6 key nutrients to support eye health
Why is eye health so important?
We should all take the best possible care of our eyes. Losing your vision can be a scary process, and something which most people fear. So, this week, I am going to take a look at products which may help care for your eyes and protect your vision.
A while ago now, I was visited by a lady who was suffering from recurrent eye infections and as a result had been put onto steroid eye drops – which her optician had now told her could damage her eyes and cause future problems with her vision. Because of this terrifying news, she had come in to see if I could suggest anything which would strengthen and support her vision.
What are the key nutrients to look out for?
There are, happily, several nutrients and other supplements which have been noted as being beneficial to eye health. Often it is possible to find some, or all, of them in eye complex supplements. The key ingredients to look out for include: lutein, bilberry, mixed carotenoids, zinc, alpha lipoic acid and rutin.
• Lutein, which is found in green leafy vegetables, is widely accepted these days as being vital to eye health. It is said to protect against eye strain, failing vision and macular degeneration. Many opticians now recommend that people deemed to be at risk of developing macular degeneration take Lutein. Look for at least 10mg of Lutein – as this amount is suggested as the best daily intake.
• Bilberry is good for improving night vision and research has shown that it could be helpful for people suffering with degeneration of their vision. It is said to help strengthen the capillaries serving the eye, improving circulation and protecting the eye from damage.
• Carotenoids are the colourful pigments found in vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, peppers and tomatoes. They are important antioxidants, which means that they protect cells against damage, so could also be helpful in protecting against the development of issues such as cataracts.
• Zinc is a mineral which is known to be important in improving and supporting good vision. Low levels of zinc have always been associated with poor vision, so when looking at the eyes making sure there are good zinc levels is very important.
• Alpha lipoic acid is a nutrient which we have only really been using for the last few years, even though it is thought to be the first vitamin ever discovered! It is helpful for people suffering with neuropathy (tingling and numbness in the fingers and toes). It has also been said to help promote healthy blood sugar levels, potentially protecting diabetics from the development of diabetic eye disorders.
• Finally, Rutin should be included because it is thought to help strengthen the blood vessels behind and around the eye. It has also been suggested that this in turn could protect against the development, or deterioration, of eye disorders.
The research behind each of these ingredients suggests that using some, or all, of them daily should offer the kind of insurance policy many of us are looking for: something which could protect against ever-stronger prescriptions, or even something which could prevent an existing eye condition from deteriorating as quickly as it may otherwise have done.
I know, from my own work in clinics, that many people I have put onto a combination of these ingredients have been very happy with the fact that their vision has not changed in years – when it was expected to get significantly worse!
These ingredients may become more and more important in the future, as we begin to discover the potential damage done to our eyes by exposure to blue light from mobile phone screens.
Written by Jenny Logan DNMed (Jenny is a nutritional therapist who has worked with clients in health food stores and private clinics for over 20 years).