The 9 Most Important Vitamins For Eye Health
Your eyes are complex organs that need many different vitamins and nutrients to function properly.
Common conditions, such as diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts, can impact your eyes.
Though a variety of different factors causes these conditions, nutrition seems to have an influence on all of them at least in part.
Here are 9 key vitamins and nutrients that help maintain eye health.
As You Age Vitamin D Can Help Your Eyes Stay Healthy And Strong
People with early AMD are associated with lower levels of vitamin D in their blood.
Drink your milk, so you can grow up big and strong. As kids, many of us probably heard that from our parents. But as adults, milk and other foods high in vitamin D can play an important role in keeping our eyesight healthy and strong as we age.
Among older Americans, age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss, with more than 25 million people worldwide suffering from it.1 AMD occurs when part of the retina deteriorates. Because AMD affects the central portion of vision, it impacts daily activities like driving, reading and doing close work.2 People with early AMD are associated with lower levels of vitamin D in their blood.3 Including vitamin D in your lifestyle can help keep you from being a part of this affected group.
While theres no substitute for vitamin D obtained through sunlight, you can get vitamin D through a variety of foods including milk, cold-water fish such as red sockeye salmon, sardines or cod liver oil and other foods containing essential fatty acids, as well as nutritional supplements.4 Omega-3 is the most well-known essential fatty acid, which can be found in these foods:5
- Dark leafy vegetables
- Nutritional supplements
Be sure to include at least some of the foods listed here in your daily diet. Keeping your eyes and the rest of your body healthy through good nutrition isnt good just for kids. Its good for grown-ups, too.
Where Is Vitamin D Found
Vitamin D deficiency is uncommon, so its important to speak with your doctor before supplementing your diet with extra vitamin D. However, some people could be at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency, like those with inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, and untreated celiac disease.
For optimal health, most doctors recommend 1,000 international units of vitamin D per day for adults, although this is dependent on whether you are deficient or not, or have other health factors that could influence your levels. It is generally recognized that adults can safely consume up to 4,000 IU per day. If you decide to consume more than this, it could be a good idea to get your vitamin D levels checked through a blood test.
For optimal health, most doctors recommend 1,000 international units of vitamin D per day for adults, although this is dependent on whether you are deficient or not, or have other health factors that could influence your levels. It is generally recognized that adults can safely consume up to 4,000 IU per day.
While it is difficult to get enough vitamin D from food alone, here are some examples of where you can find it:
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Other Important Vision Vitamins For Good Eyesight
If youre like most people, youre wondering, Do vitamins for vision work? The simple answer is, as weve seen with Vitamin A in carrots, yesbut in varying degrees. There are vitamins for vision loss that you can take, but none of them produce miraculous results.
Getting enough vitamins is important at every age, especially natural vitamins in your food. The functions of vitamins can be numerous. Their benefits are evident. To help you, weve decided to list other vitamins, their benefits to your eyes, and what foods provide them abundantly.
Best Sources Of Vitamin D
Getting adequate sunlight is the best way to help the body produce enough vitamin D. Experts suggest getting 10-30 minutes per day, several times a week to maintain healthy blood levels. This time may fluctuate depending on how sensitive your skin is to sunlight.9
Certain foods can also be good sources of vitamin D such as:
- Fish: fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and tuna
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds
- Fruits and vegetables: avocado, mushrooms, dark leafy vegetables such as spinach and collard greens
- Egg yolks
- Dairy: cheese, fortified milk, yogurt
- Fortified cereals and juices
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Vitamin A And Beta Carotene
essential for good vision. It is a component of the protein rhodopsin, which allows the eye to see in low-light conditions. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, a deficiency in vitamin A can lead to night blindness.
Vitamin A also supports the function of the cornea, which is the protective outer layer of the eye. A person who is deficient in vitamin A may find that their eyes produce too little moisture to stay lubricated.
Beta carotene is the primary source of vitamin A in the human diet. Beta carotene is a type of plant pigment called a carotenoid that exists in many colorful fruits and vegetables. When a person consumes carotenoids, their body converts the pigments into vitamin A.
Determining Systemic Vitamin D Insufficiency And Deficiency
The 25 D blood test, a biomarker for Vitamin D reserves, is an inexpensive and widely available blood test. Liver stores are affected by environmental factors such as latitude, season, diet, medications and personal sunning behavior. While a loin-clothed equatorial man would be expected to have a 25 D of 20 ng/ml, the typical normative laboratory reference range is 30100 ng/ml with optimal values occurring mid-range at 4060 ng/ml. Any 25 D liver- reserve value below 20 ng/ml is considered deficient .
Optimal 25 vitamin D liver reserves. Slide used with permission, John Cannell, MD www.vitaminDcouncil.org.
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Vitamin D And Its Effects On Eyesight
It has been estimated that the complex system that enables eyesight requires about 30 percent of a persons oxygen intake and 25 percent of their nutritional intake. Thus, healthy eyesight depends on essential nutrients, such as vitamins. Vitamins A, C and E are antioxidants that have been well-established as preserving eyesight and promoting healthy eyes, but evidence suggests vitamin D is associated with reduced risks of macular degeneration.
