Nutrition for Your Eyes

The human eye is a conscious sense organ designed to react to light in particular ways. Each reaction has a different purpose and is carried out via a complicated network of muscles and nerves. Since the anatomy of the human eye includes more than just muscle, there is a greater need for a variety of vitamins and minerals. Keeping one’s eyes well fortified, protected, and healthy means lower probability of disease.

It is important to keep one’s eyes healthy, as there are negative changes that occur to the eyeball simply due to aging. A disease free eye in the socket of an elderly person will have a reduced pupil size and a gradual loss of ability to focus. Since there is less light entering the retina and the pupil is unable to dilate enough to capture light, the elderly often require more light for detailed activities than younger people. Of course, diseases of the eye such as macular degeneration and cataracts are also common among the elderly but are often linked to family history, chronic hypertension, underlying diseases or general ill health. Let’s take a look at some of the key minerals that benefit eye health.

Omega-3-6-9 fish oils are fabulous as a natural way to lower bad cholesterol, as well thinning the blood and helping the arteries keep clear. Since chronic obesity, high cholesterol and hypertension are all listed as causes for macular degeneration, the Omega trio is definitely an important mineral to take on a daily basis. Eat lots of cold water fish, flaxseeds and walnuts as they contain the Omegas.

Vitamin A is another great substance for the eyes. Like beta-carotene, it helps guard us from night blindness and dry eyes. Consuming beef, eggs, butter and milk are great natural ways to get vitamin A into the body. Combined with Zinc, vitamin A helps reduce the risk of advanced macular degeneration. Vitamin C has also been shown to reduce the risk of non-genetic related cataracts and macular degeneration. Vitamin D is tricky one though. It plays a role in reducing the risk of macular degeneration, but can also cause skin cancer if not consumed in the appropriate ways. When we are out in the sun the ultraviolet radiation stimulates the production of vitamin D in our skin, but the radiation is harmful. So it would be prudent for people to rely on supplements or food sources of vitamin D rather than the sun. Foods with vitamin D in them are salmon, sardines, dairy milk, orange juice that has been fortified.

Diets high in fat have been shown to contribute to many common health problems such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes and so on. But what most people are unaware of is the increased risk of macular degeneration in those who consume a lot of fatty foods. Those who eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, fish and poultry that contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals have been shown to have a less frequent incidence of eye diseases. In terms of fruits and vegetables, colour is the key. If there is a wider a selection of colours being consumed, a broader range of nutrients and antioxidants are going into the body and protecting against disease.

Two other factors to consider when thinking of eye health are water and salt. Water is good for the body in a multitude of ways, but for the eyes it helps prevent the discomfort of dry eyes. Also, if you are eating a healthy diet but choose to have your beloved coffee or tea, then you will need to consume enough water to replace the inherent dehydration that occurs as a result of caffinated beverages. We have all known salt isn’t really a healthy element of our diet for a long time. It clogs up the arteries and dehydrates the body etc. Sodium can also increase the risk of cataracts and raise blood pressure, which of course is a nasty invitation to glaucoma.

According to the Blue Mountain Eye Study there is a combination of vitamins and minerals that if consumed daily, appear to assist in eye health. The regime includes: vitamin B, folic acid, vitamin B12, Omega 3-6-9, copper, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene. Even if you think your diet includes adequate amounts of these minerals, the researchers of the study recommended supplements as listed above. Keep your eyes in their best condition for a long life, through protection and nutrition.

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