Written by Jericho Gonzales
Medically speaking, your eyes aren’t considered vital organs. However, that doesn’t mean that your eyes aren’t essential. Your eyes are still two of your most important organs, and your eyesight is central to your daily life.
You use your eyesight every day for a variety of tasks ranging from the mundane to the urgent. You use it when you’re cooking to see if it’s one. You use it to read emails at work and type up documents.
NUTRITION: TAKING CARE OF YOUR EYES FROM THE INSIDE
There’s no question that the eyes are crucial. Your eye health is essential to your overall health, so don’t neglect it.
When it comes to eye health, though, most people think about external care and safety. People get regular eye exams, wear sunglasses outdoors, or avoid prolonged exposure to devices that emit blue light.
Following these safety practices is good, and they do play a critical role in eye health. However, they are not enough. For holistic eye health, you should also make it a point to take care of your eyes from the inside. Pay attention to the food you consume and ensure that you are getting the proper nutrition for your eyes.
Nutrition for eye health
The nutrients (or lack thereof) in the food you eat have a significant impact on your eye health. It can mean the difference between having sharp vision or developing a degenerative disorder at a young age.
If you want to maintain the health of your eyes, you need to eat food that contains specific vitamins and minerals. Doing so can help prevent ocular diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, glaucoma, and even blindness.
The best nutrients for your eyes
Not sure what vitamins and minerals you need to consume to keep your vision clear and your eyes in tip-top condition? Don’t worry. We can help you there.
For optimum eye health, you need to make sure that you are getting enough of the following nutrients:
- Vitamin C
Vitamin C is another nutrient that is important for eye health because your eyes are full of vitamin C. The aqueous humor is a liquid produced by your eyes that contains an abundance of vitamin C.
The aqueous humor uses vitamin C to transport nutrients to different parts of your eye, including the cornea and the lens. Without sufficient vitamin C, the aqueous humor won’t function properly, which will lead to issues for the other parts of your eye.
- Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a group of eight fat-soluble compounds. These compounds are potent antioxidants that help repair damaged cells, including those in your eyes. Your body can’t produce vitamin E by itself, so the only way to get it is to eat food rich in the nutrient.
Studies indicate that the consumption of vitamin E can prevent the formation of cataracts and slow the progression of AMD. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) revealed that patients who had early AMD lowered their risk of developing advanced AMD by 25% by consuming a daily supplement containing vitamin E.
- Lutein and zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are compounds known as carotenoids. They are two mighty antioxidants that prevent free radicals from damaging your eyes. They also help reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
Consumption of lutein and zeaxanthin is necessary because your retina contains high levels of these two antioxidants. They work with your retina to filter blue light, which causes damage to your eyes.
Zinc is a trace mineral that plays a pivotal role in numerous bodily functions. It transports vitamin A from your liver to your retina to produce melanin, a pigment that protects your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Zinc can also delay the onset of certain eye diseases. According to AREDS, patients can slow the progression of AMD by 25% by consuming zinc. Like vitamin E, your body is unable to produce zinc, so you need to get your zinc from food.
Eating for eye health
The best way to get the nutrients your eyes need is to eat the right foods. If you want to keep your eyes healthy, here are the best foods to eat (grouped by the vitamins that your eyes need).
Foods rich in provitamin are fruits and vegetables that include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Sweet red peppers
- Winter squash
- Vitamin C
Many citrus fruits are high in vitamin C such as:
- Pink and red grapefruits
These non-citrus fruits are also high in vitamin C:
- Chili peppers
- Vitamin E
You can get enough vitamin E by consuming nuts and seeds like:
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Flax seeds
You can also get vitamin E from:
- Lutein and zeaxanthin
The following green vegetables contain high amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin:
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
- Swiss chard
- Brussels sprouts
Good sources of zinc are legumes that include:
- Lima Beans
You can also get zinc from:
- Green peas
- Shiitake mushrooms
Get your nutrition from whole foods
As a busy person, you might feel the temptation just to take one or two supplements to get all the vitamins and minerals you need quickly and easily. While there is nothing inherently wrong with supplementation, supplements don’t contain all the nutrients that whole foods like fruits and vegetables do. Furthermore, keep in mind that the supplement industry is unregulated, which means you can never be sure of what exactly is in the supplements that you are taking.
Meanwhile, fruits and vegetables contain macronutrients that supplements can’t replicate. They contain natural fiber, which aids in digestion and helps your body better absorb nutrients. Whole foods are also full of antioxidants that repair your cells and allow your body to recover from oxidative stress.
There is simply no replacement for eating nutritious whole foods.
Proper eye health not only means taking care of your eyes from the outside but also the inside.
For better eye health, you need to eat nutritious foods that contain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, C, and E, lutein, zeaxanthin, and Zinc.
To get enough of these nutrients, avoid taking supplements. Eating whole foods such as fruits and vegetables is best. This way, you also consume macronutrients and antioxidants that you can’t get from supplements.
About the Author
Jericho Gonzales is a Content Marketing Specialist at Lens.com. Writing is his passion, and he specializes in tech-based and consumer product-based writing. His other passions lie in the worlds of fantasy and science fiction. When he isn’t busy with wordcraft, he loves to immerse himself in those worlds through novels, video games, TV shows, or movies.