What vitamins are best for your eyes?

Vitamins are essential nutrients for the health of your body. There are 13 basic types of vitamins, and you can get an adequate supply of these by eating a balanced diet. Some vitamins are stored in the body, while others are regularly eliminated. Below, we’ve listed several of these vitamins that can help improve your vision and keep your eyes healthy, as well as their most common food sources.


Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a well-known antioxidant that supports the health of ocular blood vessels.1 Various studies have confirmed the eye-health benefits of vitamin C. A 2016 study on the impact of vitamin C on the progression of cataracts in the eyes of 334 pairs of female twins found that participants with a higher intake of vitamin C had a 33% risk reduction.2 The recommended daily amount of vitamin C is 90 mg for males and 75 mg for females.3


Food Serving size Vitamin C (mg)
Orange juice
Grapefruit juice
Kiwifruit, gold
Orange
Grapefruit
Strawberries
Tomato
Sweet red pepper
Broccoli (cooked)
Potato (baked)
¾ cup (177ml)
¾ cup (177ml)
1 fruit (86 g)
1 medium
½ medium
1 cup
1 medium
½ cup
½ cup
1 medium
62–93
62–70
91
70
38
85
16
95
51
17

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant essential for our immune system. It can protect the eye cells from damage caused by free radicals.4 The human body cannot produce vitamin E itself. Thus, we need to make sure we get our daily intake through food sources and supplements. Vitamin E can be found in nuts and sweet potatoes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends 27 mg per day.5


Food Serving size Vitamin E (mg)
Sunflower seed kernel (roasted)
Almonds
Hazelnuts
Peanuts
Peanut butter, smooth
Tomato sauce, canned
Cranberry juice
1 oz (28 g)
1 oz (23 nuts)
1 oz (21 nuts)
1 oz (23 nuts)
2 tablespoons
1 cup
1 cup
7.4
7.3
4.3
2.4
3.2
3.5
3


Lutein and Zeaxanthin

These two carotenoids are considered antioxidants and can be found in the eye. Carotenoids refer to red, orange or yellow pigments that are naturally synthesized by plants. Studies suggest that lutein and zeaxanthin can reduce the risks of chronic eye diseases.6 They can be found in all orange and yellow vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkins and papayas.7

Leafy greens such as kale, spinach and collard greens are also rich sources of lutein and zeaxanthin. Although there is no established daily recommended intake, some studies have shown benefits in taking 10mg/day of lutein and 2mg/day of zeaxanthin.


Food Serving size Lutein + Zeaxanthin (mg)
Spinach (cooked)
Kale (cooked)
Turnip greens, (cooked)
Collards (cooked)
Mustard greens (cooked)
Green peas (cooked)
Winter squash (baked)
Broccoli (cooked)
Romaine lettuce (raw)
Eggs
1 cup
1 cup
1 cup
1 cup
1 cup
1 cup
1 cup
1 cup
1 cup
2 large
29.8
25.6
19.5
18.5
8.3
3.8
2.9
2
1.3
0.3


Essential Fatty Acids DHA and EPA

There are good fats and bad fats. As Rebecca Cotterall, a nutritional therapist at Hello Healing points out, “one of the most important factors for eye health is a healthy nervous system which is strongly supported by healthy fats”. She also notes that “many people see fat as our enemy and try to avoid it at all costs, but healthy fats don’t make you fat. In fact, we need fat for energy production and nerve health”.7

The good ones are essential fatty acids and are crucial to ensure proper functioning of all tissues in the body. Fatty acids such as omega-3 can be found in fish and fish oils. Fatty acids such as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are vital for proper retinal function and development.8 The daily recommended intake of DHA and EPA is 500 mg (0.5 g),9 and you can get your daily value easily in one serving of salmon or oysters. Omega-3 fats protect cells, boost the immune system, and are a great source of energy. Low levels of DHA/EPA have been linked to dry-eye syndrome and other eye diseases, including retinopathy and AMD.10


Food Serving size EPA/DHA (g)
Herring, Pacific
Salmon, chinook
Sardines, Pacific
Salmon, Atlantic
Oysters, Pacific
Salmon, sockeye
Trout, rainbow
Tuna, canned, white
Crab, Dungeness
Tuna, canned, light
3 oz (85 g)
3 oz (85 g)
3 oz (85 g)
3 oz (85 g)
3 oz (85 g)
3 oz (85 g)
3 oz (85 g)
3 oz (85 g)
3 oz (85 g)
3 oz (85 g)
1.06
0.86
0.45
0.28
0.75
0.45
0.4
0.2
0.24
0.04


Zinc

Zinc is a vital mineral for our immune system, as it helps promote protein synthesis, wound healing, and cell division. A high concentration of zinc is found in the part of the retina affected by AMD, but this amount declines with age. Zinc deficiency has been linked to vision problems such as cataracts, night blindness, and overall visual impairment.11 The recommended daily intake is 11 mg for males and 9 mg for females.12


Food Serving size Zinc (mg)
Oysters (cooked)
Beef chuck roast, (braised)
Crab, Alaska king (cooked)
Beef patty (broiled)
Lobster (cooked)
Pork chop (cooked)
Baked beans (canned or plain)
Chicken, dark meat (cooked)
Yogurt, fruit, low fat
Cashews
85 g
85 g
85 g
85 g
85 g
85 g
1/2 cup
85 g
227 g
85 g
74
7
6.5
5.3
3.4
2.9
2.9
2.4
1.7
1.6



1 American Optometric Association “Diet and Nutrition Eye Health Booklet” 2005.
2 King's College London. “Increased vitamin C in the diet could help protect against cataracts” 2016.
3 USDA National Agricultural Library. “Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Estimated Average Requirements”. US Department of Agriculture.
4 American Optometric Association “Vitamin E”
5 US. Food and Drug Administration. “Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide (14. Appendix F: Calculate the Percent Daily Value for the Appropriate Nutrients)” 2013.
6 Julie A. Mares-Perlman et. al. “The Body of Evidence to Support a Protective Role for Lutein and Zeaxanthin in Delaying Chronic Disease. Overview” 2016. JN The Journal of Nutrition
7 Rebecca Cotterall, a Nutritional Therapist at “Hello Healing
8 Danielle Swanson et.al. “Omega-3 Fatty Acids EPA and DHA: Health Benefits Throughout Life”
9 Mayo Clinic “Drugs and Supplements Omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil, alpha-linolenic acid: Dosing” upd. 2013.
10 Rahul Bhargava et. al. “A randomized controlled trial of omega-3 fatty acids in dry eye syndrome”. 2013. International Journal of Ophthalmology
11 Linus Pauline Institute “Zinc” upd. 2015. Micronutrient Information Center. Oregon State University.
12 U.S. National Library of Medicine “Zinc in diet”. Upd. 2015.

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