Vitamin Therapy

March 13, 2013

As with the rest of the blog entries, this entry is not intended to replace a doctor’s medical advice, nor should it supersede your current health regimen. Please consult your medical care provider PRIOR to beginning any medical regimen, even vitamin therapy, as some vitamins can counteract certain medications and even put your health at risk.

Having a broad range of food groups from which you obtain your daily caloric count is essential to overall health. Ensuring that you include leafy greens, naturally-vitamin enriched fruits and vegetables, and limiting your intake of fats and simple carbohydrates can do quite a bit to increase your overall health. However, even diets rich in the essential nutrients for your best health can benefit from the addition of vitamin therapy. Certain vitamins can even aide in ocular health! Always make sure that you purchase vitamins from a reputable company; while certain products may be absorbed by the body more easily than others, purchasing higher quality vitamins can even be safer than inexpensive, foreign-market derived vitamins.

Dietary Choices and Ocular Health

There is a veritable smorgasbord of foods that are wonderful for eye health. Focusing on the main vitamins that promote ocular health is a great way to start any dietary change as the foods that aide in eye health aide in overall health as well.

Types of Vitamins Which Can Aide in Ocular Health:

A. Fish Oil/Flaxseed Oil/Omega-3s; these vitamins are a full-body enhancer, meaning, they can aide in the overall health of the body, from hair growth to ocular lubrication, to protection against cancers and Alzheimer’s disease. One tip for fish oil supplements: freezing the tablets can reduce their “repeat” effect (burping/fishy taste), which can often be a deterrent for patients who have had issues in the past. The addition of fish or flaxseed oils should be monitored by your primary care physician. There are natural sources for Omega-3s as well, including seafood, walnuts, flaxseed, fresh basil, and Chinese broccoli. 

B. Antioxidants and Vitamins C and E; while there are many delicious natural sources of antioxidants and Vitamins C and E (including blueberries, sweet red peppers, strawberries, citrus fruits, and broccoli), many patients may prefer to add a vitamin supplement in addition to their dietary regimen.

Because Vitamin C is water-soluble (meaning, excess amounts are excreted in urine), taking above the recommended daily allowance is generally considered to be safe. In addition to providing a reduced risk for coronary heart disease, it is believed that 500mg of Vitamin C daily can reduce the risk of early cataract development. Smoking, while detrimental to general health, can decrease the effectiveness of Vitamin C, and should be considered when taking therapeutic treatments.

C. Lutein & Zeaxanthin.
These important nutrients are found in leafy green vegetables and eggs. They can reduce risks for AMD and cataracts. High intakes of Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Vitamin E can decrease cataract development by neutralizing free radicals.

D. Zinc.
An essential trace mineral, zinc aides in transferring Vitamin A from the liver to the retina to produce melanin, which provides pigmentary protection to the eyes. Zinc deficiency can lead to poor night vision, cataracts, and infection susceptibility. Patients who are at risk for AMD may benefit from increased zinc intake. This can be done via supplementation or by adhering to a diet rich in wheat germ, eggs, seafood, mixed nuts, black-eyed peas, tofu, and baked beans.