Eye Nutrition: A Proper Balance of Vitamins and Supplements

The importance of vitamins A, C, and E in eye nutrition is a well-known fact. But how many of us know about the importance of vitamin P in nutrition for healthy eyes?

The Hungarian chemist and Nobel Prize winner Albert Szent-Györgyi de Nagyrápolt is famous as the discoverer of vitamin C.

Before the identification of L-ascorbic acid as this vitamin, medical scientists did not really know how to explain how limes, lemons, and oranges treated the dreaded disease scurvy.

Scurvy caused a number of truly dreadful symptoms. There would be red spots on the skin, and then bleeding from the nose. The gums would become spongy, and the red spots would multiply on the thighs and legs.

Teeth could fall out, and then there would be oozing wounds in the skin, depression, immobility, and death. And this failure of nutrition for eyes also caused to construct inflammatory conjunctivitis, a condition a lot like pinkeye, only without the infection.

Szent-Györgyi showed that vitamin C was essential to treating all these symptoms. Vitamin C was the compound in fruits and vegetables that cured scurvy.

Vitamin C, however, was not enough by itself to cure scurvy. His patients only recovered when they got both vitamin C and additional plant foods in their diets. The search for some kind of co-factor that sent this brilliant scientist back to the lab.

Szent-Györgyi found this second healing substance in the same food in which he found vitamin C, paprika. He called the second essential anti-scurvy nutrient vitamin P.

This term is still in use in the European literature of nutrition, but in the English-speaking world we know vitamin P as the bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids from food or supplements are essential for the proper action of vitamin C.

The brilliang Hungarian scientist's discovery is a good example of the need for a balance between vitamins and other supplements and foods for healthy eyes.

Here are just a few more examples of nutrition and eye health:

  • The antioxidant power of vitamin C is recharged by vitamin E obtained from food or supplements. Both vitamins are essential vitamins for eyes.
  • Vitamins C and E act in concert with selenium. All three nutrients are important in cataract and nutrition.
  • The body can make vitamin A out of beta-carotene, but it cannot make beta-carotene out of vitamin A. Beta-carotene from food or supplements is essential to complement the power of vitamin A and eye nutrition
  • Beta-carotene by itself, however, is potentially carcinogenic in the lung tissues of smokers. Beta-carotene performs its antioxidant role best when it is accompanied by alpha-carotene and gamma-carotene, available from yellow and orange fruits and vegetables or by taking mixed carotenoid supplements.
  • There is a similar relationship between lutein and zeaxanthin. The body can make lutein out of zeaxanthin but it cannot make zeaxanthin out of lutein. Both nutrients are essential to eye nutrition. Taking eye supplements providing just lutein for vision is not enough.
  • There are supplements and vitamins that cause eye problems. Excessive consumption of vitamin C can deplete copper, requiring copper supplementation.
  • Copper supplementation, however, requires adequate supplies of zinc, and excessive supplementation with zinc likewise depletes copper.
  • Alpha-lipoic acid depletes the B vitamin biotin, and 1 mg of biotin should be taken with every 100 mg of alpha-lipoic acid. (Some alpha-lipoic acid supplements contain biotin).
  • There is a well-known beneficial relationship between flaxseed and dry eyes, although the better-known n-3 essential fatty acids are not enough for eye health. Omega-3 essential fatty acids work in concert with omega-6 essential fatty acids, although it is relatively rare for omega-6 essential fatty acids to be deficient.
  • Calcium supplements block the absorption of other minerals, although calcium from dairy products does not have this effect.
  • Supplemental fiber or fiber in fruits and vegetables blocks the absorption of calcium.
  • And calcium only benefits tissues when there is an adequate supply of the vitamin found in lettuce and leafy greens, vitamin K.
  • Good eye nutrition requires balanced supplementation. Always make sure your supplements provide all the cofactors required for the nutrients you take to maintain healthy eyes.

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