Monday, July 25, 2011

Nutrition for Healthy Eyes

Research suggests that antioxidants and other important nutrients may reduce your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

Specific antioxidants can have additional benefits as well; for example, vitamin A protects against blindness, and vitamin C may play a role in preventing or alleviating glaucoma.

Omega-3 essential fatty acids appear to help the eye in a variety of ways, from alleviating symptoms of dry eye syndrome to guarding against macular damage.
Eye Benefits of Vitamins and Micronutrients

The following vitamins, minerals and other nutrients have been shown to be essential for good vision and may protect your eyes from sight-robbing conditions and diseases.

Incorporating the following foods in your diet will help you get the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of these important eye nutrients. Established by the Institute of Medicine (National Academy of Sciences), the RDA is the average daily dietary intake level of a nutrient sufficient to meet the requirements of nearly all healthy individuals in a specific life stage and gender group.

While the RDA is a useful reference, some eye care practitioners recommend higher daily intakes of certain nutrients for people at risk for eye problems. In the following list, mg = milligram; mcg = microgram (1/1000 of a mg) and IU = International Unit.


* Eye benefits of beta-carotene: May protect against night blindness and dry eyes.

* Food sources: Carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, butternut squash.

* RDA: None (Most supplements contain 5,000 to 25,000 IU).

Bioflavonoids (Flavonoids)

* Eye benefits of bioflavonoids: May protect against cataracts and macular degeneration.

* Food sources: tea, red wine, citrus fruits, bilberries, blueberries, cherries, legumes, soy products.

* RDA: None.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

* Eye benefits of lutein and zeaxanthin: May prevent cataracts and macular degeneration.

* Food sources: Spinach, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, squash.

* RDA: None.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

* Eye benefits of omega-3 fatty acids: May help prevent macular degeneration (AMD) and dry eyes.

* Food sources: Cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring; flaxseed oil and fish oil; ground flaxseeds and walnuts.

* RDA: None. (For cardiovascular benefits, the American Heart Association recommends approximately 1,000 mg daily.)


* Eye benefits of selenium: When combined with carotenoids and vitamins C and E, may reduce risk of advanced AMD.

* Food sources: Seafood (shrimp, crab, salmon, halibut); Brazil nuts; enriched noodles; brown rice.

* RDA: 55 mcg for teens and adults (60 mcg for women during pregnancy and 70 mcg when breast-feeding).

Vitamin A

* Eye benefits of vitamin A: May protect against night blindness and dry eyes.

* Food sources: Beef or chicken liver, cod liver oil, eggs, butter, milk.

* RDA: 3,000 IU for men; 2,333 IU for women (2,567 IU during pregnancy and 4,333 IU when breast-feeding).

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