11 Best Vitamins for Dry Eyes, Macular Degeneration, and Eye Health
Whenever you can eat a vitamin or mineral in a whole foods diet it is a much better option than taking a supplement. A supplement is there to do just as the name suggests... supplement, or enhance something else when added to it. You should take supplements as an addition to an already healthy diet, and this is what we're going to dive into with this article.
The world of supplements can be very confusing. There are supplements for weight loss, diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, sex drive, dry eye, and pretty much everything else under the sun. The goal of this guide is to point you in the right direction as to what is needed to live a full balanced diet. Stay away from the gimmicky supplements for weight loss, fat burning, and other “in the moment” supplements your friends or coworkers tell you about.
Supplements are not a well regulated industry and should be cautiously approached. Pretty much anyone can package, label, and sell a supplement on the market today. Look on the label or ask the company if they are third party tested, pass clinical good manufacturing practices (cGMP), and are manufactured in an FDA registered facility. All products should undergo rigorous testing before, during, and after production. Third party testing should be performed to ensure that all supplements contain the specified ingredients and avoid unwanted chemicals, toxins, and materials.
Which Vitamins are Good For Dry Eyes?
We constantly asked which supplements we recommend for [fill in the blank]. In this article, we’re going to talk about the benefits of supplements that you should be taking and whole foods ways of taking them.
Multivitamins are one of the most common vitamins taken in the world today, and we believe that everyone should be taking a multivitamin. But which one to take is the big question. Drones of individuals turn to this “one pill” in order to “keep themselves healthy.” Like we discussed previously, though, supplements are made to complement an already healthy lifestyle. And also as discussed earlier, not all supplements are created equal.
Multivitamins are meant to be the filler for what you miss in your everyday diet. For the most part, your body will excrete any excess vitamins and minerals it does not need. I am guessing you need this bridge to get all your nutrients, since 75% of people worldwide don’t get their five daily servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and five is still too low in my mind (gotta love green smoothies!) Multivitamins will help where your diet falls short and will help increase eye health, bone health, and blood health (preventing things like anemia), as well as a possible connection to heart disease and cancer.
Taking a once daily pill might not be the most beneficial vitamin, as it is heavily compacted and hard to digest and get all the nutrients out of that pellet. Instead, I like to opt for a multivitamin that is in gel or liquid form. I personally take this vitamin in the morning with my green smoothie. We love and take Passion 4 Life Liquid Multivitaminfor its abundance of minerals and vitamins and the absorption rate that this liquid vitamin has. Click here to check price and purchase.
If you couldn’t tell by now, we love our greens. A green smoothie has been one of the most beneficial staples and additions to our diet since we started it in 2015. We have also seen the huge impact that this has had on our patients and customers in the dry eye community. The green smoothie that we make every morning, and sometimes for lunch, contains kale, spinach, or other greens (we also sometimes add a greens superfood powder to our smoothie, in addition to our leafy greens).
A greens powder will give you a massive boost in energy, metabolism, immune support, and detox your entire system. The energy comes without the crash that coffee or sugary soft drinks give you. The blend of fruits and vegetables gives you a potent boost of micronutrients that are absorbed quickly. They also support your immune system and help with detoxification through vitamins and minerals. Greens will help you focus better than ever before and give you a better attitude.
It also isn’t just for your smoothies. You can mix it with only water and take it for a quick greens kick on the go. Or you can even put a scoop in oatmeal, yogurt, soups, or any other dishes you are making.
Something to note is that when you first start using a greens powder, or start eating your green smoothies, you will go through three phases in the first month or so. I call this my 21 day greens adjustment period. The first seven days you might have unbearable stomach pain, gas, constipation, diarrhea, and nausea. Sounds fun right? However, push through!
Days seven through 14 will be uncomfortable. You may notice some stomach irritation and bloating, but nothing too extreme. Your bowel movements will start to become more regular and you will start going at almost the same time everyday, without the help of coffee and caffeine.
After day 14, you become unstoppable. Your body will crave whatever you feed it. Feed it pizza and chips daily and you will crave and eat pizza and chips daily. Feed it broccoli daily and you will crave broccoli. After day 14 you will begin to crave your greens and need them on a daily basis.
