The eyes can also be cared for through a diet rich in essential nutrients, capable of reducing the risk of diseases such as cataracts or tiller degeneration.
The eyes need a set of vitamins and other nutrients so that they generate good vision and are protected against the development of diseases. In addition, some antioxidant compounds found in vegetables especially benefit them. These nutrients can prevent diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts.
1. VITAMIN A
Vitamin A plays a crucial role in vision by contributing to the good condition of the cornea, the outer layer of the eye. It is also a component of rhodopsin, a substance that favors mink in low light (in fact, vitamin A deficiency causes night blindness).
Vitamin A in the form of retinol is found in foods of animal origin such as eggs or dairy products, but it can also be obtained through the transformation in the body of beta – carotene from yellow, orange and green vegetables such as sweet potato, carrots, apricots or spinach.
2. VITAMIN E
Many eye conditions develop from oxidative stress, which occurs when antioxidants fail to counteract the action of free radicals.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect your cells, including those in your eyes, from free radical damage. Some studies suggest that diets rich in vitamin E can help prevent age-related cataracts.
Foods especially rich in vitamin E are walnuts, sunflower seeds, and avocado.
3. VITAMIN C
Like vitamin E, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects the eyes against harmful free radicals. It also prevents cataracts and protects the cornea and sclera by promoting collagen formation.
Citrus and tropical fruits, red bell peppers, broccoli, and kale contain particularly high amounts of vitamin C.
4. VITAMINS OF GROUP B
Vitamins B6, B9 and B12
Researchers have also studied various B vitamins for their impact on eye health, particularly vitamins B6, B9, and B12.
This combination of vitamins can lower levels of homocysteine, a protein that is associated with inflammation and an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.
A clinical study in women showed a 34% reduction in the risk of developing macular degeneration when taking 1 mg of vitamin B12 along with vitamins B6 and B9.
Most of the B vitamins are found mainly in legumes, whole grains, fruits and seeds. Vitamin B12 is found in its active form only in animal products, so vegetarians need to get it through supplementation.
Another B vitamin studied in relation to eye health is riboflavin or vitamin B2. Specifically, the ability of this nutrient to prevent cataracts has been studied.
One study found a 31% to 51% decrease in the risk of developing cataracts when the diet provides 1.6-2.2 mg of riboflavin per day. In general, it is easy to reach this amount by including oat milk, milk, mushrooms, spinach, and almonds in the daily diet.
Niacin or vitamin B3’s main function is to help convert food into energy, but some studies add that it may play a role in preventing glaucoma, a condition in which the optic nerve is damaged.
It is advisable to get this nutrient only through food in the recommended daily doses since supplementation with higher doses can cause negative side effects in the eyes themselves.
Foods rich in vitamin B3 are mushrooms, peanuts and legumes.
Thiamine or vitamin B1 plays an important role in the conversion of nutrients provided by food into energy and in other aspects of cell function.
A study conducted in Australia indicates that a diet rich in thiamine reduces the risk of developing cataracts by 40%.
Although meat and fish are the richest foods in thiamine, it is also found in abundance in whole grains, brewer’s yeast, sunflower seeds, nuts, and legumes.
5. LUTEIN AND ZEAXANTHIN
Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoid pigments that only plants produce and that when ingested go to the macula (a small area of the retina important for color vision) and the retina of the eyes, where they develop an action protective.
Several studies suggest that these plant compounds can prevent cataracts and prevent or delay the progression of macular degeneration.
One study found that taking 15 mg of lutein, three times a week, can improve vision affected by cataracts. However, supplements may not be necessary. As little as 6 mg of lutein and zeaxanthin can produce benefits, and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables naturally provides this amount. Cooked spinach, kale, and collard greens are particularly rich in these carotenoids.
6. OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
The cell membranes of the retina contain a high concentration of DHA, one of the fatty acids of the omega-3 family, which also have anti-inflammatory properties that may play a role in the prevention of diabetic retinopathy.
Omega-3 fats can also benefit people with dry eye, which causes occasional blurred vision, by helping them produce more tears.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in oily fish. The precursor essential oil, alpha-linolenic acid, is found in plant foods, which the body can convert into DHA and EPA acids. Foods rich in alpha-linolenic acid are flax and chia seeds and walnuts.