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Vitamin E and Zinc for Eye Health

Updated: Mar 2, 2021

Eye Benefits Of Vitamin E

Research suggests vitamin E may help reduce the worsening of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) among people who show early signs of the eye disease.

In the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) involving nearly 5,000 people, participants with early AMD had a 25 percent lower risk of developing advanced stages of the disease when taking a daily nutritional supplement containing vitamin E. The AREDS supplement included 400 International Units (IU) of vitamin E, as well as high levels of vitamin A (as beta-carotene), vitamin C and zinc.

Based on AREDS and other nutritional studies, many eye doctors recommend that their patients supplement their diet with a daily multivitamin that contains up to 400 IU of vitamin E in combination with other antioxidants as part of their preventative eye care.

Some studies suggest vitamin E also may play a role in preventing cataracts:

  • In a large, long-term study of more than 3,000 adults (ages 43 to 86) in Wisconsin, five-year risk for cataracts was 60 percent lower among people who reported using multivitamins or any supplement containing vitamin E or vitamin C for more than 10 years, compared with nonusers.

  • In a 2008 study that evaluated the dietary intake of more than 35,000 female health professionals, women whose diets (including supplements) had the highest levels of lutein and vitamin E had a lower relative risk of cataracts than women whose diets were in the lowest 20 percent for levels of these nutrients.

Vitamin E Foods

How much vitamin E do you need? The U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for adults and children of ages 14 or older is 15 mg per day — the equivalent of 22.5 IU. For women who are breastfeeding, the RDA is 19 mg (28.5 IU). As is true with vitamins A and C, if you smoke, you should plan to consume extra vitamin E.

Sunflower seeds and nuts are among your best sources of vitamin E. Here's a sampling of foods that are high in E:


Food Serving d-alpha-tocopherol (IU)

  1. Cereal (Whole Grain Total brand) 3/4 cup 20.2

  2. Sunflower seeds 1/4 cup 12.5

  3. Almonds 1 ounce (24 nuts) 11.1

  4. Spinach, frozen (boiled; drained) 1 cup 10.1

  5. Hazelnuts 1 ounce 6.4

  6. Mixed nuts (with peanuts) 1 ounce 4.6

  7. Avocado (California) 1 medium 4.0

  8. Peanuts (dry roasted) 1 ounce (28 nuts) 3.3

Minerals That Help Your Body Absorb Antioxidants

Zinc helps your body absorb vitamin A and also helps many antioxidant enzymes in your body reduce the number of free radicals. Zinc has been shown to protect against macular degeneration and night blindness.

Good food sources of zinc include oysters and other seafood, beef, eggs, black-eyed peas, tofu and wheat germ.

However, avoid taking high doses of zinc (beyond 100 mg daily) without first consulting a physician. While zinc is vital to our health in moderation, higher doses have been associated with adverse effects such as reduced immune function.

Selenium is a mineral that helps your body to absorb vitamin E. Good food sources of selenium include Brazil nuts, oysters and other seafood

This post originally posted by All About Vision.


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