Good eye health goes hand in hand with good overall health, but certain nutrients are especially important for the eyes. Studies indicate that some antioxidants may help guard against the free radical damage that can cause age-related eye concerns, and eye strain associated with frequent computer use. Eating right is also really important for pregnant moms, to help build healthy vision in little ones.
Top Five Best Foods For the Eyes
1. Fatty Fish and Seaweed
The tissues in our eyes contain high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids, particularly DHA, which is found in high concentration in the retina. Omega 3 fatty acids help strengthen cell membranes that boost eye health and protect retinal function, and some studies indicate that eating more Omega 3-rich foods may slow macular degeneration. (Ref 1).
It’s particularly important to get enough DHA during pregnancy, as this is when children’s eye health is formed. (Ref. 2) Studies have shown that children whose mothers consumed high levels of DHA during pregnancy had sharper vision at two months of age. Adding further weight, two separate studies showed that infants who consumed formula supplemented with DHA had significantly better vision at both two and four months of age compared to little ones whose formula was not supplemented. (Ref. 3)
Dark oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines are the best sources of Omega 3, so make sure you and your children enjoy a few fish meals each week. If you don’t enjoy dark oil fish, consider adding a fish oil supplement to your diet.
2. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Popeye was on to something, because dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and collards are packed with eye-loving antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein guards the eyes against damage caused by sunlight and may help reduce the risk of developing age-related eye conditions. (Ref. 4) Zeaxanthin not only sharpens central vision, it may also support eye health by absorbing blue light (which can potentially cause free radical activity) and reducing glare. Studies have shown that those who consume diets rich in zeaxanthin are less likely to develop cataracts. (Ref. 4). However, Zeaxanthin cannot be made by the body, you must get it from food, so include more leafy green vegetables, goji berries and spirulina in your diet.
This summer favorite is closely related to bilberry, an antioxidant that is believed to support night vision. According to legend, British Royal Air Force pilots bombed targets more accurately during World War II after consuming bilberry jam. Whether or not this is true, it’s worth adding more berries to your diet. A study by Tufts University showed that consuming more blueberries may help reduce your risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma. (Ref. 5)
4. Citrus Fruits
Lemons, oranges and mandarins are a rich source of rutin, a flavonoid that helps strengthen blood vessels, including those that feed the eyes. Rutin also helps inhibit an enzyme that impacts how glucose is metabolized in the eye, supporting nerve cells from damage due to excess sugar. (Ref. 6)
5. Shrimp and Tomatoes
Red and pink colored foods like shrimp and tomatoes are naturally high in astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant which has been shown in studies to support the retina and help the body resist damage caused by diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration (Ref. 7)
All eyes on eye health
A varied diet is vital for good eye health, but if you are pregnant, 40+ or use a computer frequently at work, we recommend a little extra support. Xtend-Life’s Total Balance range of supplements contains a blend of targeted eye-nourishing nutrients, including zeaxanthin to guard against free radical damage, rutin to support healthy eye pressure, lutein and astaxanthin to support eye health, and bilberry extract to maintain healthy eye function.