts have been shown to almost always have low levels of vitamin C.

Dietary source of vitamin C's still remain the best way to get vitamin C's in sufficient quantities easily utilized by the body.

Get your vitamin C's from:
  • Citrus fruits (e.g oranges, grapes, tangerine etc)
  • Water melons
  • Mango
  • Pawpaw
  • Strawberries
  • Cranberries

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin and a powerful antioxidant. However, vitamin E's important role in maintaining healthy eyes has to do with its ability to protect fatty acids (remember the omega 3 fatty acids) present in the eye from oxidation. Without the protective anti-oxidant action of vitamin E, fatty acids in the eye will degrade quickly.

Deficiency of vitamin E leads to degeneration of the retina and subsequent blindness.

The best sources of vitamin E from diet include:
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Flaxseed oils
  • Sweet potato
  • Avocado
  • Wheat germ oil
  • Almonds

Zinc

Zinc is an important mineral for the eye. The eye has high concentrations of zinc (present a lot more at the retina and choroid) as zinc is needed in the formation of visual pigments present at the retina. Zinc deficiencies is most certain to lead to blindness. 

Research has shown that age related macular degeration in older people can be slowed down  by 20 - 25% and visual acquity maintained by about 19%  if they take between 25mg - 40mg of Zinc supplements daily. At such doses however, zinc supplements should be taken along with low doses of copper as zinc interferes with copper absorption in the body.

Dietary sources of zinc are:
  • Oysters
  • Seafood (crabs, lobsters, shrimps)
  • Meat
  • Yoghourts and other dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Beans

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Lutein and Zeaxanthin are two carotenoid compounds found in the eye. They act as a filter, filtering off high energy, blue light wavelengths so as to protect the light sensitive cells of the retina from damage. To achieve this protective role, lutein and zeaxanthin are deposited in high amounts at the retina. Deficiency of luthein and zeaxathin results in retina degradation and damage.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are powerful antoxidants and together with vitamin E play a vital role in preventing cataract formation. Low levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in the eye is a major factor in the occurrence of cataracts, especially in the elderly.

Unfortunately, the body does not produce lutein and zeaxanthin, hence the need to get them in copious amounts from dietary sources or from nutritional supplements.

Dietary sources of lutein and zeaxanthin include:
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Egg yolk 
  • Green Peas
  • Sweet Corn

Selenium

Selenium is a trace mineral with abundant health benefits especially for the eye. First and foremost, selenium is a powerful antioxidant. It helps mop up free radicals and stops them from damaging cells in the eye which in turn reduces the risk of such damaged cells from depositing on the eye lens to form cataracts.

In combination with zinc, selenium prevents glaucoma by aiding the reduction in intraoccular pressure . Without selenium, zinc concentrations present in the eye cannot function properly to keep the eye healthy.

The body needs just trace amounts of selenium to benefit from its many healthy properties, hence dietery sources are more than sufficient to get all the selenium needed for each day.

Dietary sources of selenium are:
  • Mushrooms
  • Wheat
  • Brazil nuts
  • Lean meat
  • Beans
  • Green peas
  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Turkey
  • Fish
  • Eggs

AREDS2 Nutritional Supplement Formulation For The Eye

It is a recognised fact that a good number of people suffer from age related eye degeneration because of their inability to get the required amounts of nutrients and anti-oxidants necessary to keep the eye in healthy, functioning condition over time. 

This fact prompted the age-related eye disease study (AREDS) sponsored by the US national eye institute in 2001. The result of this study came up with a nutritional supplement formulation  designed especially for eye health (with the name AREDS formulation).

The AREDS formulation has recently been updated to AREDS2 formulation (which is the result of a second study by the US national eye institute in 2006 to improve on AREDS) to include lutein and zeaxanthin.

The goal of this improved formulation is to provide important nutrients and anti-oxidants (such as lutein and zeaxanthin) necessary to slow down age related eye degeneration and reduce the risk of cataracts and glucoma.

Nutritional supplements formulated and marketed for eye health must contain this AREDS2 formulation so as to provide optimum benefit to people at risk of age related eye degeneration 



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