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We only have one pair of eyes so regardless of whether we have 20/20 vision or not, caring for our eyes is critical to maintain good vision and eye health.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 most beneficial ingredients for your eyes.
A large number of evidence show that lutein has several beneficial effects, especially on eye health. Lutein and zeaxanthin are important antioxidants in the eye macula -- the area for vision. They protect the eyes from harmful free radicals (Paul S. Bernstein et al. 2016)¹. Lutein and zeaxanthin work synergistically to filter harmful blue light, thus protecting eyes from damage (Aize Kijlstra et al. 2012)². Besides, they may also improve normal ocular function by enhancing contrast sensitivity and by reducing glare disability (Yu-Ping Jia et al. 2017)³.
Astaxanthin is a naturally occurring red carotenoid pigment and is typically found in marine environments, especially in microalgae and seafood. Astaxanthin features strong antioxidant activities. Several recent clinical trials highlight the potential of astaxanthin in promoting eye health and improving various ocular conditions (Giuseppe Giannaccare et al. 2020)⁴.
Spirulina has become popularly known as a superfood due to its great diversity and density in nutrients. (Bob Capelli et. al, 2010)⁵. It is a valuable source of protein, vitamins, minerals, β-carotene, fatty acids, etc. which makes it perfect food. It is the most nutritionally dense whole food known which has the potential to protect your eyes (Meeta Mathur, 2018)⁶. Spirulina when taken orally help protect retina photoreceptors from photostress in the retina (Tomohiro Okamoto et al. 2019)⁷.
Mixed citrus such as lemon, orange, lime, tangerine, and grapefruit are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, polyphenols, and citrus flavonoids (Chikako Shimizu et al. 2019)⁸. Consumption of antioxidants prevents degenerative processes caused by oxidative stress (Kaur C et al. 2001)⁹. A new study has shown that people who regularly eat oranges are less likely to develop macular degeneration than people who do not eat oranges (Bamini Gopinath et al. 2018)¹⁰.
Vitamin C is a major antioxidant in the lens of the eye (Robert Abel Jr. MD. 2018)¹¹. It helps the body form and maintain connective tissues, including collagen found in the cornea of the eye (Experimental Eye Research. 2007)¹². According to American Optometric Association, vitamin C taken with other essential nutrients, can slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Vitamin E is the major lipid-soluble component in the cell antioxidant defence system (Saliha Rizvi et al. 2014)¹³. It protects our eyes against damaging free radicals. It was used as a daily supplement in the The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) as a potential treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Vitamin A plays a crucial role in vision by maintaining a clear cornea, which is the outside covering of our eye. This vitamin is also a component of rhodopsin, a protein in our eyes that allows us to see in low light conditions (Ross CA et al. 2010)¹⁴. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, vitamin A helps in the development of a protein that enables the retina to absorb light for optimum vision. In addition, epidemiological data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I) showed that those who consumed higher amounts of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin A have reduced risk for any stage of AMD.
Zinc is a co-factor of many metabolically active enzymes within the eye (King et.al 2011)¹⁵. Zinc is found in ocular tissue, particularly the retina (Ugarte et al. 2001)¹⁶. A moderate amount of zinc supplementation helps protect the retina and reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (Hock Eng Khoo et al. 2019)¹⁷ as well as maintaining vision acuity in the elderly (D A Newsom et al. 1988)¹⁸.
Bilberries, blackberries, and blackcurrants contain high amounts of anthocyanins — flavonoid pigments with powerful antioxidant properties (Yuri Nomi et al. 2019)¹⁹. Anthocyanins may help reduce macular degeneration and maintain healthy cornea and blood vessels in various parts of the eye (Chung-Jung Chiu et al. 2007)²⁰.
Paul S. Bernstein, Binxing Li, Preejith P. Vachali, Aruna Gorusupudi, Rajalekshmy Shyam, Bradley S. Henriksen and John M. Nolan. Lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin: the clinical science underlying carotenoid-based interventions against ocular disease. Prog Retin Eye Res. 2016 Jan; 50:34-66.
Aize Kijlstra, Yuan Tian, Elton R Kelly, Tos T J M Brendschot. Lutein: more than just a filter for blue light. 2012 Jul;31(4):303-15. doi: 10.1016/j.preteyeres.2012.03.002. Epub 2012 Mar 21.
