When most people think about nutrition, they are thinking about their general well-being, but do you consider nutrition for eyes? Because vision is something most of us take for granted, we do not often even consider how our diets impact our eyes. Nevertheless, what you eat has an effect on your eyesight, and it is important to make sure your diet contains the right nutrition to keep your eyes healthy.
Antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals are vital to eye health, but these can be found in food, and do not necessarily require you to take supplements. A good rule of thumb is to pick the most vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables you can find, and eat fish at least twice a week. Some key nutrients for maintaining eye health are:
- Antioxidants can help prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, and other eye diseases.They also help prevent many other diseases including heart disease, immune disorders, and cancer. Antioxidants include Vitamins C, E, and A, and can be found in a variety of foods:
- Vitamin C is an amazing nutrient. It strengthens the immune system as well as bones and muscles, improves dental health, and reduces the risk of AMD and cataracts. It can be found not only in citrus fruit, but also in green peppers, strawberries, broccoli, papaya and sweet potatoes.
- Vitamin E is another vitamin that packs a punch. It helps prevent not only cataracts, but also coronary disease, cancer, and even Alzheimer’s disease. Sources of vitamin E include nuts, green leafy vegetables, and fortified foods such as cereal.
- Vitamin A prevents against night blindness and dry eyes. It is found in many foods from animals, including liver, eggs, and milk, and in fruits and vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, mango and spinach.
- Vitamin D may reduce the risk of macular degeneration. The best source of vitamin D is sunlight, but it can also be found in salmon, sardines, mackerel, and milk.
- Beta-carotene protects against night blindness and dry eyes. It is found in carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale and butternut squash.
- Minerals, like Selenium and Zinc help the oxidation process. This is important, because it allows the body to better absorb antioxidants. Selenium is found in seafood, walnuts, enriched breads and rice, and macaroni and cheese, while Zinc is in cheese, yogurt, red meat, and pork.
- Omega -3 fatty acids guard against macular damage and alleviate dry eye symptoms. Cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel and herring are excellent sources of Omega-3s, as are flaxseed oil and walnuts.
Maintaining healthy eyes is important to your overall wellbeing. Fortunately, it is not hard to fill your diet with foods rich in nutrients that help prevent disease and alleviate problems in your eyes. In fact, the same nutrients that keep your eyes healthy are often the ones that best contribute to your total body health.