Vitamins that help eyes can be found in the same fruits, vegetables and proteins you may already reach for when following an overall healthy diet. Supplements are important when you don’t get the proper nutrients through food, but here’s a rundown of some delicious meals and snacks with vitamins that help eyes and other parts of your body.
Think A+Z (Antioxidants + Zinc)
The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) by the The National Eye Institute (NEI) studied the effects of nutrition on vision and found a combination of high levels of antioxidants (vitamins E, A and C) plus the mineral zinc reduced a patient’s risk of developing advanced macular degeneration and cataracts. Some research shows vitamin A may also protect against night blindness not caused by cataracts and dry eyes. What foods are rich in these antioxidants? Eggs, milk and dairy along with beef and chicken liver all contain vitamin A. Boost your levels of vitamin C is by eating citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit, tangerines), cantaloupe and berries (especially strawberries, blueberries and raspberries). Veggies can also pack vitamin C. Try adding peppers, broccoli and kale to your meals. Grab two handfuls of almonds and enjoy noshing on your daily dose of vitamin E. Hazelnuts and sunflower seeds are also good vitamin E snacks. Add zinc to this equation by choosing beef, pork or shellfish for protein and a handful of peanuts for a snack.
Now, let’s move on to the B’s: betacarotene and bioflavonoids. These nutrients are easy to ingest if you remember to add some orange and yellow to your plate: carrots, sweet potatoes and butternut squash. Here’s a tip to remember: CAR-rots are rich in beta-CAR-otene!
If green is more your shade, kale, and spinach contain betacarotene which has been shown (along with vitamins E and C plus zinc) to slow the progression of macular degeneration. The same is true for bioflavonoids. You’ll already get enough of these if you eat citrus and blueberries. Also try adding some tea, soy and cherries to boost your intake.
Drinking milk and adding some dairy to your diet will not only up your vitamin A levels, it will also up your intake of vitamin D. It’s another vitamin which may reduce the risk of macular degeneration. In addition to dairy products, you can add vitamin D to your diet with salmon and fortified orange juice.
This nutrient may also help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration and is plentiful in squash as well as leafy green vegetables like romaine lettuce, spinach, turnip, collard greens, and kale. Egg yolks are also a good source of lutein (along with zeaxanthin and zinc to aid eye health), so an easy way to add these vitamins that help eyes is to whip up a spinach omelet (eggs, spinach, and even some cheese filled with vitamin D) or a salad with romaine lettuce or spinach, hard-boiled egg, cheese, and some berries or citrus.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Adding walnuts, flaxseed oil, tuna or salmon to your salad will crown it with omega-3 fatty acids which can help prevent dry eye and macular degeneration. Fish oil supplements are also a good source and the American Academy of Ophthalmology says this may help with dry eyes.
Speaking of seafood, a meal of shrimp or salmon over brown rice will serve up a double dose of selenium, which may reduce the risk of macular degeneration when combined with vitamins C and E. If you’re not a seafood lover, snack on nuts to get your daily intake.
For questions or comments, contact Woodhams Eye Clinic.
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