Proper eye care doesn’t have to be difficult. If you’re already eating all the best foods for your vision—think carrots, broccoli, and salmon—you’re on the right track. But if you find it difficult to eat a balanced diet with whole foods or 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 further care for your eyes.
The best eye and vision supplements
In addition to a balanced diet, here are six of the best vitamins and supplements for your eyes. Luckily, you can get most of these accessories for less than $10.
Vitamin A supports vision, immune system, heart, lungs and overall growth and development. In particular, vitamin A helps you see the full spectrum of light, because the vitamin produces pigments in the retina. It can also prevent dry eyes. You can find vitamin A in foods such as salmon, broccoli, fortified breakfast cereals, eggs and carrots.
You’ve probably heard of the magic of carrots. Yes, it’s true – carrots are great for the eyes. Carrots (and other brightly colored fruits and vegetables) are high 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 like sunscreen for your eyes – it helps protect against UV damage. The more you spend outside and under 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 may also reduce the risk of cataracts, a disease that causes the lens of the eye 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 are needed to truly understand the link between vitamin C and a lower risk of cataracts.
In addition to getting enough vitamin C, avoid tanning beds, and if you’re outside, wear sunglasses and a hat to protect your eyes.
Optometrists regularly recommend omega-3 to their patients – 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 in 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. Studies have found that it can also help prevent dry eye disease. These nutrients are great for both conditions because of their 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. Studies have shown that vitamin E can help protect the retina from free radicals that can cause eye diseases. However, vitamin C, another antioxidant, has more regenerative properties. 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 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 products their vibrant color. Carotenoids, also powerful antioxidants, are vital for eye health. They protect the eyes from free radicals that can cause damage. Lutein and zeaxanthin 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.
Although you can find lutein and zeaxanthin in supplement form, one bottle is more expensive. It may be better, easier and more affordable for you to eat more fruits and vegetables.
Risks of eye vitamins
Most vitamins and supplements are generally considered safe for humans because they are nutrients that your body naturally requires. However, you should always talk to your doctor before starting any supplement. Some vitamins and supplements may interact with various medications. Especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult your doctor first. Your doctor should be able to safely guide you to the best supplements and dosages.
Frequently asked questions about the best vitamins for eyes
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