After the human brain, the eyes are the most complex organ within the body, and in order to maintain their perfect health and optimal functioning, you need to ply them with a regular supply of various vitamins and essential nutrients.
The eyes are constantly at risk of developing various prevalently common conditions, such as age-induced macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma amongst others.
Even though these conditions are triggered by various different factors and risk factors, experts have been that lack of nutrition and the deficiency of certain vitamins can also lead to the onset of certain eye ailments.
In this article, we have compiled a list of the 9 essential vitamins that will shield the health of your eyes and protect them against damaging conditions.
Here, take a look:
1. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is an extremely vital nutrient that aids in maintaining and protecting the vision, by shielding the cornea and maintaining its clarity. The cornea is basically the outermost covering of the eyes. Research reveals that this essential vitamin is also a basic component of rhodopsin, a protein found within the eyes that aids in allowing a person to see clearly even in low-light settings.
Experts report that even though it is extremely rare for people to have a vitamin A deficiency in the developed nations, but if an individual has this deficiency and it goes ignored for prolonged periods of time, it can trigger the development of a severe ailment, known as xerophthalmia.
Xerophthalmia is a progressive eye condition that is manifested by the earliest symptom of night blindness. If the vitamin A deficiency persists unchecked, it cause excessive dryness to develop in the eyes, primarily in the tear ducts. Gradually, with the passage of time, it will cause the cornea to become soft, and this will lead to incurable blindness.
The regular consumption of vitamin A can shield the eyes against various commonly prevalent ailments. Various studies have discovered that a diet that is rich in vitamin A is directly linked with marked reductions in the risk factors of developing age-induced macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.
Instead of taking supplements for this vitamin, experts strongly recommend the consumption of vitamin A-rich foods. You can obtain rich doses of this powerful vitamin with foods such as sweet potatoes, bell peppers, pumpkins and leafy green veggies.
2. Vitamin E
Various eye ailments tend to occur because of the damaging effects of oxidative stress, which basically occurs when there is an imbalance between the free radicals and antioxidants present within the body. Vitamin E is a mighty powerful antioxidant that aids in shielding the body cells, particularly the eye and skin cells, against the damaging attacks of the free radicals, which are potentially harmful and unstable molecules.
An observational study attempted to examine the benefits of vitamin E and various other essential nutrients in a daily supplement known as AREDS amongst 3,640 participants, over a period of seven years. The results revealed that consuming 400 IU of vitamin E and the supplement AREDS aided in reducing the progression of AMD towards advanced stages of symptoms by an impressive 25%.
Moreover, some researchers report that a daily diet that is rich in vitamin E can aid in shielding the eyes against age-induced cataracts. However, experts believe that there is need for further research to establish the validity of the association between the consumption of vitamin E and cataracts.
Nevertheless, experts still maintain that a daily diet that provides sufficient levels of vitamin E is essential and strongly advisable to maintain and shield the health of the eyes and prevent the damaging attacks of free radicals.
It is highly recommended to obtain this powerful antioxidant from natural food-based sources, such as leafy green veggies, salmon, seeds and seed oils, nuts and avocados. If you want to start taking the daily supplement AREDS, consult your doctor about dosage and suitability.
3. Vitamin C
Much like vitamin E, vitamin C is a potent and might antioxidant that aids in shielding the eyes against the damaging attacks of the free radicals present within the body. Vitamin C is used along with a combination of several essential nutrients in the popular supplement AREDS, which is incredibly beneficial for patients suffering from AMD.
A study attempted to examine the benefits of the supplement AREDS, and the results revealed a 25% reduction in the symptoms and progression of AMD amongst patients who consumed it every day.
Moreover, the body requires vitamin C to produce collagen, which is basically a protein that is responsible for giving structure to the eyes, primarily in the sclera and cornea. Various observational researches have revealed that consuming vitamin C regularly also aids in reducing the risk factors of suffering from cataracts, an eye ailment that disrupts the vision and makes the eyes excessively cloudy.
An observational study attempted to examine the eye-related benefits associated with the daily consumption of vitamin C. The results revealed a 75% reduction in the risk factors of suffering from cataracts amongst participants who consumed more than 490 mg as compared to the participants who consumed 125 mg or less.
