By Lyndi Wieand, RDN, LDN
March is Save Your Vision Month! Just like the rest of our bodies, our eyes need nutrients too. Adding foods rich in certain nutrients can help preserve your vision and prevent some eye diseases. The best way to get all the vitamins needed to protect your eyes is through eating whole foods including lots of fruits and vegetables.
One of the most important nutrients to eye health, it maintains the clear cornea which covers and protects the outside of the eyes. Good sources of vitamin A are found in animal-sourced foods such as fish and liver. Oily fish including salmon, mackerel, and tuna are great sources of omega-3 healthy fats with vitamin A to boost your vision. There are also many plant-based sources of vitamin A, such as orange and yellow-colored veggies, including carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash, and bell peppers. These vegetables taste great roasted and served with dinner!
Help yourself “C” better by incorporating some vitamin C into your diet. Vitamin C sources include citrus fruits such as kiwi, oranges, lemons, and grapefruit. Vegetables are another great way to boost your vitamin C intake from options such as kale, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. These leafy greens also contain Vitamins A and K. Scientific evidence shows that vitamin C consumption can lower the risk of developing cataracts and slow vision acuity loss. One way to increase vitamin C intake is to give your water a flavor kick by adding citrus fruits such as lemon or orange.
Vitamin E functions to neutralize oxidation from free radicals. This means that vitamin E protects our eyes from macular degeneration progression and the development of cataracts. There are several foods in which Vitamin E can be found including peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, pepitas, broccoli, spinach, dried apricots, and some fortified breakfast cereals.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin are the only two carotenoids that are found in the retina and lens of the human eye. Lutein is a type of vitamin carotenoid related to beta-carotene and vitamin A. Zeaxanthin is commonly found in foods with lutein, which is a vitamin that is drawn to the eyes once it enters the body. Zeaxanthin creates a yellow-colored pigment which creates a shield to protect the eyes from light sources such as the sun. Beta-Carotene is synthesized to form the active form of Vitamin A, which plays a crucial role in maintaining a clear cornea.
You can find these nutrients in red, orange, and green fruits and vegetables including apricots, cantaloupe, oranges, watermelon, broccoli, carrots, cooked tomatoes, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, and winter squash!
Eating adequate amounts of these vitamins throughout the day and pairing them together at meals gives our bodies the tools it needs to protect our eyes and stay healthy. Remember to give your eyes the nutrition they need, and they will thank you later!
About the Author
Lyndi Wieand, RDN, LDN is the Lehigh Valley area In-Store Dietitian at Weis Markets, a family-owned and -operated supermarket chain with 200 stores in the mid-Atlantic region. She serves as the President-Elect for the Lehigh Valley Dietetics Association and is a Certified Group Lifestyle Balance Coach for the National Diabetes Prevention Program. Connect with her on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/lyndiwieand/ or follow her on Instagram @lyndi_wieand.rdn.