The word vitamin derives from the union of “vita”, which means life in Latin, with “amine”, a class of organic compounds. Even though this meaning, it is already possible to know that vitamins are indispensable for human existence.
Our bodies cannot produce vitamins on their own, did you know that? Therefore, the only way to obtain these nutrients and keep our health up to date is through food and some habits, such as sunbathing.
Taking vitamins is beneficial for the health of the skin, heart, brain and even eyes – the focus of today’s article! Did you like it? Keep reading the content to understand which vitamins are important for your eyes and which foods you can find them in.
- What are vitamins for?
- 4 main eye vitamins
- 3 beneficial compounds for vision
- Food good for the eyes
- Eye supplementation
Vitamins are micronutrients, essential substances for the functioning of our body and we need to consume small doses frequently. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
Since they have different roles and functions in our body, and each food has its own vitamin composition.
Vitamins are micronutrients, that is, although they are crucial for the functioning of our body, we only need to consume small doses on a daily basis. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But it’s not that much!
Each vitamin has a specific role in the body and each food has its own vitamin composition. To understand more about the subject and how to improve your eye health, we have separated the 4 main vitamins in the next topic.
4 MAIN EYE VITAMINS
1. VITAMIN A
Vitamin A showed its importance in vision more than 2,000 years ago, where Egyptian and Greek doctors realized that consuming the liver (a source of vitamin A) helped to cure night blindness, caused by its deficiency in the body. It was only in 1913, already in the era of modern medicine, that fat-soluble vitamins were discovered – and vitamin A was the first of them.
In nature, we also find carotenoids, or pre-vitamin A, in foods, which, when they reach the liver, are transformed into vitamin A. The carotenoids give plants their colour. They are beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and cryptoxanthin.
Vitamin A acts on growth, skin and mucous membrane formation and the nervous system. Furthermore, it is essential for vision, contributing to retinal formation and adaptation to darkness.
LEARN MORE ABOUT VITAMIN A’S RELATIONSHIP TO EYE HEALTH
Retinol, derived from vitamin A, gives the neuronal response of lights to the brain. When we are deficient in vitamin A, we may experience dry eyes and night blindness. But beware: vitamin A can be toxic when ingested in large amounts, and may occur in cases of supplementation without nutritional and/or medical advice.
Controlled studies found that vitamin A supplementation reduced child mortality in developing countries. In addition to supplementation, a varied diet and fortified foods also improve vitamin A levels, decreasing the risk of xerophthalmia, night blindness, infectious diseases and infant mortality.
Source foods: carrots, pumpkin, mango, orange, papaya, melon, peach, apricot, pear, broccoli, spinach, kale, cod liver oil, beef liver, cow’s milk and cheeses.
2. COMPLEX B
It is a group of vitamins that is related to our energy performance and metabolism. Complex B also acts directly on the eyes, nervous system, bones, skin, muscles, hair, liver and gastrointestinal system.
Despite being easily found in many foods, the consumption of alcoholic beverages and tobacco increases the demand for B vitamins to metabolize and eliminate toxins from the body. Another important detail is that these vitamins are sensitive to high temperatures and long cooking times. Thus, we may be deficient in B-complex vitamins.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE B COMPLEX’S RELATIONSHIP TO EYE HEALTH
Studies with astronauts showed a relationship between gene expression and levels of vitamins B2, B6 and B9, which are decisive in cases of ocular anomalies.
Thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6), folic acid (B9) and cyanocobalamin (B12) act directly on the eyes. When they are deficient in the body, they can cause toxic optic neuropathy, night blindness, glaucoma, as well as decreased or double vision.
The prevention for the development of glaucoma needs further studies, however, some have already reported that the application of vitamin B3 protected against degeneration, and could act in a preventive way.
Source foods: whole grains, pulses, eggs, dark green leaves, beef, pork, fish, cow’s milk, bananas, oats, yeast, offal, peanuts and nuts.
3. VITAMIN C
Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, that is, it protects against free radicals that favour ageing and various diseases. Vitamin C has it’s potential enhanced when it is paired with other antioxidants such as vitamin E.
Aiding in collagen formation, wound healing, iron absorption and the immune system, vitamin C also acts preventively on the vascular system, scurvy disease and hair weakness.
As it is a water-soluble vitamin, the risk of being toxic to the body is low, as the excess is eliminated in the urine.
Glaucoma is characterized by increased ocular pressure and vitamin C has shown effectiveness in reducing the levels of this pressure. In addition to glaucoma, supplementation is also indicated to prevent cataracts. When combined with other micronutrients, it can also act in the treatment of macular degeneration.
Food source: red and green peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, strawberries, guava, acerola, papaya, and citrus fruits such as lemon, orange and kiwi.
4. VITAMIN E
It protects our nervous system and retina, preventing vision loss. It works to reduce blood pressure, in addition to other functions in various cells. Its action is enhanced when combined with other antioxidants, such as vitamin C, zeaxanthin and lutein.