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Looking to bridge nutritional gaps in your diet? Here are the best vitamins and supplements for your eyes.
Caroline IgoEditor, Sleep
Caroline Igo (she/her/hers) is a wellness editor and holds Sleep Science Coach and Stress Management certificates from the Spencer Institute. She received her bachelor's degree in creative writing from Miami University and continues to further her craft in her free time. Before joining CNET, Caroline wrote for past CNN anchor, Daryn Kagan.
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Carl R. Greer/Andrew D. Hepburn Award for Best Nonfiction Essay (Miami University, 2020)
Amelia Ti is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES) based in NYC. She completed her Bachelor's in Nutrition & Dietetics at NYU and Master's in Applied Nutrition at Russell Sage College. Amelia's evidence-based knowledge and passion for the field allow her to translate nutrition research and innovation to the public.
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Do you eat the best foods for your vision, such as carrots, broccoli and salmon? If you do, you're on the right track to taking better care of your eyes. If you find it challenging to eat a balanced diet with whole foods, or if you need an extra boost of all the essential vitamins and nutrients, supplements may be a good strategy for you. Here are the best vitamins and supplements to add to your daily routine to further care for your eyes.
The best supplements for eyes and vision
In addition to a balanced diet, here are the six best vitamins and supplements to take for your eyes. Luckily, you can get most of these added supplements for less than $10.
Vitamin A supports your vision, immune system, heart, lungs and overall growth and development. Specifically, vitamin A helps you see a full spectrum of light, as the vitamin produces pigments in the retina. It can also keep your eyes from drying out. You can find vitamin A in foods such as salmon, broccoli, fortified breakfast cereals, eggs and carrots.
You have probably heard of the magic of carrots. Yes, it's true -- carrots are great for your eyes. Carrots (and other vividly colored fruits and vegetables) are high in beta carotene, which is a compound that your body uses to make vitamin A. Beta carotene is also available in a supplement form, although it isn't as common as vitamin A and is often more expensive.
Vitamin C is like sunscreen for your eyes -- it helps to protect them from UV damage. The more you spend outside and under the sun, the greater the risk for damage. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, too long in the sun can cause irreversible damage. Vitamin C can also lower your risk of cataracts, a disease that causes the lens of your eyes to become cloudy. While a recent study found that vitamin C supplementation was effective in patients who were already vitamin C deficient, more studies need to be conducted to truly understand the relationship between vitamin C and a lower risk of cataracts.
In addition to getting enough vitamin C, avoid tanning beds, and if you are outside, wear sunglasses and a hat to protect your eyes.
Optometrists regularly recommend their patients omega-3s -- and if a patient isn't getting enough of these fatty acids in their diet -- a supplement. Omega-3s are mainly found in fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel or herring and some nuts and seeds.
The American Optometric Association points to omega-3s as a nutrient that can slow the progress of age-related macular degeneration. Studies have found that it can also help prevent dry eye disease. These nutrients are great for both conditions due to their anti-inflammatory effects.
Another powerful antioxidant, vitamin E is vital to all our cells and cell functions. It helps to protect our bodies from cancer-causing free radicals and plays an important role in vision. Studies have shown that vitamin E can help protect the retinas from free radicals that can cause eye disease. Vitamin C, another antioxidant, has more properties that help regeneration. Vitamin E can only help to protect the cells already there.
Zinc helps vitamin A create melanin (a pigment that protects the eyes) and may shield the eyes from age-related macular degeneration. The American Optometric Association recommends 40 to 80 mg a day to slow the progression.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are known for being important for our eyes. Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids and found in red and yellowish fruits and vegetables, as these compounds give the produce their vibrant colors. Carotenoids, also powerful antioxidants, are vital to eye health. They protect the eyes from free radicals that can cause damage. Lutein and zeaxanthin, specifically, have been found to prevent damage to retinas.
These carotenoids can also slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration. The American Optometric Association recommends a daily amount of 10 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin.
While you can find lutein and zeaxanthin in supplement form, one bottle is on the pricier side. You may find it better, easier and more affordable to just eat more fruits and vegetables.
Most vitamins and supplements are generally considered safe for people to take, as they're nutrients that your body naturally requires. You should always talk to your doctor before starting any supplements. Some vitamins and supplements can interact with various medications. Especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult a medical provider first. Your doctor should be able to guide you safely to the best supplements and dosages.
Best vitamins for eyes FAQs
Do vitamins for the eyes really work?
Vitamins for your eyes are especially helpful when you are vitamin deficient in any of the essential vitamins for vision. These include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, omega-3s, zinc, and lutein and zeaxanthin. Studies have found that these vitamins and nutrients can help protect your eyes and even slow the process of age-related eye diseases. While these supplements are not a cure, they support eye health.
What supplements can I take to improve my eyesight?
You can take vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, omega-3s, zinc and lutein and zeaxanthin. While all are available in supplement form at various prices, you can naturally obtain these vitamins and nutrients in a balanced diet.
How can I restore my 20/20 vision naturally?
More studies need to be conducted to fully determine if 20/20 vision can be naturally restored, but there are many natural ways to protect your eyes and even improve your eye health. These include limiting sun exposure, wearing UV sunglasses and a hat, getting all the essential vitamins and minerals through your diet or supplements, taking breaks from staring at a screen, getting enough sleep and practicing eye exercises.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.