Nutrition plays a significant role in reducing the risk of certain eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataract formation. Research has shown that the daily intake of certain nutrients can slow or even stop the progression of macular degeneration. These nutrients can be obtained through certain foods or through dietary supplements. It should always be discussed with your doctor before starting on a supplement program.
The following nutrients have been investigated in long-term studies with positive results. The first study is known as AREDS (Age-Related Eye Disease Study), which released results in 2001. This was followed by the veterans LAST study (Lutein Antioxidant Supplementation Trial) which delivered results in 2004. The levels of the following supplements are based on these studies and are recommended for those who have been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration.
- Lutein 10mg/day- This antioxidant is found in dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, or collards; corn; or eggs.
- Vitamin C 500mg/day- This well-known antioxidant is found in orange juice, other citrus juices, and citrus fruits.
- Vitamin E 400 IU/day- This is another antioxidant, and it is found in nuts, salad and vegetable oils, peanut butter, fortified cereals, sweet potatoes, and margarine. Since vitamin E is stored in the body, it should not go beyond 400 IU/day without consulting your doctor.
- Copper 2mg/day- This mineral is found in mixed nuts, sunflower seeds, beef liver, beans, lentils or mineral supplements.
- Zinc 40-80mg/day- This mineral is recommended at this dosage only for people diagnosed at high risk for macular degeneration. For others, the RDA (recommended daily allowance) is 8-11mg. It is found in red meat, poultry, oysters, fortified breakfast cereals, nuts, baked beans, and milk.
Currently, the AREDS II study is investigating the benefit of essential fatty acids.
- DHA/EPA 500mg/day- These are found in flax or fleshy fish like tuna or salmon, or fish oil supplements.