A proper diet and nutrition are essential for health and growth, and this also holds true for the eyes. Nutrients and micro-nutrients found in our food are necessary for cellular regeneration, maintaining tissue health, and for fighting against diseases.
Regular exercise and a well-balanced diet are crucial for general well-being and protecting against many health conditions. These will help you have excellent eyesight and healthy eyes, and also will help you attain an optimal body weight for overall health too.
What all eye diseases can be helped with a proper diet plan?
The following diseases and their progression have been found to be linked with deficiency of certain micronutrients. These include cataract, night blindness, conjunctival and corneal xerosis, and Macular Degeneration (AMD).
What are the specific components of food that help?
Antioxidants are specific micronutrients that combat the ill effects of free radicals and other oxidants in the eye and help ward off signs of ageing.
The most commonly researched antioxidants are vitamins A, C and E. They are found explicitly in fruits and vegetables, like oranges and other citrus fruits, tomatoes and in green leafy vegetables. They are also present in nuts, seeds, dairy products and other food types. Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, along with selenium are the essential nutrients to reduce cataract risks and degeneration of macula.
Vitamin A is especially helpful in night blindness, dry eyes (xerosis), and macular degeneration. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and combats free radicals, supports healthy blood vessels, and prevents ultraviolet radiation-induced damage within the eye. Vitamin E is known to regulate enzyme activity, and help in neurological functions.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Both are yellow plant pigments and found in yellow and orange peppers, sweetcorn, saffron, kale, spinach and broccoli. Lutein and zeaxanthin cannot be produced by the human body, and have to be consumed as food, and are especially of unique benefit in diseases of the macula.
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids are necessary for the cellular development and in the formation of cellular membranes. The two types of essential fatty acids that are responsible for eye health are Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids. They are known to improve the nerve conduction in the retina and prevent deterioration of cell membranes, thereby reducing the risk of vision loss due to macular degeneration and glaucoma. Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids are found in oily fish like salmon and halibut, in walnuts, flaxseed, soybean, and dark leafy vegetable. Omega 6 Essential Fatty Acids are available in linoleic acid, vegetable safflower, sunflower oil, and grape seeds.
Carotenoids, especially, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, gamma-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin are precursors of visual pigment and have an action similar to vitamin A activity. Astaxanthin is a fat-soluble carotenoid that is a very potent antioxidant and is known to decrease the risk of cataract, retinal detachments, and macular degeneration.
Zinc, Chromium, Copper, and Selenium are essential minerals which are vital for eye health and help in rejuvenating the eye and improving vision
What should I eat for healthy eyes?
- Having a wide variety of foods in your diet is necessary. Eating whole grains and cereals help decrease the risk of age-related eye diseases.
- It is important to include healthy fats in your diet. The essential fatty acids are known to help prevent dry eyes and possibly cataracts.
- Choose to include fruits and vegetables in your diet. All colored fruits and vegetables, especially yellow and red fruits and green leafy vegetables are rich sources of vitamins and minerals.
- You should choose good sources of protein, but limit your consumption of saturated fats from red meats and dairy products that may increase your risk of macular degeneration. Lean meats, oily fish, nuts, legumes, and eggs are excellent sources of protein, which are also good sources of essential fatty acids.
Should I take a supplement?
Most experts agree that a balanced, healthy diet is sufficient and there is no need for supplements usually. However, since the recommended daily allowance is at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, most often a supplement may be required.
- The optimum dosage for various micro-nutrients for eye and vision supplements are:
- Vitamin C (250 to 500 mg)
- Vitamin E (400 IU)
- Zinc (25 to 40 mg)
- Copper (2 mg)
- Vitamin B complex that also contains 400 mcg of folic acid
- Omega-3 fatty acids (2,000 mg)
Taking eye vitamins and vision supplements are considered safe for use. However, their safety has not been established during pregnancy and lactation. It is, however, important to discuss with your eye doctor the dosage and duration of the supplements.