Essential Nutrients Our Eyes Need Pt. Two

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Here I would like to discuss more about the 2 types of nutrients that I feel is very difficult to pronounce. They are lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein with its isomer zeaxanthin is known to many as the eye-protective nutrient. They are xanthophylis, and are the only carotenoids found in the human body that are highly concentrated in the retina and macula which is responsible for central vision and high visual acuity.

Lutein functions in two important ways to protect the eyes. It acts as an antioxidant and filter harmful high energy blue wavelengths of visible light from sunlight and indoor light to protect the eyes from free radical damage which may damage retinal cells.

Lutein supplementation results in increased lutein levels in the eye and even improved visual function in patients suffering from certain eye disease such as AMD and cataracts. Beyond reducing the risk of developing eye disease, separate studies have shown that 10mg of lutein per day improves visual performance in AMD patients and cataract patients.

Consuming a diet high in carotenoids, particularly dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale was associated with a 43% lower risk of AMD. Many of the studies that show a health benefit for lutein supplementation used doses of 10mg a day or more. It is also recommended to consume 2mg of zeaxanthin daily.

Our body does not synthesize these two essential nutrients therefore we need to obtain sufficient amounts from food that we eat and from supplements that we take. Sources of lutein from food are dark green vegetables, corn, papaya and green beans.
Essential Fatty Acids

DHA and EPA are important to eye health as DHA is found in the highest concentration in the retina and EPA is used in DHA bio-synthesis. Consuming foods high in essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 can relieve symptoms of dry eyes especially if we are contact lens wearer. In a study among contact lens wearer, consuming Evening Primrose oil (an omega-6) significantly improves dry eyes symptoms and overall lens comfort.

Sources of Omega-6 are pumpkin seeds, safflower oil and flax seed. Furthermore consuming foods rich in Omega-3 found in high concentrations in fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel can slow the progression of advanced AMD. Consuming DHA and EPA have a protective effect on the eyes that experts recommend at least 500mg of DHA and EPA a day.

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