Another study discovered that the regular intake of vitamin C supplements aids in reducing the risk factors and progression of cataracts by 45%. However, doctors recommend caution while picking out vitamin C supplements as this is a vitamin that is best consumed from fresh foods, fruits and vegetables.
You can brim up your diet with loads of vitamin C by adding more tropical and citrus fruits to your daily diet, such as bell peppers, oranges, kale, lemons, grapefruit, and broccoli amongst others.
4. Vitamins B6, B9 and B12
Health experts have examined the potential benefits of various B vitamins, and their effectiveness in shielding and boosting the health of the eyes, primarily vitamins B6, B9 and B12. This is an extremely powerful combination of vitamins that work to reduce the levels of homocysteine, a kind of protein present within the body that might be linked with inflammation, and triggers an increase in the risk factors of suffering from AMD.
A clinical research attempted to examine the potential effectiveness of vitamin B12 along with vitamins B6 and B9 in reducing the risk factors of women suffering from AMD. The results revealed that the women who consumed 1,000 mcg of these vitamins ended up reducing their risk factors of developing AMD by an impressive 34%.
However, experts believe that further research is require to establish the validity of the potential benefits associated with the consumption of these vitamins. Experts tend to advise caution and consultation while picking up a supplement for these vitamins, and researchers are still ambiguous whether increasing your consumption of foods that are rich in these B vitamins will lead to similar benefits or not.
Riboflavin is another extremely essential B vitamin that has been extensively researched to analyse its benefit for the health of the eyes. More commonly referred to as Vitamin B2, riboflavin is basically an antioxidant that is capable of reducing and preventing the progression of oxidative stress within the eyes and the overall body.
Medical researchers are analysing the potential benefits associated with riboflavin and its potential to eliminate and prevent the symptoms of cataracts. Researchers have also highlighted that a prolonged and ignored deficiency of riboflavin can also lead to the onset of cataracts. Various studies have highlighted the fact that many patients suffering from cataracts also tend to have a riboflavin deficiency.
A recent study examined the diets of participants to examine the benefits of riboflavin in reducing the progression of cataracts. The results revealed that the participants who consumed around 1.6-2.2 mg of riboflavin a day reduced their risk factors for developing cataracts by 31-51% as compared to those who consumed 0.8 mg riboflavin a day.
Health experts strongly recommend the consumption of around 1.1-1.3 mg of riboflavin each day. You don’t need to turn towards riboflavin supplements to reach this daily dosage requirement as you can simply add up lots of riboflavin-rich foods to your daily diet. For instance, milk, fortified cereals, oats, beef and yogurt are rich natural sources of riboflavin. If you don’t consume any of these foods, consult your doctor about a suitable riboflavin supplement.
Niacin, more commonly known as vitamin B3, has the principal responsibility of aiding the body in processing foods and converting them into energy. It also performs the functions of an antioxidant. Recently, various researchers have revealed that niacin plays a rather important role in shielding the eyes against the attacks of glaucoma, an eye condition that causes severe damage to the optic nerve.
A recently conducted observational research examined the nutrient intake of Korean adults, and examine their risk factors for developing glaucoma. The results revealed a direct association of between the onset of glaucoma and a low dietary consumption of niacin. Moreover, an animal-based research revealed that consuming high amounts of niacin supplements proved effective in shielding the eyes against the onset of glaucoma.
However, experts believe that is need of further research to establish a concrete association between niacin deficiency and the symptoms of glaucoma. And it is also important to consider that supplements must be taken with great care and caution, and only after consulting one’s doctor.
Research reveals that when niacin supplements are consumed in extremely high doses of around 1.5-5 grams each day, they lead to the development of certain side effects on the eyes, such as macular damage, cornea inflammation and blurry vision.
On the other hand, researchers believe that consuming large quantities of food items that contain rich concentrations of niacin does not have any side effects whatsoever. You can obtain high amounts of niacin naturally by adding more legumes, beef, fish, poultry, and mushrooms to your daily diet.
7. Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are both members of the family of carotenoid, a group of extremely beneficial and effective substances that have been synthesized by the plants. These two powerful carotenoids are naturally present within the retina and the macula of our eyes, and they aid the eyes in filtering out the blue light that is potentially damaging, hence shielding the eyes against possible harm.
