Recent studies have shown that people who eat more green leafy vegetables, a great source of nitrate, may significantly lower their risk of glaucoma.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that may cause vision loss and blindness by damaging a nerve called the optic nerve, located in the back of the eye. The symptoms typically start slowly and are difficult to notice. A comprehensive dilated eye exam is generally how one discovered they have this disease. There is no cure for glaucoma, but early treatment often halts the damage and may protect residual vision. There are different types of glaucoma, but the most common type is called open-angle glaucoma. Other types are less common, like angle-closure glaucoma and congenital glaucoma. (Source: https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/glaucoma).
What are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?
In the beginning stages, glaucoma doesn’t typically present symptoms. Over time, one may slowly lose vision, usually starting with the peripheral vision. Because the progression happens slowly, many people don’t notice initial decrease in vision. As the disease worsens one may start to notice objects off to the side aren’t visible anymore. Without treatment, glaucoma may eventually lead to blindness.
What is the Treatment for Glaucoma?
Doctors use different types of treatment for glaucoma, including prescription eye drops, laser treatment, and surgery. For individuals with glaucoma, it’s important to start treatment right away. Treatment won’t undo any damage to vision, but it can stop the disease from progressing. (Source: https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/glaucoma).
The Best Diet for Glaucoma
According to a study published online by JAMA Ophthalmology, greater intake of dietary nitrate and green leafy vegetables was associated with a 20 percent to 30 percent lower risk of primary open-angle glaucoma. Below are many of the recommended nutrients recommended for maintaining a healthy diet. (Source: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2015.5601)
Source: Jae H. Kang, Walter C. Willett, Bernard A. Rosner, Emmanuel Buys, Janey L. Wiggs, Louis R. Pasquale. Association of Dietary Nitrate Intake With Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma. JAMA Ophthalmology, 2016.
Daily Nutrient Recommendation for Glaucoma
The recommendation of 1.5 cups per day of leafy green vegetables (about 10 servings per week) was shown in studies to have the greatest influence in reducing primary open-angle glaucoma risk. Top food sources for the ideal glaucoma diet include romaine lettuce, kale, mustard, chard, and raw and cooked spinach. Source: Source: Jae H. Kang, Walter C. Willett, Bernard A. Rosner, Emmanuel Buys, Janey L. Wiggs, Louis R. Pasquale. Association of Dietary Nitrate Intake With Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma. JAMA Ophthalmology, 2016.
Foods High In Antioxidants
What is Vitamin C and What Does It Do?
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble nutrient found in many fruits and vegetables. In the body, it acts as an antioxidant, and helps to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are the compounds formed when our bodies convert the food we eat into energy. Individuals are also exposed to free radicals in the environment from cigarette smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet light from the sun. The body also uses vitamin C to make collagen, a protein required to help wounds heal. In addition, vitamin C improves the absorption of iron from plant-based foods and helps the immune system protect the body from disease.
What Foods Provide Vitamin C?
Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin C. You can get recommended amounts of vitamin C by eating a variety of foods including:
- Citrus fruits (such as oranges and grapefruit) and their juices, as well as red and green pepper and kiwifruit.
- Other fruits and vegetables—such as broccoli, strawberries, cantaloupe, baked potatoes, and tomatoes.
- Some foods and beverages that are fortified with vitamin C (check nutrition labels).
The vitamin C content of food may be reduced by prolonged storage and cooking. Many of the best food sources of vitamin C, such as fruits and vegetables, are usually eaten raw.
- The recommended daily amount of vitamin C is 90 milligrams for adult men and 75 milligrams for adult women.
What is Vitamin E and What Does It Do?
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient found in many foods. In the body, it acts as an antioxidant, and helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are compounds formed when our bodies convert the food we eat into energy. Individuals are also exposed to free radicals in the environment from cigarette smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet light from the sun.
Our bodies need vitamin E to boost its immune system so that it can fight off invading bacteria and viruses. It helps to widen blood vessels and keep blood from clotting within them. In addition, cells use vitamin E to interact with each other and to carry out many important functions.
