Nutrition and Eye Health
Most of us would agree that good vision significantly improves our quality of life, but did you know that adding certain foods and nutrients to your regular diet can help to maintain your vision? Research has shown that consuming vitamins and minerals such as lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E and omega-3 help to maximize your eye health and lower your risk of certain eye conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin: Lutein and zeaxanthin are important nutrients that act as antioxidants and counteract the effects of detrimental short-wavelength blue light that can hasten macular degeneration and cataracts. These nutrients can be found in dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, orange peppers, egg yolk and grapes.
- Vitamins A, C and E: Fat-soluble vitamins A, C, and E are essential for optimal eye health. Vitamin A, found in whole milk, cheese and beef, supports the growth of the protective mucous membranes of the eye, thus reducing the risk of infection.Vitamin C, plentiful in dark leafy greens, citrus fruit, broccoli, and berries, lowers the risk of cataract formation. When combined with other nutrients, vitamin C also reduces the risk of macular degeneration. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can be found in nuts and sweet potatoes. It is responsible for protecting the cells of the eye and body from molecules called free radicals that damage healthy tissues.
- Essential Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential because our bodies cannot produce them. We must be ingested through the foods we eat. Omega-3 is important for optimal brain and nervous system health, boosting the immune system, and for visual development and health of the retina. Omega-3 can be most easily acquired through certain kinds of fatty fish, but also from plant-based foods such as dark green leafy vegetables, flax and nuts. In order meet Health Canada’s omega-3 guidelines, most of us need to consume a dietary supplement.