Why Vitamin E is Important for Your Eye Health
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When taken in the correct quantities, Vitamin E can have significant benefits to your eye health, reducing the risk of conditions such as age-related macular degeneration.
Vitamin E & eye health
Vitamin E does a number of things. It helps the body to form red blood cells, it improves immune function and it allows the cells to communicate with each other.
It also helps the body to stop free radicals, and when it comes to your eyes, this is where vitamin E really comes into its own.
So what are free radicals, and why are they so bad?
Free radicals are produced when the body comes into contact with harmful substances such as cigarette smoke and air pollution.
They can also arise as a result of exposure to ultraviolet rays, and as a by-product of the process in which the body turns food into energy.
In very basic terms, they are unstable atoms that move around the body looking for an electron to pair with. While doing so, they cause damage to the cells, which in turn can lead to illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and eye disease.
And where does vitamin E fit into all of this?
Well, vitamin E is an antioxidant. With enough vitamin E, your body can stop the chain reaction that ultimately results in the formation of a free radical.
This will help prevent otherwise healthy tissue around your body (including your eyes) from being damaged.
Vitamin E eye health benefits
More specifically, research suggests that vitamin E can help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
This was confirmed in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study, which found that when taken alongside other supplements, a certain amount of vitamin E helped to slow the onset of age-related macular degeneration by 25%.
Image by BruceBlaus via Wikipendia Commons
Age-related macular degeneration is when your central vision deteriorates, meaning that when you focus straight ahead, you cannot see as well. Reading may be difficult, colours may be less vivid, and it may harder to recognise faces.
It happens when cells in the macula (which is the part of the eye responsible for central vision) are damaged.
Some studies have also found that vitamin E can help reduce the risk of cataracts, although others disagree. Cataracts happen when the lens of the eye becomes less clear, meaning light cannot pass through it.
This results in cloudy vision. Cataracts are typically associated with age.
Where to get Vitamin E
So while more research may be needed, the data so far shows that there are certainly some vitamin E eye health benefits.
But here’s the thing – your body doesn’t produce its own vitamin E. We can only get it from the food that we eat.
If you eat and healthy and balanced diet, it’s possible that you’re already getting your recommended daily allowance of vitamin E.
Foods high in vitamin E include wheat germ, almonds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, avocado, pine nuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, vegetables oils and mango.
If you can’t get enough vitamin E through your diet alone, you can always take vitamin supplements. There are many different brands to choose from, such as Nature’s Bounty, Webber Naturals and Solgar.
And exactly how much vitamin E should you be looking to consume?
The answer to this depends on a number of factors. Generally, it’s recommended that when sourcing your vitamin E from natural ingredients, a healthy person aged 14 or over consume 22 International Units (IU) per day.
This rises to 33 International Units (IU) per day when sourcing your vitamin E from supplements
Consult an expert on vitamin E & eye health
However, before upping your vitamin E intake, you should always consult a medical practitioner first.
This is because too much vitamin E can actually be harmful, particularly if you are suffering from certain diseases, or taking blood-thinning medication.
Vitamin E naturally thins the blood, so if you’re already taking medication such as aspirin, your ability to form blood clots could be hindered.
It’s also best to visit an optometrist before attempting to self-medicate for any eye-related conditions.
An optometrist will be able to assess your eye health and detect any issues. You will then be advised on the most appropriate course of treatment. This will be tailored to you, with factors such as your age and health all being taken into consideration.
So if you feel that your vision is deteriorating, or that you might be developing an eye condition such as age-related macular degeneration, it’s important to book an eye exam earlier rather than later.
This will ensure that you get the treatment needed to slow the progression of the condition and improve your quality of life.