Properly taking care of your eyes doesn’t have to be difficult. If you already eat all the best foods for your vision — think carrots, broccoli and salmon — you’re on the right track. But if you find it challenging to eat a balanced diet with whole foods or 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 vision, the 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. However, 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. However, vitamin C, another antioxidant, has more properties that help regeneration. Vitamin E can only help to protect the cells already there.
Vitamin E can also slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration. The American Optometric Association recommends 400 IU a day.
Zinc is found in almost all multivitamins because it is such an essential nutrient to the body. It is used to boost the immune system and help the body heal from wounds quickly. Zinc also aids in eye health.
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
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.
Risks of vitamins for eyes
Most vitamins and supplements are generally considered safe for people to take, as they’re nutrients that your body naturally requires. However, 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.