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3 Nutrients You NEED for Healthier Eyes


Now that summer is approaching and everyone is spending more time outside, you may be wondering how else you can be supporting your eye health, besides just wearing sunglasses. When considering your nutrition, there are a few components to prioritize in order to best support your eyes (and we are not just talking about eating carrots🥕):


1. Carotenoids: β-carotene, Lutein & Zeaxanthin


a. What is the function?

Carotenoids are certain pigments developed to represent the yellow, orange, and red pigments in plants that serve as antioxidants. Beta-carotene, also referred to as provitamin A, is a precursor to vitamin A and therefore gets converted to vitamin A in the body.


Lutein and zeaxanthin, on the other hand, are nonprovitamin A carotenoids. These two nutrients do not convert to or contribute to vitamin A stores. Instead, lutein is shuttled into the back of our eyes after digestion and absorption, and can contribute up to 90% of blue light absorption and overall eye function. Zeaxanthin works similarly to function as sunblock to the eyes.


b. Which foods are rich in these nutrients?

β-carotene: sweet potatoes, winter squash, pumpkin, carrots, kale, spinach

Lutein and Zeaxanthin: yellow corn, orange peppers, orange juice, honeydew melon, mango, eggs, broccoli, dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale



2. Vitamin A


a. What is the function?

Vitamin A aids to the brain in adjusting to see better in dim light. Vitamin A is known as a key nutrient for better vision and overall eye health, and it is easily obtainable through a proper diet. It reduces oxidative stress and prevents further damage to cells. Not only that, it can support white blood cell production, bone structure, and regulates cell division needed for reproduction.


b. Which foods are rich in this nutrient?

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin derived from either provitamin A carotenoids or preformed vitamin A (retinol, retinyl, esters) in the diet.


Preformed vitamin A: animal products, fortified foods, supplements

Provitamin A carotenoids: sweet potatoes, winter squash, pumpkin, carrots, kale, spinach


Since this vitamin is fat-soluble, you should pair the above foods with a healthy source of fat for optimal absorption. This could look like stir-frying your vegetables or pairing them with avocado or nuts.



3. Zinc


a. What is the function?

Zinc carries vitamin A throughout the body. More on this mineral in our blog posts next week!



For more insight on these nutrients, stay tuned for our next blog post discussing a featured article with Dietitian Jenna!



References:

Harvard T.H. Chan Staff. Vitamin A. Harvard.

Delage, B. (2016). Carotenoids. Linus Pauling Institute.



Until Next Time,



Your RD Fuel Good Experts 🍍


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