As you age, taking care of your eyes doesn’t have to be difficult. If you’re already eating all the best foods for your species—think carrots, broccoli, and salmon—then you’re on the right track. But if you find it challenging to eat a balanced diet of whole foods or you need an extra boost of all the essential vitamins and nutrients, supplements may be a good strategy for you. Here are the best vitamins and supplements to add to your daily routine to take extra care of your eyes.
Best eye and vision supplements
In addition to a balanced diet, these are the six best vitamins and supplements to take for your eyes. Luckily, you can get most of these add-ons for less than $10.
Vitamin A supports vision, immune system, heart, lungs and overall growth and development. Specifically, vitamin A helps you see a full spectrum of light, because the vitamin produces pigments in the retina. It can also prevent your eyes from drying out. You can find vitamin A in foods like salmon, broccoli, fortified breakfast cereals, eggs and carrots.
You’ve probably heard about the magic of carrots. Yes, that’s right – carrots are great for your eyes. Carrots (and other brightly colored fruits and vegetables) are rich in beta carotene, which is a compound your body uses to make vitamin A. Beta carotene is also available in supplement form, although it is not as common as vitamin A and is often more expensive.
Vitamin C is kind of like sunscreen for your eyes — it helps protect them from UV damage. The more you spend outside and in the sun, the greater the risk of damage. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, too long in the sun can cause irreversible damage. Vitamin C can also reduce the risk of cataracts, a disease that causes the lens of your eyes to cloud. However, while a recent study found that vitamin C supplementation was effective in patients who were already deficient in vitamin C, more studies need to be conducted to truly understand the link between vitamin C and a lower risk of cataracts.
In addition to getting enough vitamin C, make sure you avoid tanning beds, and if you’re outside, wear sunglasses and a hat to protect your eyes.
Optometrists regularly recommend to their patients omega-3 – and if the patient does not get enough of these fatty acids in their diet – a supplement. Omega-3s are mainly found in fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel or herring and some nuts and seeds.
The American Optometric Association points to omega-3 as a nutrient that can slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration. Research has shown that it can also help prevent dry eye disease. These nutrients are great for both conditions because of its anti-inflammatory effects.
Another powerful antioxidant, vitamin E is vital to all of our cells and cellular functions. It helps protect our bodies from cancer-causing free radicals and plays an important role in vision. Research has shown that vitamin E can help protect the retina from free radicals that can cause eye diseases. However, vitamin C, another antioxidant, has more properties that aid in regeneration. Vitamin E can only help protect the cells that are already there.
Vitamin E may also slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration. The American Optometric Association recommends 400 IU per day.
Zinc is found in almost all multivitamins because it is such an essential nutrient for the body. It is used to strengthen the immune system and help the body heal quickly from wounds. Zinc also helps with eye health.
Zinc helps vitamin A make melanin (a pigment that protects the eyes) and can protect the eyes from age-related macular degeneration. The American Optometric Association recommends 40 to 80 mg per day in order to slow progression.
Lutein and zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are known to be important for our eyes. Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids and are found in red and yellow fruits and vegetables, as these compounds give the products their vibrant colors. Carotenoids, also powerful antioxidants, are vital for eye health. They protect the eyes from free radicals that can cause damage. Lutein and zeaxanthin, in particular, have been found to prevent retinal damage.
These carotenoids may also slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration. The American Optometric Association recommends a daily amount of 10 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin.
While you can find lutein and zeaxanthin in supplement form, a bottle is on the more expensive side. You may find it better, easier and more affordable just to eat more fruits and vegetables.
Risks of vitamins for the eyes
Most vitamins and supplements are generally considered safe for people to take because they are nutrients that your body naturally requires. However, you should always talk to your doctor before starting any supplements. Some vitamins and supplements can interact with various medications. Especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult a doctor first. Your doctor should be able to safely guide you to the best supplements and dosages.
Frequently Asked Questions About Best Eye Vitamins
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