August 2010 As the US population ages, loss of vision due to age-related macular degeneration and cataracts will be on the rise. A study published in the 2009 edition of Ophthalmology found that a low-glycemic diet and specific nutrients had a protective effect against oxidized proteins implicated in both of these conditions. Especially important are C, E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin and DHA and EPA- both omega 3 fatty acids.
August 2010 A small study of 70 patients with at least 2 cardiovascular risk factors were given either supplements of vitamins C and E, selenium and coenzyme Q10 or placebo for 6 months. Those in the supplemented group improved HDL levels, blood pressure, A1C and elasticity of both small and larger blood vessels. Published online July 6, 2010 in Nutrition & Metabolism.
September 2010 Age-related macula degeneration or AMD will increase as baby boomers get older. The incidence of AMD is predicted to triple in the next 15 years. Loss of central vision is caused by the yellow pigment in the macula of the eye decreasing as a part of the ageing process. The yellow pigment in the macula comes from lutein and zeaxanthin derived from diet. These carotenoids filter blue light that can damage cells. Both of these nutrients are thought to be carried to the macula via HDL cholesterol.
Foods high in lutein include egg yolk, kale, spinach, tomato, collard greens, red pepper and broccoli. Lightly cooking these foods break down the cell walls increasing utilization. Since lutein is a fat soluble nutrient these foods should be eaten with fat to ensure absorption. Low carb food sources of zeaxanthin are kale, turnip or collard greens, orange peppers and spinach.
These nutrients can also be helpful for cataracts.
Omega 3 fatty acids are important to eye health. The theory is that a deficiency of fatty acid intake negatively effects cell renewal in the retina. Be sure to eat your fatty fish and/or take your supplements.
August 2011 The Journal of Neuroscience recently reported a study using goldfish retinas. The study found that Vitamin C can have not just important positive effects on the retina but probably on the whole brain. Keep in mind that goldfish retinas are quite similar to our retinas, which are part of the brain.
The results suggest that retinal cells need to be bathed in high doses of C. The receptors in the retina and the brain that modulate communication to other brain cells lose proper functioning when Vitamin C levels drop.
It is noted that when Vitamin C deprivation occurs, the brain is the last place to give up its Vitamin C stores.
Note that scurvy is the deficiency disease caused by a lack of Vitamin C and depression is one of its symptoms