Our eyes are not only the most magical organ of our body but also one of the most important. We owe the ability to see and observe the beautiful world around us to our eyes. It is not very often that we return this favor by taking special care of our eyes, and we must do!
Since childhood, all of us have heard about some vitamins and minerals that will make our eyesight like that of a hawk! But, do we inculcate these nutrients in our diet? Nutrients for the eyes should be a vital component of our daily intake of food to keep the eyes healthy and the eyesight strong. If some of you have forgotten what these special nutrients for the eyes are, we got you covered! This article addresses all the amazing foods that will make a visible difference (we are sorry for the pun) in your eyesight in no time! Get your reading glasses on to know everything about them!
Nutrients for healthy eyes
Healthy eyes play a significant role in the maintenance of overall body health. Excellent eyesight adds brownie points to the five senses and protects you from getting diseases that impair eyesight. Our eyes get prone to diseases like cataract, eye lens clouding, and loss or degradation of vision with age (Macular Degeneration). Nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, zeaxanthin, zinc, Vitamin E and C, copper, beta carotene and, lutein can significantly enhance eyesight if taken regularly.
Many of the nutrients that we just mentioned are present in foods that you might always find in your pantry. This means you can get started on your journey to achieve impeccable eyesight without extra effort and hassle to go grocery shopping.
Best nutrients for eyes
1. Sources of omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) are essential nutrients for the improvement of eyesight. DHA can be found in the retina where it plays the role in the maintenance of eye function.
Inadequate intake of these nutrients can result in vision impairments in children, and improper brain and eyesight development of infants. In contrast, regular intake of omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent diseases like dry eyes by triggering the production of tear fluids in the eyes and diabetic rhinoplasty in old to middle-aged adults.
Omega-3 fatty acids can either be attained through natural food sources like microalgae and oily fish (salmon, herring, mackerel), flaxseeds, walnuts, or supplements.
2. Sources of zeaxanthin and lutein
Lutein and zeaxanthin can be found in the retina center (backside of eyes as a layer of sensitive cells), known as the macula, which is why they are also called macular pigments or yellow carotenoid antioxidants.
These nutrients are the body’s natural sunblock and inbuilt blue-light filter. Regular intake of these nutrients can lower the risk of developing macular degeneration disease, cataracts, and AMD. However, there is only limited evidence on the effect of these nutrients in reducing the early-stage symptoms of AMD.
To balance the presence of these nutrients in your diet, you should regularly consume squash, collard greens, turnips, kale, spinach, parsley, green peas, pistachios, red grapes, sweet corn, and egg yolks as they are considered to be the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin.
3. Sources of Vitamin A
It is common knowledge that a deficiency of Vitamin A in the diet can lead to grave health problems like blindness, night blindness, dry eyes, and many others. Vitamin A plays a huge role in the maintenance of photoreceptors or cells that sense light in the eyes.
To avoid the deficiency of Vitamin A, it is crucial to consume foods derived from animals like dairy (milk, buttermilk), chicken liver, egg yolks, and beef. Vegetarians and vegans can alternatively consume spinach, chards, carrots, mangoes, papayas, and kale to fulfil their requirements of Vitamin A. Many other plants and vegetables are also good sources of provitamin A carotenoids which are antioxidant plant compounds.
4. Sources of gamma-linolenic acid
Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is a form of omega-6 fatty acids that has remarkable anti-inflammatory properties and can help in reducing the symptoms of dry-eyes. GLA is present in minute quantities in the modern diet, but its intake can be balanced by consuming products like starflower and primrose oil regularly.
5. Sources of Vitamin C
Our eyes have a high requirement of antioxidants; however, the direct role of Vitamin C on the maintenance of eyesight is not yet supported by sufficient evidence.
The aqueous humor, which fills the outermost layer of the eye, is rich in Vitamin C. The Vitamin C levels inside this layer can be enhanced by regular consumption of foods and supplements that have adequate quantities of Vitamin C.
Vitamin C deficiency may also cause eye impairments like cataracts as it is remotely related to antioxidants’ low levels.
Consuming fruits and vegetables like guavas, citrus fruits, bell peppers, broccoli, and kale can help in balancing the levels of Vitamin C in the body.
6. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is used for the prevention of harmful oxidation of fatty acids inside the body. Our retina is rich in fatty acids, making Vitamin E an essential nutrient for its well-being. If the quantity of Vitamin E is not adequate in the diet, it can lead to serious health problems like blindness and degeneration of the retina.
Include almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds oil, and other sources of Vitamin E in your diet to prevent diseases caused by its deficiency and lower the risk of cataracts.
Zinc is an important nutrient present inside the eyes, necessary enzymes like superoxide dismutase, and is a building block of retinal visual pigments. Consuming healthy quantities of zinc can reduce the symptoms of macular deterioration and enhance the sharpness of the vision.
Consumption of foods like oysters, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, meat, beef, Dungeness crab, and turkey can help lower the risk of night blindness as well.
Food for thought
Other nutrients like selenium, beta-carotenoids, and flavonoids can also help to enhance the eyesight. It is always a good idea to consult a medical professional before taking any health supplements, and studies show that taking too many health supplements is not healthy!
Apart from these nutrients, you should try to limit your screen time so that your eyesight remains healthy. Include these nutrients for eyes in your diet today so that nothing can stop you from seeing the world around you in all its glory!
Also, read: Foods to keep your eyes healthy