Vitamin C and Bioflavonoids for Healthy Eyes

The relationship between vitamin C and bioflavonoids for healthy eyes rests on Nobel prize-winning research. When Nobel Prize winner Albert Szent-Gyorgyi discovered vitamin C, he noticed that giving vitamin C alone usually was not enough to treat the then-common vitamin C deficiency disease called scurvy. Only when patients received a combination of vitamin C and vegetables or fruit did the vitamin C-deficiency disease abate.

Szent-Gyorgyi observed that vitamin C deficiency sufferers needed some kind of additional vitamin from vegetables to make the vitamin C work.

He isolated this substance from paprika, and in his research (and in nutrition in Europe today), it is known as vitamin P. In the English-speaking world, however, this vitamin is known as the bioflavonoids.

There are many ways vitamin C maintains healthy eyes Used in combination with vitamin E, vitamin C prevents the buildup of degraded proteins in the lens of the eye that can cause glaucoma.

Vitamins C and E also play a role in preventing macular degeneration, although with other naturally occurring antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin. And even if you already have glaucoma or macular degeneration, taking antioxidants may relieve some of your symptoms.

So how much vitamin C should you get every day? The RDI for healthy eyes, which is something like a "usual daily dosage" rather than an absolute daily minimum, is 60 mg a day.

Vitamin enthusiasts scoff at this dosage as too small, but the fact is, if you aren't getting any vitamin C at all, 60 mg a day will begin to correct many of your deficiency symptoms.

But good eye health requires more vitamins than just enough to correct deficiency, especially if you drink, smoke, or have diabetes.

The right dosage if you have diabetes gets a little tricky, however, because most blood glucose testing strips give you inaccurate readings if you take more than 500 mg of supplemental vitamin C a day.

Supplements, of course, are not the only way to get your C—and when you get your vitamin C from a plant food, you also get the "vitamin P" bioflavonoids that make it so very useful in protecting the membranes covering your eyes and in making the conjunctiva of your eyelids resistant to infection.

Any combination of these plant foods adding up to 250 mg a day will provide noticeable benefits to healthy eyes:

Vitamin C Rich Foods

Food Milligrams in100-gram serving Milligrams innormal-sized serving
Acerola 1670 1660 (1 cup, raw)
Pepper, red (sweet) 190 283 (1 cup, chopped)

Guava 228 176 (1 cup, raw)
Currants 181 181 (1 cup, raw)
Kale 120 80 (1 cup, chopped)
Broccoli 93 82 (1 cup, chopped)
Kiwi 93 88 (1 cup, chopped)
Pepper, green(sweet) 89 133 (1 cup, chopped
Papaya 62 62 (1 cup, raw)
Strawberries 57 86 (1 cup, halved)
Orange 53 70 (1 orange)
Cantalope 42 68 (1 cup, cubed)
Grapefruit 34 44 (half grapefruit)
Mango 28 57 (1 mango)
Raspberries 25 31 (1 cup)

Source: National Agriculture Library, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

And where do you get your bioflavonoids? Bilberry extracts are available at health food stores and drugstores everywhere, but you can also get these helpful plant compounds from red and purple fruits such as cherries, grapes, and plums, and from buckwheat.

Return From Healthy Eyes to Eye Nutrition

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