Is There A Link Between Vitamin D Deficiency And Uveitis
For people with uveitis, keeping vitamin D levels in a healthy range could help prevent flare ups, new research suggests.
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Painful, light-sensitive eyes and trouble seeing clearly can certainly make life difficult. Uveitis is inflammation of the eyeball, specifically the uvea a layer of blood vessels that coats the inside of the eye.
The uvea includes the iris , the ciliary body and the choroid .
When this part of the eye becomes inflamed, it can result in redness, pain, floaters, sensitivity to light and blurred vision. In serious cases, it can damage vital eye tissue, leading to permanent vision loss.
Uveitis is relatively uncommon in Australia, it affects only around 20 people per 100,000 each year.
However, it can affect people of all ages, from small children right through to the elderly. It can affect just one eye or both at once, and can be acute or chronic.
What causes uveitis?
There are a number of things that can cause uveitis, including infections and eye injuries. But in Australia and other developed countries, most cases are caused by an autoimmune response.
Autoimmune diseases are when your immune system attacks a part of your body in a case of mistaken identity, explains Associate Professor Lyndell Lim, a uveitis and medical retina subspecialist and Head of Clinical Trials Research at CERA.
Vitamin D deficiency and uveitis
Next, Id say lets check your vitamin D levels.
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Where Can You Get Vitamin D
Most people associate vitamin D with sunlight exposure. This is the main way our body creates and uses vitamin D. When your skin is exposed to the UV-B rays from the sun, it produces vitamin D which then disperses to the rest of your body. However, this doesnt mean you should spend the whole day in the sun unprotected.
The suns rays are extremely dangerous in excess. Yes, its crucial we get some exposure. But too much can damage and cause cancer in the skin and eyes. Fair-skinned people are recommended to get about 10 minutes of sun exposure. Darker skin tones can add a few more minutes, not exceeding 15. After that, all skin types need to wear sunscreen and sunglasses.
How Can Vitamin D Deficiency Negatively Impact Eye Health
- Eye Health
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient the body needs for many vital processes. It promotes healthy bones and teeth, regulates insulin levels, benefits the immune system, and supports lung function, cardiovascular health, and brain and nervous system health.5 Vitamin D also plays a vital role in protecting against conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, some types of cancer, multiple sclerosis, and infections and immune system disorders.1
Vitamin D is also critical for eye health. From improving tear function to reducing the risk of macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma, vitamin D has a positive effect on eyesight in many ways.3
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Vitamin D Shows Eye Health Benefits: Study
Related tags:, Retina,
The sunshine vitamin was associated with a reduction in the accumulation of amyloid beta, said to be a risk factor for age-related macular degeneration , the leading cause of blindness in the over 50s, report researchers from University College Londons Institute of Ophthalmology.
Given the small size of the mouse cone population, the effect of vitamin D3 on their response is surprisingly large, they wrote in Neurobiology of Aging.
In humans, the central retina, which represents the region of greatest visual acuity, is populated purely by cones and is the targeted region in age related macular degeneration . Hence, in this respect, vitamin D3 treatment may have a more significant impact on the aging human retina and its visual function than that in rodents.
The macula is a yellow spot of about five millimeters diameter on the retina. As we age, levels of the pigments in the macula decrease naturally, thereby increasing the risk of age-related macular degeneration . The yellow color is due to the content of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which we derive from the diet.
These compounds are the only carotenoids capable of filtering the harmful blue light than can damage cells in the eye, the rods and the cones.
The vitamin was also associated with significant reductions in the number of macrophages in the retina, a mark of chronic inflammation, said the researchers.
Uveitis Linked To Vitamin D Deficiency
Uveitis is swelling of the uvea: the iris, ciliary body and blood vessels that line the back of the eye. This problem has a number of possible causes, including infection, digestive disease, post-eye surgery complications, eye trauma, inflammatory conditions, and autoimmune diseases. Sensitivity to light, blurry vision, floaters, pain, and/or redness are symptoms of uveitis.
A study looked at non-infectious uveitis patients.2 The researchers measured the levels of Vitamin D in the blood, as well as Vitamin D intake and exposure. The subjects who had active uveitis had lower levels of this vitamin in their blood than those with inactive uveitis . Compared to the general local population , active uveitis patients were also lower. Subjects who supplemented with Vitamin D were less likely to have active uveitis. So were those who had more sun exposure. The researchers concluded that Vitamin D supplements may help prevent uveitis relapse.
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Macular Degeneration Causes Irreversible Vision Loss
Age-related macular degeneration is a chronic, late-onset disease that results in degeneration of the macula, the central portion of the retina that allows for focused, precise vision. It is the leading cause of adult irreversible vision loss and affects about 8.5 million Americans aged 40 and older, the researchers say.
