Sharp Eyesight Thanks to Proper Nutrients

By Communipower Wolfgang Zoell, PRNE
Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Current Research: Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Omega-3 Fatty Acids are Essential for Keeping Eyes Healthy. Nutritional Supplements are Recommended at an Older Age.

FRANKFURT, November 25, 2010 - Who wouldn't want sharp and clear vision for a lifetime? Those who do
should take several specific micronutrients. A current scientific review
article has confirmed that an optimal supply of the carotenoids lutein and
zeaxanthin, as well as the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, is essential for
keeping our eyes healthy. The authors emphasise the potential of these
nutrients for protection of the retinal cells and the prevention and
treatment of age-related degenerative eye diseases, such as macular
degeneration (AMD) in the elderly. Additionally, the European Food Safety
Authority (EFSA) recently asserted that taking a dose of 250 milligrams of
the omega-3 fatty acid DHA each day, can make an important contribution
towards maintaining vision. It is generally difficult to ensure an adequate
supply of the aforementioned micronutrients in one's diet, particularly at an
older age. For seniors, a risk group, experts recommend an appropriate dosage
of food supplements of a similar composition.

Lutein and zeaxanthin play an especially important role in eye function:
Both carotenoids form the pigment of the macula ("yellow spot") in the centre
of the retina. The macula is responsible for sharp vision. Just like
"internal sunglasses," both micronutrients filter out damaging blue light
from the sun and UV light. This leads to improved contrast sensitivity and
reduced susceptibility to glare, according to scientists. Moreover, both
substances keep the retina healthy due to their anti-oxidative, or
cytoprotective, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Lutein and zeaxanthin against macula degeneration

The macula pigment breaks down throughout one's life, however, and the
function degenerates due to various influences, such as UV light or prolonged
computer work. This process - age conditional macula degeneration (AMD) - is
insidious and painless. Normally, reading becomes difficult at some point
because grey shadows appear in the middle of the text and distort the
letters. AMD can lead to blindness and, at 50%, is the most common cause for
severe visual impairment in Germany. About 20% of 65-74 year olds suffer from
an early form of AMD. A basic differentiation is made between the most common
yet treatable "dry" form of AMD and the less common, aggressive "wet" form,
which is incurable and can develop from the "dry" form.

All studies have confirmed that preventing AMD depends on a sufficient
storage of lutein and zeaxanthin as pigment in the macula. For "dry" AMD,
balancing deficits of these carotenoids through diet and supplements improves
the vision of those affected. It is therefore important to maintain an
adequate supply of lutein and zeaxanthin, researchers say.

Omega-3 fatty acids protect the retina

The omega-3 fatty acids alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid
(EPA) and docasehexaenoic acid (DHA) are long-chain, polyunsaturated fatty
acids. EPA and DHA are important building blocks for cell membranes and are
essential for cell growth and regeneration. They also make many contributions
to eye health. DHA plays an especially important role in the retina. It keeps
the cell membranes flexible (fluidity), which is a vital cell function. It
also supports rhodopsin formation and activity, which is a component of
"visual purple" in the rod cells (photoreceptors)of the eye's retina and is
important for light and dark perception. At the same time, DHA can protect
the photoreceptors from "biological cell death" (apoptosis) by oxidative
stress. Another protective mechanism of the omega-3 fatty acids could be
based on anti-inflammatory characters, such as the formation of
anti-inflammatory active substances.

Adequate supply of micronutrients, even using supplementation

The macula pigment density (MPD) is dependent on dietary supply and can
be enhanced through an increased intake of lutein and zeaxanthin. Kale,
spinach, broccoli, lamb's lettuce and corn are good sources of both
carotenoids. On average, we ingest 0.5 - 2 mg of lutein and about 0.2 - 1.8
mg of zeaxanthin every day. 10 mg of lutein is recommended daily for
prevention or dietary treatment of eye diseases such as AMD. Up to 20 mg of
lutein daily is considered safe.

We obtain most of our omega-3 fatty acids from rich sea fish. The
recommended intake is currently being discussed internationally and is
somewhere between 100 mg and 1 gram per day. Up to 3 grams a day is
considered safe. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently stated
that a 250 mg daily dose of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA is an important
component in maintaining normal vision.

When one considers Germany's average fruit, vegetable and fish
consumption (which needs to be improved greatly), it becomes clear that for
many, especially older people, it is not easy to achieve the recommended
daily intake values of the aforementioned micronutrients. Consequently, the
experts recommend that older people take food supplements with these
substances in nutritive doses. This generally means an amount that would be
reached through an appropriate targeted food selection and amount.

Reprint free of charge - copy requested


Schweigert FJ, Reimann J: Micronutrients and their importance
to the eye - Effects of lutein/zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids.
On-line publication Klin Monatsbl Augenheilkd 28 May 2010 DOI:

European Food Safety Authority (EFSA): Scientific Opinion
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) related health claims
EFSA Journal 2010;8(10):1734


    CommuniPoweR Wolfgang Zöll
    Lisa Loewenthal
    Tel: +49(0)69-6950-905-60

Contact: CommuniPoweR Wolfgang Zöll, Lisa Loewenthal, Tel: +49(0)69-6950-905-60, info at

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