Yu-Ping Jia, Lei Sun, He-Shui Yu, Li-Peng Liang, Wei Li, Hui Ding, Xin-Bo Song and Li-Juan Zhang. The pharmacological effects of lutein and zeaxanthin on visual disorders and cognition diseases. Molecules 2017, 22(4), 610; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules22040610.
Giuseppe Giannaccare, Marco Pellegtini, Carlotta Senni, Federico Bernabei, Vincenzo Scorcia and Arrigo Francesco Giuseppe Cicero. Clinical application of astaxanthin in the treatment of diseases: emerging insights. Mar Drugs. 2020 May; 18(5): 239. Published online 2020 May 1. doi: 10.3390/md18050239.
Bob Capelli and Gerald Cysewski. Potential health benefits of spirulina microalgae. April 2020. Nutrafoods 9(2).
Meeta Mathur. Bioactive molecules of spirulina: A food supplement. 2018 Jun. Bioactive Molecules in Food pp 1-22.
Tomohiro Okamoto, Hirohiko Kawashima, Hideto Osada, Eriko Toda, Kohei Homma, Norihiro Nagai, Yasuyuki Imai, Kazuo Tsubota and Yoko Ozawa. Dietary spirulina supplementation protects visual function from photostress by suppressing retinal neurodegeneration in mice. Transl Vis Sci Technol. 2019 Nov; 8(6): 20. Published online 2019 Nov 20. doi: 10.1167/tvst.8.6.20.
Chikako Shimizu, Yoshihisa Wakita, Takashi Inoue, Masanori Hiramitsu, Miki Ikada, YutakaMitani, Shuichi Segawa, Youichi Tsuchiya & Toshitaka Nabeshima. Effects of lifelong intake of lemon polyphenols on aging and intestinal microbiome in the senescence-accelerated mouse prone 1 (SAMP1). Scientific Reports 9, Article number: 3671 (2019).
Kaur C, Kapoor HC. Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables-the millennium’s health. Int J Food Sci Technol. 2001;36:703–725. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2621.2001.00513.x.
Bamini Gopinath, Gerald Liew, Annette Kifley, Victoria M, Flood Nichole, Joachim Joshua R, Lewis Jonathan M, Hodgson Paul Mitchell. Dietary flavonoids and the prevalence and 15-y incidence of age-related macular degeneration. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2018 DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy114.
Robert Abel Jr. MD. Chapter 84- Cataracts. Integrative Medicine (Forth Edition) 2018, Pages 830 – 837.el.
Nutritional antioxidants and age-related cataract and maculopathy. Experimental Eye Research. February 2007.
Saliha Rizvi, Syed T. Raza, Faizal Ahmed, Absar Ahmad, Shania Abbas, and Farzana Mahdi. The role of vitamin E in human health and some diseases. Sultan Qaboos Univ Med J. 2014 May; 14(2): e 157-e165.
Ross CA. Vitamin A. In: Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. 2nd ed. London and New York: Informa Healthcare; 2010:778-91.
King, J.C. Zinc: An essential but elusive nutrient. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2011, 94, 679S–684S.
Ugarte, M.; Osborne, N.N. Zinc in the retina. Prog. Neurobiol. 2001, 64, 219–249.
Hock Eng Khoo, Hui Suan Ng, Wai-Sum Yap, Henri Ji Hang Goh and Hip Seng Yim. Nutrients for prevention of macular degeneration and eye-related diseases. MDPI, 2019.
D A Newsome, M Swartz, N C Leone, R C Elston, E Miller. Oral zinc in macular degeneration. Arch Ophthalmol. 1998 Feb; 106(2): 192- 8.
Yuri Nomi, Keiko Iwasaki-Kurashige and Hitoshi Matsumoto. Therapeutic effects of anthocyanins for vision and eye health. Molecules. 2019 Sep; 24 (18): 3311.
Chung-Jung Chiu, Allen Taylor. Nutritional antioxidants and age-related cataract and maculopathy. Exp Eye Res. 2007 Feb; 84(2):229-45. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2006.05.015. Epub 2006 Jul 31.
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