Study author Amy E. Millen, PhD, of the University of Buffalo, and colleagues studied data from 1,313 women to investigate whether a well-known blood test for vitamin D status might be associated with early age-related macular degeneration.
The blood test, called serum 25 D, measures vitamin D exposure from oral sources and sunlight, Millen says in a news release.
Previous Research Has Found Similar Vitamin D Benefit
The researchers say that their study is the second to find an association between age-related macular degeneration and vitamin D levels. More studies are needed to verify their findings, the researchers say, as well as to understand more about the potential interaction between vitamin D levels and genetic and lifestyle factors concerning the risk of early development of macular degeneration.
The study is published in the April issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.
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Skeletal Disease Muscle Tone And Enhanced Athletic Performance
Vitamin D’s classic role is aiding the absorption of calcium and phosphorous, which along with vitamin K2, magnesium, zinc, boron and essential fatty acids helps form and maintain bone mineralization. Without Vitamin D, bones become thin, weak, brittle, soft, or misshapen . Fortification of milk products in the 1930s largely eliminated rickets as a major public health concern in the United States. Nonetheless, in the past 10 years, physicians have been seeing an increase in the number of infants diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency rickets, a disease once considered virtually nonexistent. The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends that pregnant and nursing women take a 2000 IU Vitamin D supplement during the winter to protect themselves and their infants from rickets.
The Role Of Vitamin D In The Body
Vitamin D has been researched extensively in relation to a number of general health benefits. Its both a fat-soluble vitamin which your body needs to absorb calcium and a pre-hormone that is produced by your body when your skin is exposed to UV rays. According to the NHS, vitamin D also helps to control the amount of calcium and phosphate in your body, both of which are needed for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. Its known that vitamin D plays an important role in the immune system, working to support immune function and reduce inflammation.i As such, its thought to be linked to a whole range of conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even depression.
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Ocular Surface Inflammation And Pathology
Vitamin D is known to affect cell differentiation. In the cornea, VDR knockout mice had smaller superficial squamous cell size, decreased total corneal thickness, and lower numbers of tight junctions than wild-type animals . Additionally, VDR influenced cell diffusion coefficients within the cornea, possibly playing a role in gap junction communications and development in this ocular tissue . Interestingly, the rate of epithelial wound healing was decreased in VDR knockout animals . Mucin packaging in conjunctival goblet cells was also altered in VDR-deficient mice, with lower amounts of mucin in these animals compared to wild-types . However, both mucin and wound closure differences seemed to be attributable to vitamin Dâs influence on calcium homeostasis, as restoring ionized calcium levels in the VDR knockout mice restored normal mucin packaging as well as healing rates in these studies.
Vitamin D And The Eye: Uveitis Macular Degeneration And Dry Eye
Lack of Vitamin D has been associated with eye diseases like uveitis, macular degeneration, and dry eye. Vitamin D deficiency is also linked to cancer, immune disorders, heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, bone pain, depression, asthma, multiple sclerosis, and even dementia. Shockingly, more than 40% of the US population is Vitamin D deficient. The body manufactures Vitamin D, so why is deficiency wide spread? Indoor living, aging, and many other factors are behind this virtual pandemic. How can you measure your vitamin D levels? How can you get enough? Isnt fortified milk enough? Should you take a supplement? Which one?
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Cardiovascular Disease And Vitamin D
Mechanistically, Vitamin D works against arteriolosclerosis in six distinct ways: inhibition of vascular smooth muscle proliferation suppression of vascular calcification and depression of parathyroid hormone down regulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as C reactive protein up regulation of anti-inflammatory cytokines negative endocrine regulation of the renin-angiotensin system and lowering insulin resistance.
A Vitamin D deficiency is far more predictive of a future heart attack than cholesterol status, says a report of 18,255 American men published in the Archives of Internal Medicine on June 9, 2008. High cholesterol combined with a Vitamin D deficiency increased the risk of a heart attack by about 2.4 times, but a Vitamin D deficiency alone accounted for 2.0 times that risk, or 83% of the entire increased risk.
Foods That Provide Vitamin D
Vitamin D is also available through certain foods. Fatty fish are high in Vitamin D, as well as pumpkin seeds , walnuts, sesame seeds and Brazil nuts. Dark leafy greens and avocado contain natural Vitamin D. However, if you have a deficiency, food will probably not be enough.This vitamin helps you absorb calcium, so most milk is Vitamin D-fortified. However, fortified milk will probably not provide optimum amounts of Vitamin D. Make sure your milk contains Vitamin D3, which is more beneficial than D2.
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What Are The Benefits Of Vitamin D
There are a variety of benefits associated with vitamin D but it is perhaps most commonly known for its importance for bone health. If you take a calcium supplement, you might have noticed that there is also some vitamin D added this is because it helps your bones absorb the calcium, instead of remaining in your bloodstream.
However, there are also many other benefits of vitamin D, including the prevention of cardiovascular disease, aiding in autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases and schizophrenia, as well as the prevention of some cancers.