We all know that we should be eating healthily and aiming to eat our five a day, but do you realise how good nutrition and eye health are closely linked? Most people have heard the old saying `eating carrots helps you see in the dark` Well there is some truth to this, carrots really do give your eyes a boost because they contain beta-carotene, which the body is able to convert into vitamin A, an essential vitamin for healthy vision. A deficiency In Vitamin A can cause Nyctalopia, the medical term for night-blindness, resulting in a longer time to adapt to light, and a higher threshold of light needed to see at all, it may also impair contrast vision.
As we age, so do our eyes and there are numerous eye conditions which may begin to affect our sight, such as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma. These conditions are progressive and if surgery is not suitable or unsuccessful, may lead to severe vision problems and blindness. There has been promising research on the use of nutrition both from food and supplementation in helping prevent and even improve some of these conditions. The antioxidant vitamins A, C and E found in many fruit, vegetables, nuts and eggs have been shown to help maintain healthy cells and tissue in the eye.
Recent research into two types of antioxidants known as `caratonoids` called Lutein and Zeaxanthin have shown that people who have a diet rich in these foods have a lower risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. Lutein and Zeaxanthin can be found naturally in vegetables and fruit. For example, Lutein can be found in yellow peppers, mango, and green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, chard and broccoli. Supplementation of the minerals zinc as zinc oxide, and copper as cupric oxide, have also been shown to slow down the progression of AMD.
If you would like advice on giving your eyes the best possible nutrition, why not book to see one of the Nutrition Mission team?
Natural News (2006) Carrots really do help you see in the dark [Online] Available from: http://www.naturalnews.com/020364.html [Accessed: 6th May 2012]
Royal National Institute for the Blind (2012) Nutrition and the Eye [Online] Available from: http://www.rnib.org.uk/eyehealth/lookingafteryoureyes/pages/nutrition.aspx [Accessed: 6th May 2012]
West, K. P. (2003) Vitamin A deficiency disorders in Women and Children, Food and Nutrition Bulletin