Ocular Nutrition

Research suggests that more than forty vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are required on a daily basis for optimal ocular health and disease prevention. This large variety of nutrients lowers the risk of developing degenerative diseases of the eye, as well as lowering the risk of eye disease progression.

The major players include: macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), plant-based antioxidants, amino acids, and essential fatty acids. All nutrients work synergistically to perform specific functions in the human body, including the eye. Therefore, it is important to eat a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods as many days a week as possible. We also recommend supplementation with a biochemically-balanced (full-spectrum) micronutrient multiple as a nutrition insurance policy, since none of us consume a balanced diet every day, and many of us never do.

A full-spectrum vitamin/ mineral/ antioxidant multiple that protects the body and the eyes will include the following vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Recommended daily intake for healthy eyes includes: 

 

  • Vitamin C-  500mg/day

  • Vitamin E- 400 IU/ day

  • Lutein- 6-10mg/ day

  • Zeaxanthin- 2mg/day

  • DHA/ EPA- 500mg/day

  • Zinc- 40-80 mg/ day

  • Copper- 2mg/ day




Vitamins
 

Vitamin C

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables. Virtually all cells of the body depend on it, including those of the eye where it is actively concentrated in all tissues.

Benefits to Eye Health

  • Helps promote healthy capillaries, cartilage, and iron absorption

  • Supports the health of ocular blood vessels

  • Evidence suggests Vitamin C lowers the risk of developing cataracts, and when taken in combination with other essential nutrients can slow the progression of macular degeneration by 25% and visual acuity loss by 19%.

  • Studies show women taking a daily Vitamin C supplement for 10 years or more experienced a 64% reduction in the risk to develop nuclear cataracts.


Foods with Vitamin C
Orange and Grapefruit juices, Citrus fruits, Spinach, Tomato, Bananas, Apples, Peaches

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is also a powerful antioxidant.

Benefits to Eye Health

  • Promotes the health of cell membranes and DNA repair

  • Plays a significant role in our immune system

  • Evidence suggests Vitamin E in combination with other essential nutrients can slow the progression of macular degeneration by 25% and visual acuity loss by 19%.

  • Vitamin E can also significantly decrease the risk of cataracts.


Foods with Vitamin E
Cereal, Wheat germ, Almonds, Sunflower seeds, Hazelnuts, Peanut butter, Peanuts, Sweet potato

 

Carotenoids (Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Mesozeaxanthin)

Benefits to Eye Health

  • Carotenoids act as antioxidants, helping protect and maintain healthy cells.

  • They function like an internal pair of sunglasses for the eyes and filter harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light that can damage cells.

  • Studies show that lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation can significantly increase macular pigment optical density (MPOD) levels in the eye. Individuals with higher MPOD levels have a greater tolerance for the intensity of glaring light, and recover more quickly from glare. Shortened recovery time from glare can be critical for night driving.


Our bodies do not create the carotenoids we need, so it is essential to get them through our diet and/or nutritional supplements. Most nutritional formulations designed to protect the eye will include one or more of these carotenoids, and possibly beta carotene, lycopene and astaxanthin.

Food with Carotenoids
Kale, Spinach, Collards, Swiss chard, Turnip greens, Corn, Green peas, Broccoli, Romaine lettuce, Eggs, Oranges


Plant-Based Antioxidants
Gingko biloba, Bilberry, Grape Seed Extract, Resveratrol, Green Tea, etc. help protect the retina from destructive free radical damage called oxidation.


Amino Acids
N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) is frequently included, because it stimulates production of the master antioxidant, glutathione.

Taurine, an organic acid, is also included because it plays an important neurochemical role in retinal health.


Essential Fatty Acids
Dietary fat is an important source of energy and a necessary part of the human diet. The essential fatty acids include docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which builds up in the eye to protect the light-sensing nerve cells, and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which acts as a natural anti-inflammatory. The human body cannot produce Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids; therefore, they must be obtained from the diet or from supplements. Adequate amounts of the right type of both are necessary for optimal health.

Benefits to Eye Health

  • Support the cardiovascular, reproductive, immune, and nervous systems

  • Intake has been shown to be important for visual development and retinal function

  • Low levels of DHA/EPA have been linked to dry eye syndrome and associated with eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.


Foods with DHA/ EPA
Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel, Anchovy, Trout, Halibut, Scallops, Snapper, Flax


Mitochondria Nutrients and the Eye
Some eye-specific formulations include the three nutrients referred to as the mitochondria "housekeepers," CoQ10, Acetyl-l-carnitine, and Lipoic acid. Miochondria organelles are the energy source for every cell. The eyes and brain contain the largest number of energy producing mitochondria in the human body. Unfortunately, nutrient-deficient mitochondria start to decay around mid-life in many people.

 

 

Minerals


Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Copper, Manganese, Selenium, Molybdenum, Boron, Chromium, Vanadium, etc. 
Hopefully the supplement you choose includes minerals that are chelated (wrapped) with amino acids, or other appropriate nutrients, for optimal absorption.

Zinc

Zinc is an essential trace mineral or "helper molecule" that is vital to bringing vitamin A from the liver to the retina in order to produce melanin, a protective pigment in the eyes.

Benefits to Eye Health

  • Recommended for individuals diagnosed as high-risk for macular degeneration

  • Deficiencies have been linked to impaired vision, poor night vision, and cloudy cataracts

  • Evidence suggests zinc taken in combination with other essential nutrients can slow the progression of macular degeneration by 25% and visual acuity loss by 19%.


Daily intake of 40-80mg zinc dosage is for people diagnosed as being at high risk for macular degeneration or experiencing early-stage macular degeneration. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for zinc is 11mg for men and 8mg for women. High doses of zinc may cause upset stomach. Also, zinc supplementation has been known to interfere with copper absorption, so a 2mg/day of copper is strongly recommended for people supplementing their diet with zinc.

Foods with Zinc
Oysters, Beef, Lobster, Pork, Bran Flakes, Yogurt, Salmon, Milk, Eggs, Poultry

Copper

Foods with Copper
Mixed nuts, Sunflower seeds, Beef liver, Beans, Lentils

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