Various researchers have reported that these plant-based substances aid in shielding the eyes against the symptoms of cataracts, along with preventing and reducing the progression of AMD.
Another study attempted to examine the potential benefits of consuming lutein amongst patients suffering from cataracts in a controlled, observational study. After a period of two years, the results revealed that the patients who consumed supplements with 15 mg of lutein at least thrice a week experienced marked improvements in their vision and optical health.
Experts have not yet been able to discover much about daily consumption and safe doses of lutein and zeaxanthin supplements. But most health experts and researchers recommend the consumption of around 20 mg of lutein a day for a period of 6 months to enjoy its benefits without experiencing any side effects.
However, it is also important to understand that adding these nutrients to your diet doesn’t necessarily compel you to turn towards supplements. You can gain at least 6 mg of zeaxanthin and lutein a day to enjoy all its benefits by creating a mindful and rich diet consisting of fresh fruits and colourful vegetables. You can obtain rich concentration of these powerful carotenoids from kale, collard greens and cooked spinach. Add these vegies to your daily diet instead of supplements, and you can effortlessly reduce your risk factors of suffering from cataracts and AMD.
8. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are an extremely powerful form of polyunsaturated falls, and the cell membranes of the retina are loaded with an incredibly high density of DHA, a particular kind of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids do not only aid in the formation of the eye cells, but they also potently powerful anti-inflammatory profiles that play a detrimental role in shielding the eyes against diabetic retinopathy (DR)
A recent study attempted to examine the benefits associated with the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids through oily fish by reviewing 31 different studies. The results revealed that diets that are high in fatty fish, for instance the traditional Mediterranean diet, contribute towards shielding the eyes from developing diabetic retinopathy.
Even though these results needed to be supplemented with further research and evidence, experts believe that since fatty fish packs up a rich density of omega-3 fatty acids, they are responsible for protecting the eyes.
Moreover, research reveals that the daily consumption of omega-3 fatty acids can also prove beneficial for patients suffering from the dry eye disease, by aiding them in the production of tears. People who suffer from this condition tend to experience a lack of tears, which leads to immense discomfort, dryness and occasional bouts of blurred vision.
You can add more omega-3 fatty acids to your daily diet by adding rich sources of these healthy fats, such as flaxseeds, nuts, fatty fish, chia seeds, and soy. You can also obtain omega-3s from cooking oils, such as olive oil and canola oil. They boost powerful anti-inflammatory profiles that will help you curb your risk factors for developing diabetic retinopathy and the dry eye disease.
Thiamine, more commonly known as vitamin B1, is extremely essential for maintaining healthy cell functioning, and aiding the body in the process of converting food to develop energy. Research reveals that thiamine is highly effective at eliminating the risk factors of developing cataracts.
An observational research attempted to examine the validity of these claims by observing the diets of 2900 people in Australia. The results revealed that a diet that is rich in thiamine aids in cutting down the risk factors of suffering from cataracts by an impressive 40%. The study further reveals that the daily consumption of niacin, protein, riboflavin, and vitamin A also aids in shielding the eyes against the symptoms of cataracts.
Moreover, thiamine has been highly recommended as an effective treatment to cure the early symptoms of DR. A clinical research reveals that consuming 100 mg dose of thiamine thrice a day can aid in reducing the amount of albumin present within the urine, which is basically a sign of DR amongst patients with type 2 diabetes.
You can obtain rich amounts of thiamine by adding whole grains, fish and meat to your daily diet. Moreover, thiamine is also added to certain fortified foods like, bread, pasta and breakfast cereals. Be sure to add thiamine-rich foods to your daily diet to curb your risk for cataracts, and if you want to treat DR symptoms, you can consult your doctor about taking a thiamine supplement.
Research reveals that there are various nutrients and vitamins that aid in reducing, preventing or slowing the symptoms of different kinds of eye ailments and conditions. If some of the above mentioned vitamins are missing from your daily diet, you can add them by adding various foods that containing them. If you don’t like certain foods, be sure to make up your deficiency for the vitamins they carry by consulting your doctor about suitable supplements.
However, it is important to remember that only a mindful, healthy and well-balanced diet that is rich in fresh fruits, green vegetables, protein, healthy fats and whole grains, can provide you with all vitamins and nutrients you need to protect your eyes, and strengthen your heart, mind and overall bodily health.