Omega 3s for Eye and Brain Health
Posted by: Jackie McKenzie, RD, Posted Date: May 11, 2012
In the age of computers and hand held technology your eyes are constantly focusing on the small screen while your mind tries to process the endless amount of information that is sent your way. Whether is it the 100 emails flashing in your inbox that morning or the important report that is due by noon, many are overdosed with screen time. Would vitamins help to combat this constant eye strain? Is there something you could take to remember your “to do” list? Looking through the studies that examined eye and brain health there was a common theme – nutrition is important.
The Nutrition Part – Omega 3s, Vitamins A,B,C,D and E
Good nutrition keeps the eyesight in focus and your brain sharp. While the benefits of omega 3 fats for mental development in infancy is often reported, a 2012 study published in Neurology also found that a diet lacking in omega 3 fatty acids as we get older may cause your brain to age faster and lose some of its memory and thinking abilities. Add this to the fact that older people with higher concentrations of vitamins B,C,D, and E in their bloodstream have been shown to have better mental functioning, it reminds us that good nutrition is always important when your brain is involved.
Worried about your eyes? Research has shown that while vitamin A is required for normal vision, vitamins B,C,E, beta-carotene and lutein may help to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (a leading cause of blindness in the elderly). Further studies show that vitamin C lowers the risk of developing cataracts and that omega 3 fatty acids may help protect eyes from retinal degeneration and ease the discomfort of dry eyes. When you start to tally up all of these important nutrients – vitamins A,B,C,D,E, lutein and omega 3 – they all provide some benefit.
What to do? Add bright coloured fruits and vegetables to meals and snacks, stick with whole grain choices, add nuts and seeds to your breakfast cereal, include eggs in your weekly meal planning and up your intake of fattier fish and vitamin D enriched foods. If you are still not meeting your nutrient needs then consider adding a good multivitamin, vitamin D or omega 3 supplement to your daily routine like Adult Essentials.
The Fresh Air Fix – Get Outside
And it’s not just vitamins that keep your eyes and brain healthy. Research from the University of Sydney has shown that children need 10-14 hours per week of sunlight to decrease their chance of short sightedness (myopia). The message? Shut down the screen and get you and your kids outside for a good dose of vitamin D enriched sunshine and healthy activity. Cardiovascular activity, like walking, has been shown to increase blood circulation as well as oxygen and glucose that reach your brain. A study of 6000 women found that walking decreased age-related memory loss and other declines in mental function. Cardiovascular activity has numerous benefits for all. Grab your kids and your sneakers and see who can get to the park first after lunch. It’s a good excuse to ignore, not forget, your “to do” list today.