Last night, the popular BBC programme “Trust me I’m a Doctor” reviewed eye health and whether or not supplementation can help to improve our vision or even reverse damage to our eyesight.
The presenter is well known for being an advocate of a healthy diet over supplementation (a great ideal but not always easy to implement) and so I was curious to see how this would pan out.
And for once, I was pleasantly surprised!
Despite starting the experiment sceptically, Michael Moseley had a wide range of eye tests completed to show his vision was poor at detecting yellow and blue colours due to a brush with diabetes some years before and that his night vision and perception were poor compared to younger people but expected for his age. After 90 days on eyesight improving supplements he was surprised to discover that his blue and yellow colour perception was back to normal, his night vision much improved and the levels of protective macular pigments at the back of the eye (to protect it from damage) were also boosted.
Can we achieve this through diet alone? A group of volunteers tried taking a daily smoothie of fruits and vegetables such as kale and kiwi along with milk and wheatgerm oil for fat to help absorb the key compounds. Interestingly, this group found their lutein levels increase but not their zeaxanthin, making supplements on this occasion the best way to improve eye health.
So, what are the nutrients we need? There are 3 nutrients needed to improve eyesight: Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Meso-zeaxanthin.
Lutein is a yellow compound made only in plants to absorb blue light for photosynthesis. Greens like kale and spinach are great sources, as are egg yolks (animals gain lutein from eating plants rich in it and it is routinely given to chickens to make yolks more yellow, and as such more attractive to us apparently!)
Zeaxanthin is almost identical to lutein, made by plants to absorb light and is responsible for the yellow colour of saffron amongst others.
Meso-zeaxanthin is a form of zeaxanthin made in the body from lutein. When marigolds are processed to extract lutein and zeaxanthin, meso-zeaxanthin is also created.
In terms of supplements, we’ve long been fans of Solgar’s Vision Guard Complex. This combines the antioxidant Vitamins A, C and E, Zinc, beta-carotene (remember being told to eat your carrots to see in the dark?), Taurine, N-Acetyl Cysteine and Selenium along with Bilberry, Ginkgo and Eyebright. This is all in addition to Lutein and zeaxanthin from Marigold (meaning you get your meso-zeaxanthin too!) For people who want a singular supplement, lutein is available on its own too. Maxifocus™ utilises the fat soluble properties of lutein and zeaxanthin in an oral spray to aid maximum absorption and for those who are looking to simply keep their eyes in tip top condition, A.Vogel’s Vision Complex combines Mexican Marigold and Blackcurrant Juice. The lovely people at Green’s Organic have made it even easier to get the wide range of green foods that are rich in lutein into the diet with their Kale Powder – so easy to pop a spoonful into your smoothie. Just be sure to include a little flaxseed or coconut oil in the mix too, to aid the absorption of this fat soluble nutrient.
Not sure which one’s right for you? That’s why we’re here. Pop in, call us, email or even message us on social media (look at us being all technological!) and one of our trained advisors will help you to find the right eye supplement to match your needs and make sure that you keep your eyes protected.