Best Nutrients for Eye Health

Best Nutrients for Eye Health

 

Our eyes are our windows to the world. They allow us to view our environment, connect with our surroundings, keep us safe, and help us stay mentally sharp and alert. So much of our lives, our work, and our happiness depends on the health of these two sensory organs. Unfortunately, like most of our organs and body parts, we don't tend to appreciate the value of our eyes and the gift of good vision until we start experiencing problems.

 

Preventative medicine is always the best approach to wellness, striving to adopt healthy dietary and lifestyle practices that protect and preserve our health well into old age. Neglecting our health and nutritional needs will only accelerate our aging and lead to illness and disease.

 

This is the case for our whole body, as well as for the important parts of our body, including our eyes. The foods you eat (or don't eat) can significantly impact the health and functioning of your eyes. In this article, we will explore the best foods for eye health and what foods and substances to avoid to preserve your eye health.

 

The Importance of Nutrition

Importance of Nutrition

 

Unfortunately, basic nutritional education is lacking in our schools today. Even many health professionals receive only a small amount of training in nutrition. As a result, many of us are unaware of our body's nutritional needs and what nutrients do for our health. Consequently, most people today are not getting the nutrients they need, and their health is suffering.

 

Nutrition is a complex subject that we will not be exploring in detail in this article, but fundamentally, it is essential to understand that there are nutrients that the body needs each day to function at its best. If we don't get these nutrients, especially if they are regularly lacking in our diet, our health is bound to decline. On the other hand, giving your body the nutrients it needs each day can optimize your health and allow you to live a longer, healthier, and happier life.

 

If you start paying attention to your nutritional requirements and aim to get all these nutrients in your diet each day, you will likely realize just how many nutrients you have not been getting enough of, and how many nutrients people are missing in their diets every day, for months or even years at a time. It is no wonder we experience so many health issues when we are not giving our bodies what they need, especially when we feed them processed foods or other unhealthy food products instead.

 

If you are not taking care of your nutrition, then discussing the best food for eye health is meaningless. When you have the solid foundation of a nutrient-dense diet, you can focus more specifically on specific foods and nutrients that benefit eye health. This is the most holistic and practical approach to supporting eye health.

 

While there is a lot of controversy around what the best diet is or the ethics of diet, there is little debate about the nutrients we need to thrive. Wherever you get these nutrients from—plant foods, animal foods, or supplements—the fact remains that the body has nutritional requirements.

 

 

The basic nutrients that the body needs to function are:

 

  • Protein (amino acids)
  • Fat (essential fatty acids)
  • Carbohydrates
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals

 

Protein, fat, and carbohydrates are considered "macronutrients" as we need them in greater quantity, while vitamins and minerals are considered "micronutrients."

 

 

Among the vitamins, there are:

 

  • Vitamin A
  • B Vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12)
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

 

Among the minerals, there are both "macrominerals" and "microminerals" or "trace minerals." Macrominerals are needed in greater quantities than trace minerals.

 

 

Macrominerals include:

 

  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Chloride
  • Sulfur

 

 

The trace minerals needed by the body include:

 

  • Chromium
  • Cobalt
  • Copper
  • Fluorine
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Molybdenum
  • Selenium
  • Zinc

 

These are all the essential nutrients that the body needs. (1) There are also many other compounds that benefit health but are not considered essential nutrients, like antioxidants or probiotics, for example. While some of these nutrients are needed in more significant quantities than others, they are all essential for the normal and healthy functioning of the body. How much of these nutrients we need depends on factors like height, weight, age, biological sex, and activity level.

 

You can get the majority of these nutrients from eating a diverse whole-food diet, including plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and organic animal foods like meat, eggs, fish, and dairy. However, certain nutrients can be more difficult to obtain in the diet, especially with the degradation of soil health caused by industrial agriculture practices. This is where quality supplements can be very beneficial, helping fill any nutritional gaps.

 

 

The nutrients that people are most often deficient in include:

 

 

To know what nutrients you are getting or may be lacking, you need to take a closer look at your diet and the foods you eat regularly and research their nutritional value, as well as how much of these nutrients you should be consuming for your body (weight, height, age, sex, etc.). It may take a bit of work up front, but once you've understood your foods and can meet your basic nutrient needs, you can easily know how to feed your body properly.

