The following vitamins, minerals and other nutrients have been shown to be essential for good vision and may protect your eyes from sight-robbing conditions and diseases.
Eye benefits of beta-carotene: May protect against night blindness and dry eyes.
Food sources: Carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, butternut squash.
RDA: None (Most supplements contain 5,000 to 25,000 IU).
Eye benefits of bioflavonoids: May protect against cataracts and macular degeneration.
Food sources: tea, red wine, citrus fruits, bilberries, blueberries, cherries, legumes, soy products.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Eye benefits of lutein and zeaxanthin: May prevent cataracts and macular degeneration.
Food sources: Spinach, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, squash.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Eye benefits of omega-3 fatty acids: May help prevent macular degeneration (AMD) and dry eyes.
Food sources: Cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring; flaxseed oil and fish oil; ground flaxseeds and walnuts.
RDA: None. (For cardiovascular benefits, the American Heart Association recommends approximately 1,000 mg daily.)
Eye benefits of selenium: When combined with carotenoids and vitamins C and E, may reduce risk of advanced AMD.
Food sources: Seafood (shrimp, crab, salmon, halibut); Brazil nuts; enriched noodles; brown rice.
RDA: 55 mcg for teens and adults (60 mcg for women during pregnancy and 70 mcg when breast-feeding).
A healthy diet for your eyes should include plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables.
Eye benefits of vitamin A: May protect against night blindness and dry eyes.
Food sources: Beef or chicken liver, cod liver oil, eggs, butter, milk.
RDA: 3,000 IU for men; 2,333 IU for women (2,567 IU during pregnancy and 4,333 IU when breast-feeding).
Eye benefits of vitamin C: May reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Food sources: Sweet peppers (red or green), kale, strawberries, broccoli, oranges, cantaloupe.
RDA: 90 mg for men; 70 mg for women (85 mg during pregnancy and 120 mg when breast-feeding).
Eye benefits of vitamin D: May reduce the risk of macular degeneration.
Food sources: Salmon, sardines, mackerel, milk, orange juice fortified with vitamin D.
RDA: None, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 400 IU per day for infants, children and adolescents, and many experts recommend higher daily intakes for adults. The best source of vitamin D is exposure to sunlight. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun stimulates production of vitamin D in human skin, and just a few minutes of exposure to sunlight each day (without sunscreen) will insure your body is producing adequate amounts of vitamin D.
Eye benefits of vitamin E: When combined with carotenoids and vitamin C, may reduce the risk of advanced AMD.
Food sources: almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts.
RDA: 15 mg for teens and adults (15 mg for women during pregnancy and 19 mg when breast-feeding).
Eye benefits of zinc: Helps vitamin A reduce the risk of night blindness; may play a role in reducing risk of advanced AMD.
Food sources: Oysters; beef, Dungeness crab, turkey (dark meat).
RDA: 11 mg for men; 8 mg for women (11 mg during pregnancy and 12 mg when breast-feeding).
In general, it's best to obtain most nutrients through a healthy diet, including at least two servings of fish per week and plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables.
If you plan to begin a regimen of eye vitamins, be sure to discuss this with your optometrist or ophthalmologist. Taking too much of certain vision supplements can cause problems, especially if you are taking prescription medications for health problems.
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