Nutrition for Healthy Eyes: An Overview

Nutrition for healthy eyes is a surprisingly complicated subject. It is not enough to know the breakdown of the individual nutrients and their roles in eye health, you also need to know how the nutrients work in harmony—or disharmony—to prevent disease and maintain vision. It is not enough to know the individual nutrients of eye nutrition to understand nutrition for healthy eyes, it's also necessary to know how to make a proper balance of vitamins and supplements.

For instance, to choose an optimal program of nutrition for eye health, it's necessary to know that:

  • Vitamins C and E protect the eyes in concert with selenium, but that taking too much vitamin C can deplete copper, and
  • 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, and
  • 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.
  • The body can make lutein out of zeaxanthin but it can't make zeaxanthin out of lutein, so foods or supplements providing zeaxanthin are essential nutrition for healthy eyes.
  • Vitamins for eyes focus on the familiar vitamins A, C, and E. These are the well-known antioxidant vitamins that protect the eyelids and sclera (whites) of the eyes from infection and protect the inner structures of the eyes from the aging effects of free radicals.

    There are also, however, supplements and vitamins that can cause eye problems. Excessive iron, copper, and nickel all appear in cataract tissue.

    Vitamin D also can raise the risk of age-related cataracts, especially if you smoke or are overweight. If you smoke, you need to take a particular form of beta-carotene.

    Certain kinds of vitamin C can make you sicker if you are taking antibiotics, while other kinds of vitamin C can help you get well.

    Vitamins, of course, are not the only important element of nutrition for maintaining good vision.

    There is a growing body of research exploring the relationship of flaxseed and dry eyes, and much of it points to the great value of n-3 essential fatty acids in controlling eye inflammation. The relatively newly discovered phytonutrients lutein and zeaxanthin help protect the eye from damage by the harsh, blue rays of the sun, and, surprisingly, your eyes can do just fine without one of these new eye nutrients but they absolutely have to have the other.

    Other little-known facts about nutrition and eye health include the interrelationships of vitamin A and beta-carotene and the usefulness of the tomato pigment lycopene in preventing macular degeneration.

    The group of known eye-healthy phytonutrients has grown beyond just beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Newer nutrients such as astaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin, and others are being confirmed as important in nutrition for healthy eyes.

    Certain eye nutrients, however, are still easier to obtain from food. The best way to take advantage of the synergies between vitamin C and the bioflavonoids for healthy eyes and vitamin E and mineral nutrition for eyes is to choose from the super-foods for eye health.

    Balancing vitamins, supplements, and nourishing foods is the best daily course for maintaining good nutrition for healthy eyes.


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