What are the key nutrients that are good for our eyes? by Randy Moore – You’ve heard the adage about some men being ambivalent about their health until a body part falls off. It’s a cute reference, but it also underscores a problem. Ambivalence can lead to painful consequences. Especially with heart health, but what about our eyes and vision health? Not taking care of our eyes with regular exams and good nutrition can increase the risk of undesirable conditions like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Getting an eye exam is as easy as making a phone call, but what about nutrition? What are the essential nutrients for eye health and what are the foods that provide them? According to research endorsed by the American Optometric Association, the most important nutrients for our eyes include lutein, zeaxanthia, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc.
Most of us are familiar with the two vitamins and the mineral zinc. Lutein (loo-teen) and zeaxanthin (zee-uh-zan-thin) help the macula of the eye to create a protective layer known as macular pigment. The macula is in the center of the retina, and it provides our sharp vision. This protective layer of pigment works like internal sunglasses to absorb damaging blue light, which penetrates deeper into the eye. It also helps our eyes recover more quickly from bright flashes of light. That’s important for driving at night.
Most of us are only getting about 10 percent of the lutein and zeaxanthin we need each day from our diet. The ideal daily amount is 10mg of lutein and 2mg of zeaxanthin.
Here are the foods that can deliver these eye-friendly nutrients: kale, spinach, turnip greens, broccoli, corn, green peas, green beans, romaine lettuce, eggs, and oranges. Even a cup of cooked kale or spinach each day exceeds the daily requirement of lutein and zeaxanthin.
All of us are familiar with foods associated with vitamin C (many fruits), vitamin E (nuts and seeds) and zinc (meat and dairy). We are less familiar with how these nutrients enhance eye health.
Vitamin C supports the health of ocular blood vessels and capillaries while promoting the absorption of iron. Vitamin E enhances the health of cell membranes and DNA repair. And zinc helps to bring Vitamin A from the liver to the retina to produce the protective eye pigment melanin.
Other good habits for supporting eye health as we age include wearing sunglasses, not smoking, controlling body weight, and limiting the consumption of alcohol.
Randy Moore is the publisher of South County Healthy Living and Englewood Healthy Living. Contact him at Randy@Triple3Marketing.com.