Supplements and Foods to Support Healthy Eye Function

When it comes to your health and well-being, healthy vision and eye function are high on the list of priorities. A well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as certain supplements can support healthy vision and eye function. Vitamin A, along with the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin, all play important roles in eye health support.

Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is necessary for eye development and normal functioning of the retina, the component of the eye that interprets light.†1 When light passes through the retina, a form of vitamin A, called retinal, is released that triggers a nerve impulse to the brain. Your eye requires retinal for low-light vision and for detection of motion.2 Since vitamin A is needed for low-light conditions, normal functioning of the retina, and seeing colors appropriately, severe vitamin A deficiency can ultimately lead to blindness.

Good food sources of vitamin A include cod liver oil, fortified breakfast cereals, eggs, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe and spinach. Yellow and orange-colored vegetables are good food sources of carotenoids, which are precursors to vitamin A (such as beta-carotene). If you do not consume many of the foods mentioned above, a multivitamin containing 2,500 IU vitamin A will help you fill that nutrient gap, such as Nature Made Multi Complete liquid softgels. You may also try a stand-alone vitamin A supplement, such as Nature Made Vitamin A 8,000 IU liquid softgels.

Carotenoids are yellow, orange and red pigments made by plants. Some carotenoids, like beta-carotene, can be converted by the body to vitamin A. Other carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, do not have vitamin A activity but are still important to eye health and vision. Lutein and zeaxanthin are needed in the center of the eye’s retina, called the macula. There, lutein and zeaxanthin absorb blue light, protecting the eye from light-induced oxidative damage.3 When enough lutein and zeaxanthin is present in the macula, up to 90% of blue light can be absorbed by these carotenoids. Several studies have examined the use of supplemental lutein, with or without zeaxanthin, on eye health, showing that it can protect against visual tiredness in healthy people and support visual function.†4,5,6

Astaxanthin, another carotenoid, works with lutein and zeaxanthin to support better eye health.† As an antioxidant, astaxanthin has been shown to protect the eye from ultraviolet light oxidative damage.7

Good food sources of lutein and zeaxanthin include green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collard greens. Astaxanthin can be found in seafood such as salmon and shrimp (astaxanthin is what gives salmon its pink-red color). If you do not regularly consume green leafy vegetables or fish, consider adding a lutein or astaxanthin supplement to your routine. Try Nature Made Extra Strength Lutein 20 mg liquid softgels or Nature Made Astaxanthin 4 mg liquid softgels.

When taking this information into consideration, be sure to consult your doctor on best practices for these supplements and any dietary changes. A combination of both will help you begin your journey to better vision and support your eye health!

1. See AW, Clagett-Dame M. The temporal requirement for vitamin A in the developing eye: mechanism of action in optic fissure closure and new roles for the vitamin in regulating cell proliferation and adhesion in the embryonic retina. Dev Biol. 2009;325(1):94-105.
2. Ross AC. Vitamin A. In: Ross A, Caballero B, Cousins R, Tucker K, Ziegler T, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 11th ed: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2014:260-277.
3. Krinsky NI, Landrum JT, Bone RA. Biologic mechanisms of the protective role of lutein and zeaxanthin in the eye. Annu Rev Nutr. 2003;23:171-201.
4. Kvansakul J, Rodriguez-Carmona M, Edgar DF, et al. Supplementation with the carotenoids lutein or zeaxanthin improves human visual performance. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. 2006;26(4):362-371.
5. Ma L, Lin XM, Zou ZY, Xu XR, Li Y, Xu R. A 12-week lutein supplementation improves visual function in Chinese people with long-term computer display light exposure. Br J Nutr. 2009;102(2):186-190.
6. Stringham JM, Hammond BR, Jr. Dietary lutein and zeaxanthin: possible effects on visual function. Nutr Rev. 2005;63(2):59-64.
7. Santocono, M., Zurria, M., Berrettini, M., Fedeli, D., and Falcioni, G. Influence of astaxanthin, zeaxanthin and lutein on DNA damage and repair in UVA-irradiated cells. J Photochem.Photobiol.B 12-1-2006;85(3):205-215.

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