 

Of course, equally important to what you eat is how you eat. Aim to eat in a way that these nutrients are digested and absorbed from your food. This can be done by:

 

  • Chewing food thoroughly
  • Eating mindfully (not rushed or distracted)
  • Not overeating
  • Giving a few hours between each meal so the previous meal can fully digest
  • Aiming to eat at similar times each day

 

Ensuring that you are getting the nutrients your body needs, and are eating them in a way that the body can digest, absorb and utilize these nutrients, is the best way to take care of your health overall, including your eye health. In addition, of course, proper rest, adequate hydration, regular exercise, and low stress levels are also foundational.

 

Nutrition for Eye Health

nutrition for eye health

 

Now that we've discussed the important basics of nutrition, let's explore the nutrients and compounds that are specifically beneficial for eye health:

 

Lutein

 

Lutein is a type of organic pigment called a carotenoid. It is related to beta-carotene and vitamin A and has powerful antioxidant properties. It is one of the best nutrients for eye health, as numerous studies have shown that lutein can help reduce inflammation in the eyes, protect the eyes from free radicals, reduce oxidative stress and enhance the sharpness of vision. (2)

 

Lutein can be found in many foods and herbs, including:

 

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Corn
  • Bell peppers
  • Pistachios
  • Parsley
  • Eggs
  • Dandelion greens

 

Zeaxanthin

 

Zeaxanthin is another carotenoid with benefits for the eyes. Studies on zeaxanthin suggest that it functions as a light filter, helping to protect the eyes from UV damage. (3) Zeaxanthin is found in similar foods as lutein:

 

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Eggs
  • Dandelion greens
  • Broccoli
  • Peas

 

Astaxanthin

 

Astaxanthin is a compound known as a xanthophyll carotenoid and has also been studied extensively for its benefits to eye health. Astaxanthin may help to reduce ocular pressure, lower oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, and increase circulation to the eye (4). Astaxanthin is found only in marine organisms with a reddish-pink pigment, such as:

 

  • Shrimp
  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Crayfish

 

It is also found in red algae and is commonly extracted from red algae as a supplement.

 

Vitamin A

 

Vitamin A is an essential nutrient well-known for its benefits to eye health. Studies on vitamin A have found that it protects the eye's cornea, or outer surface, and maintains the retina's function. (5) Vitamin A is especially important for scotopic (low-light) and color vision. Vitamin A is found in many foods, including:

 

  • Leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, broccoli),
  • Orange and yellow vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and squash)
  • Tomatoes
  • Red bell pepper
  • Cantaloupe
  • Mango
  • Beef
  • Beef liver
  • Fish oil
  • Milk
  • Eggs

 

Zinc

 

Zinc is another essential nutrient that has many benefits for eye health. Zinc maintains the health of the eye's retina, cell membranes, and protein structure. It also allows vitamin A to travel from the liver to the retina to produce melanin, a pigment that protects the eyes from UV light. (6) Zinc can be found in:

 

  • Oysters
  • Lobster
  • Red meat
  • Poultry
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Chickpeas
  • Squash
  • Lentils

 

Additional Nutrients for Eye Health

Eye health nutrients

 

Some additional nutrients that have been shown to benefit eye health include:

 

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Omega 3
  • Copper
  • Vitamin B1

 

Zuma Nutrition's Eye Support Tonic

 

Certain herbal extracts may also be beneficial for eye health. Our Eye Support Tonic contains a synergistic blend of organic ingredients designed to support vision and overall eye health.† This formula contains various carotenoids and organic compounds that may neutralize oxidative stress, protect the eyes from damage from UVA rays, and support the membrane of the eye.

 

Summary

 

The health of our eyes and vision plays a major role in our quality of life. Unfortunately, eye health tends to decline with age—especially if we are not feeding our bodies the nutrients they need to stay healthy.

 

The good news is we can protect and preserve our eye health by giving our body the nutrients it needs and by focusing more specifically on nutrients that have been shown to improve eye health, such as:

 

  • Lutein
  • Zeaxanthin
  • Astaxanthin
  • Vitamin A
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Copper
  • Omega 3
  • Vitamin B1

 

We can get many of these nutrients from eating a diverse whole-foods diet. Whatever nutrients we are not getting in our diet, we can turn to supplements to help us ensure we are meeting our nutritional needs.

 

Good eye health is a byproduct of good health overall. When we take good care of our bodies, our bodies can take good care of us. So make sure you eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, sleep well, and keep your stress levels low. This will protect not only your eyes but all your organs and body systems.

 

If you are concerned about eye health, consult your doctor for professional health advice.

 

 

References 

 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32119432/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6164534/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6770730/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3917265/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9339908/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11349933/

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