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Nutrients To Prevent Cataracts And Macular Degeneration

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Lutein and zeaxanthin supplements help protect against macular degeneration and cataracts and improve vision. Flavonoid-rich extracts of blueberry, bilberry, pine bark, or grape seed are also beneficial. Beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, zinc, copper, selenium and Omega-3 fatty acids also help prevent eye problems.

Nutritional factors play a key role in the prevention and treatment of cataracts and macular degeneration. A diet high in richly colored fruits and vegetables—as well as targeted supplements—is associated with a lowered risk of both conditions.

What Are The Primary Nutrients Required?

Lutein And Zeaxanthin

In patients with macular degeneration, 10–15 mg of lutein daily led to improvements, including glare recovery, contrast sensitivity, and visual acuity, as compared to a placebo group.

Research shows that lutein and zeaxanthin supplements not only help protect against macular degeneration but also improve visual function in people with macular degeneration. Like the macula, the human lens concentrates lutein and zeaxanthin. In fact, these are the only carotenes found in the human lens.

Lutein is also important in preventing cataracts and improving visual function in people with existing cataracts. Studies have shown that the intake of lutein is inversely associated with cataract surgery.1

 

Flavonoid-Rich Extracts

Take 150–300 mg of one of these extracts every day to support eye health.

Flavonoid-rich extracts of blueberry, bilberry, pine bark, or grape seed also offer valuable eye-health benefits. In addition to possessing excellent antioxidant activity, these extracts have been shown to improve blood flow to the retina and enhance visual processes, especially poor night vision.

Nutritional Antioxidants

Something as simple as taking vitamin C or zinc supplements can produce dramatic effects. You can start by taking 300 mg of vitamin C every day to prevent cataract development.

Nutritional antioxidants—such as beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, zinc, copper, and selenium—are extremely important for eye health. Studies conducted by the Age-Related Eye Disease Study Research Group confirm that a combination of these nutrients produces better results than any single one alone.

In a study, women who took vitamin C for more than 10 years had a 77 percent lower rate of cataract formation compared to women who did not take the vitamin. Zinc also plays an essential role in the metabolism of the retina and the visual process.2 A two-year trial involving 151 subjects showed that the group taking zinc had significantly less visual loss than the placebo group.

CoQ10 And Acetyl-L-Carnitine

In one double-blind study, 200 mg of acetyl-L-carnitine, omega-3 fatty acids (460 mg EPA and 320 mg DHA), and 20 mg of CoQ10 was shown to improve visual function and macular alterations in early-stage macular degeneration. This combination stopped the disease from progressing in 47 out of 48 cases.

Fish Oils

There is a strong relationship between atherosclerosis (known as hardening of the arteries) and eye health.

The recommended dosage is 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA.

Therefore, just as in atherosclerosis, omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils play an important role in preventing macular degeneration and other eye conditions.

Foods Rich In These Nutrients

The foods rich in the carotenes lycopene, zeaxanthin, and lutein include the following:

  • Bell peppers
  • Carrots
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Papaya
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes

References   [ + ]

1. Olmedilla, B., F. Granado, I. Blanco, and M. Vaquero. “Lutein, but not α-tocopherol, supplementation improves visual function in patients with age-related cataracts: a 2-y double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study.” Nutrition 19, no. 1 (2003): 21-24.
2. Moriarty-Craige, Siobhan E., Khoi-Nguyen Ha, Paul Sternberg, Michael Lynn, Susan Bressler, Gary Gensler, and Dean P. Jones. “Effects of long-term zinc supplementation on plasma thiol metabolites and redox status in patients with age-related macular degeneration.” American journal of ophthalmology 143, no. 2 (2007): 206-211.
Michael T. Murray

Michael T. Murray ND is a naturopathic physician regarded as one of the world's top authorities on natural medicine. An educator, lecturer, researcher, and health food industry consultant, he is the author of more than 30 books, including his new book, The Complete Book of Juicing, Revised and Updated: Your Delicious Guide to Youthful Vitality (Clarkson Potter, 2014). Learn more at www.DrMurray.com.

Michael T. Murray

Michael T. Murray ND is a naturopathic physician regarded as one of the world's top authorities on natural medicine. An educator, lecturer, researcher, and health food industry consultant, he is the author of more than 30 books, including his new book, The Complete Book of Juicing, Revised and Updated: Your Delicious Guide to Youthful Vitality (Clarkson Potter, 2014). Learn more at www.DrMurray.com.