What Foods Provide Vitamin E?
Vitamin E is found naturally in foods and is added to some fortified foods. You can get recommended amounts of vitamin E by eating a variety of foods including the following:
- Vegetable oils like wheat germ, sunflower, and safflower oils are among the best sources of vitamin E. Corn and soybean oils also provide some vitamin E.
- Nuts (such as peanuts, hazelnuts, and, especially, almonds) and seeds (like sunflower seeds) are also among the best sources of vitamin E.
- Green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli, provide some vitamin E.
- Food companies add vitamin E to some breakfast cereals, fruit juices, margarines and spreads, and other foods. To find out which ones have vitamin E, check the product labels.
The recommended daily amount of vitamin E for adults is 15 milligrams a day.
- Vegetable oils (wheat germ oil is especially rich in vitamin E)
- Wheat and other cereal grains
- Green leafy vegetables
- Egg yolk
- Milk fat
- Organ Meats
What is Vitamin A and What Does It Do?
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in many foods. Vitamin A is important for normal vision, the immune system, and reproduction. Vitamin A also helps the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs work properly.
There are two different types of vitamin A. The first type, preformed vitamin A, is found in meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products. The second type, provitamin A, is found in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based products. The most common type of provitamin A in foods and dietary supplements is beta-carotene.
Vitamin A is found naturally in many foods and is added to some foods (including milk and cereal). You can get recommended amounts of vitamin A by eating a variety of foods, including the following:
- Beef liver and other organ meats (but these foods are also high in cholesterol, so limit the amount you eat).
- Some types of fish, such as salmon.
- Green leafy vegetables and other green, orange, and yellow vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, and squash.
- Fruits, including cantaloupe, apricots, and mangos.
- Dairy products, which are among the major sources of vitamin A for Americans.
- Fortified breakfast cereals.
What is Zinc and What Does It Do?
Zinc is a nutrient that people need to stay healthy. Zinc is found in cells throughout the body. It helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses. The body also needs zinc to make proteins and DNA, the genetic material in all cells. During pregnancy, infancy, and childhood, the body needs zinc to grow and develop properly. Zinc also helps wounds heal and is important for proper senses of taste and smell.
Zinc is found in a wide variety of foods. Recommended amounts of zinc may be consumed by eating a variety of foods including the following:
- Oysters, which are the best source of zinc.
- Red meat, poultry, seafood such as crab and lobsters, and fortified breakfast cereals, which are also good sources of zinc.
- Beans, nuts, whole grains, and dairy products, which provide some zinc.
- Lean meat
- Green leafy vegetables
- Whole Bran
- Whole cereals
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
What is Lutein and Zeaxanthin?
Lutein and Zeaxanthin are both are important organic pigments called carotenoids, lutein perhaps the more well-known of the two. Lutein is related to beta-carotene and vitamin A. Many people think of lutein as “the eye vitamin.” Lutein is one of two major carotenoids found in the human eye (macula and retina). It is thought to function as a light filter, protecting the eye tissues from sunlight damage. Foods rich in lutein include egg yolks, spinach, kale, corn, orange pepper, kiwi fruit, grapes, zucchini, and squash. Lutein is commonly taken by mouth to prevent eye diseases, including cataracts and a disease that leads to vision loss in older adults (age-related macular degeneration or AMD). Lutein is used for many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these other uses.
What Dose of Lutein Is Used?
Lutein is found in many foods, including egg yolks, spinach, kale, corn, orange pepper, kiwi fruit, grapes, zucchini, and squash. There’s 44 mg of lutein in one cup of cooked kale, 26 mg per cup of cooked spinach, and 3 mg per cup of broccoli.
Lutein is also taken in supplements. It’s most often been used by adults in doses of 10-20 mg by mouth daily, for up to 3 years. Many multivitamins contain lutein. They usually provide a relatively small amount, such as 0.25 mg per tablet. Lutein is absorbed best when it’s taken with a high-fat meal. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what type of product or dose might be best for a specific condition. Article on the Top 10 lutein packed foods to increase your visual fitness.
