Every day, our eyes perform at their best: their complex structure and sensitivity enable us to see well. But from about the age of 40 years, the natural vision begins to age slowly for most of us. Therefore, we should prevent in time to support the preservation of vision. It is important to avoid harmful effects and to provide the eyes with the necessary micronutrients - especially those that the body does not make itself, such as the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.
Strain on the eyes in everyday life
Hours of driving in the dark or working on the computer screen often overwork our eyes. By timely pauses we can provide for a recovery of the eyes.
In addition, we should protect them from intense sunlight with sunglasses. Because UV rays can cause aggressive chemical substances in the eye that damage our retina.
Food for the eye: vitamins and carotenoids
The eye protects itself from the aggressive chemical compounds - so-called free radicals - by using special micronutrients such as the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. Carotenoids are plant precursors of vitamin A and offer the eye a double protection. First, they sit in front of the sensitive retina like an "inner sunglass" and filter out the harmful rays.
If UV or other rays have penetrated the eye and free radicals have been formed, the second protective mechanism works: The micronutrients function as "radical scavengers" by binding the free radicals and rendering them harmless.
Why the eyesight diminishes in old age
With increasing age, however, the double protection due to filtering and radical scavenging subsides. The reason for this is that less micronutrients are present and their activity also decreases. The risk of the eyes' natural vision diminishing increases.
How can one support the sight?
So that the health of our eyes is protected and preserved, we should provide them regularly and adequately with the necessary nutrients. If you eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, depending on the degree of freshness and the form of preparation, enough of the micronutrients is consumed.
However, these amounts can not always be realized in everyday life. In this case, dietary supplements are an alternative. These allow a regular supply of the required micronutrients.
Beta Carotene (Vitamin A) for a good view
For proper functioning of our eyes important nutrients are needed. Even as a child we were always told that carrots are good for the eyes. One of the key ingredients of carrot is beta-carotene. It can be converted by the body into vitamin A when needed, that's why it is also called provitamin A.
Vitamin A is mainly responsible for seeing in the dark. A deficiency can lead to night blindness. Vitamin A is found only in animal products such as liver, whole milk and egg yolks.
Which foods contain beta-carotene?
Beta-carotene is especially included in the following foods:
- green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and broccoli
- sweet potatoes
- Red pepper
However, the content of beta-carotene in food varies and depends on storage times, season, degree of ripeness and preparation.
Tips for preparing food with beta-carotene
When cooking, make sure that you use fresh vegetables and prepare them in a vitamin-friendly way, such as steaming. Finely chopped vegetables are better for the cooking process than larger pieces or leaves.
Since vitamin A is one of the fat-soluble vitamins, do not forget to use some fat when cooking. Cold-pressed oils (corn oil, safflower or rapeseed oil) with a high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids are best suited.
The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin belong to the group of carotenoids and are found in high concentration in our retina. They have antioxidant properties and protect our eyes from free radicals.
Lutein and zeaxanthin give certain fruits and vegetables such as paprikas their bright colors. But green vegetables also contain carotenoids. In this case, however, these are covered by the chlorophyll. Kale in particular has a high content of lutein, while zeaxanthin occurs mainly in maize.
Foods with lutein and zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin can not be produced by the human body itself, so we need to absorb it through our diet. Lutein is the fastest absorbed of all carotenoids by the body.
These foods contain lots of lutein and zeaxanthin:
- green vegetables like kale and peas
- Blueberries, raspberries
To ensure the best possible intake of lutein and zeaxanthin, vegetables should be gently prepared with a little oil. However, it should not be consumed with extra fiber as it blocks the absorption of lutein.