Nuts and seeds are tasty snacks. They also are excellent sources of vitamin E and minerals such as zinc that help keep your eyes healthy and may decrease your risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
What Is Vitamin E?
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect membranes of cells throughout the body against damage caused by metabolic by-products called free radicals. Harmful free radicals in the body also can result from exposure to environmental pollutants, including cigarette smoke.
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
Sunflower seeds and nuts are among your best sources of vitamin E. Here's a sampling of foods that are high in E:
Cereal (Whole Grain Total brand)
Mixed nuts (with peanuts)
Minerals That Help Your Body Absorb Antioxidants
Your eyes can use some minerals as well. Important minerals for your eyes include zinc and selenium.
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 beef, eggs and black-eyed peas.
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.
This post originally appeared on All About Vision.