- Collard greens
- Parsley (not dried)
- Green peas
- Brussels sprouts
- Summer squash
- Green beans
- Green peppers
- Green olives
What is a Dietary Supplement?
As defined by Congress in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, which became law in 1994, a dietary supplement is a product (other than tobacco) that is intended to supplement the diet; contains one or more dietary ingredients (including vitamins; minerals; herbs or other botanicals; amino acids; and other substances) or their constituents; is intended to be taken by mouth as a pill, capsule, tablet, or liquid; and is labeled on the front panel as being a dietary supplement.
Are Dietary Supplements Different From Foods and Drugs?
Although dietary supplements are regulated by the FDA as foods, they are regulated differently from other foods and from drugs. Whether a product is classified as a dietary supplement, conventional food, or drug is based on its intended use. Most often, classification as a dietary supplement is determined by the information that the manufacturer provides on the product label or in accompanying literature, although many food and dietary supplement product labels do not include this information.
The types of claims that can be made on the labels of dietary supplements and drugs differ. Drug manufacturers may claim that their product will diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent a disease. Such claims may not legally be made for dietary supplements.
The label of a dietary supplement or food product may contain one of three types of claims
: a health claim, nutrient content claim, or structure/function claim. Health claims describe a relationship between a food, food component, or dietary supplement ingredient, and reducing risk of a disease or health-related condition. Nutrient content claims describe the relative amount of a nutrient or dietary substance in a product. A structure/function claim is a statement describing how a product may affect the organs or systems of the body and it can not mention any specific disease. Structure/function claims do not require FDA approval but the manufacturer must provide FDA with the text of the claim within 30 days of putting the product on the market. Product labels containing such claims must also include a disclaimer that reads, “This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”
How Does FDA Regulate Dietary Supplements?
In addition to regulating label claims, FDA regulates dietary supplements in other ways. Supplement ingredients sold in the United States before October 15, 1994, are not required to be reviewed by FDA for their safety before they are marketed because they are presumed to be safe based on their history of use by humans. For a new dietary ingredient (one not sold as a dietary supplement before 1994) the manufacturer must notify FDA of its intent to market a dietary supplement containing the new dietary ingredient and provide information on how it determined that reasonable evidence exists for safe human use of the product. FDA can either refuse to allow new ingredients into or remove existing ingredients from the marketplace for safety reasons.
Unlike drug products, there are no provisions in the law for FDA to “approve” dietary supplements for safety or effectiveness before they reach the consumer. Once a dietary supplement is marketed, FDA has to prove that the product is not safe in order to restrict its use or remove it from the market. In contrast, before being allowed to market a drug product, manufacturers must obtain FDA approval by providing convincing evidence that it is both safe and effective.
The label of a dietary supplement product is required to be truthful and not misleading. If the label does not meet this requirement, FDA may remove the product from the marketplace or take other appropriate actions
Eye Vitamins and Supplements for Glaucoma and Healthy Vision
Many people are able to maintain a balanced nutrition intake incorporating the above 1 and a half cups of green leafy vegetables and nutrients into their daily routine. For those who prefer to obtain their intake equivalent to 1.5 cups of leafy greens through vitamins or supplements, some great options are listed below.
- Vita Balance Lutenol
Nutritional Vision Support
A formulated mix of high-quality vitamins, minerals, herbal extracts and carotenoids, Lutenol by Vita Balance is designed to provide support for eye function and health. The Lutenol formula is closely aligned to scientific research carried out by the National Eye Institute, and is as applicable to healthy aging eyes as it is to healthy younger eyes.
- Jae H. Kang, Walter C. Willett, Bernard A. Rosner, Emmanuel Buys, Janey L. Wiggs, Louis R. Pasquale. Association of Dietary Nitrate Intake With Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma. JAMA Ophthalmology, 2016; 1 DOI: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2015.5601