Leaky gut and healthy bacteria have been talked about quite a bit lately, with good merit. The bacteria in our gut is so beneficial for helping us absorb nutrients, digest food, and fight infection. Probiotics can also help with diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies, and even urinary tract infections.
You can get healthy probiotics by supplementation and by eating fermented foods such as kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, or fermented vegetables (like refrigerated sauerkraut). When supplementing, you want to find a high quality supplement that contains billions of live cultures and take this supplement first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that enhances healthy vision, skin, bones and other tissues in the body. Vitamin A performs as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent and plays an important role in the preservation of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other vital organs. Maintaining a healthy balance of vitamin A is essential to good health.
The American diet keeps most Americans from experiencing vitamin A deficiency. However, some health problems and lack of nutrients in our meals and snacks can lead to low levels of vitamin A and other nutrients, and some people are more prone to vitamin A deficiency than others. A vitamin A deficiency is directly linked to dry eyes. Cutting back on food to slim down is usually how most people develop a vitamin A deficiency, and it is more prevalent in undeveloped countries.
The surface of your eye has a clear lubricating substance called the tear film that nourishes and protects your eye. Vitamin A deficiency can cause cell mutations within the cornea below it, disturbing the tear film and resulting in dry, irritated eyes. You may experience surface irritation, redness, and moments of blurred vision. Long-term deficiency may also cause damage to the retina, which contributes to vision changes and can lead to vision loss.
Fixing a vitamin A deficit is pretty simple...eat more whole foods with vitamin A and take a multivitamin with vitamin A in it.
There has been some effort to add vitamin A to eye drops in order to have a quicker effect on dry eyes. But, as of yet, there isn't much evidence that suggests that this actually works.
Speaking of vitamin A, there are derivatives such as retinoids that can actually worsen dry eyes if used in large doses (think Accutane and over-the-counter retinol skin creams). Avoid these at all costs.
Animal Food Sources High in Vitamin A
Eating foods rich in vitamin A can help to prevent dry eyes or alleviate them as long as the damage to your eye is minimal. Incorporating some of the following foods could help increase your intake of vitamin A. Animal food sources are not water-soluble and are stored in body fat. Therefore, overconsumption of vitamin A through animal food sources can become toxic, so be careful with the following!
Also make sure that, if you choose to eat these meat sources, they are organic, grass-fed sources.
Plant Sources High in Vitamin A
Plant sources are not stored in body fat and are therefore less problematic. The following plant-based foods are rich in vitamin A and are wonderful for treating dry eyes.
Cayenne pepper or chili powder
Vitamin A is a key nutrient to optimal vision and general health. Be sure to intake the amount you need without over doing the animal sources, or, even better, stick with the plant sources and make sure your multivitamin has vitamin A in it.
The B-Complex of vitamins are antioxidants, mood stabilizing, and neuroprotective. Methylated versions of vitamin B supplements should be used, such as folate instead of folic acid, because the nutrient is used by the body instead of broken down. In addition to this, many people are unable to properly metabolize folic acid in that form.
Low Vitamin B6 is associated with inflammation, according to WebMD. This can be found naturally in legumes and vegetables. Studies show that people with the highest inflammation have the lowest levels of vitamin B6 in their blood. Your body excretes any excess B vitamins, therefore it is never retained.
Most people are actually vitamin D deficient. It is not found in the food we eat in as much abundance as before, and we do not get as much sunshine as we used to. Exposure to the sun will help your vitamin D deficiency, but it will probably not completely resolve it, even in areas that have loads of sunshine all year long. Eating whole foods with vitamin D also helps, but supplementation with vitamin D is usually recommended. Foods to eat include:
Fortified almond milk
Supplementation is almost always recommended if you are vitamin D deficient. The recommended daily amount to take is 800 IUs, according to the National Institute of Health, but most can take up to 4,000 IU safely. As with any new supplement, discuss your intake with your doctor.
Vitamin D has been shown to inhibit the inflammatory cascade, therefore reducing inflammation. Vitamin D helps with calcium and phosphorus absorption therefore a deficiency can show up as bone disease such as rickets and osteoporosis. Vitamin D deficiency is also a known cause for dry eyes. Lower quantities of vitamin D effect tear function that needs vitamins to function properly. Other than that, Vitamin D improves the coating on the surface of the eye and helps to protect it from environmental factors.
Antioxidants: Vitamins C and E
Free radicals are found abundantly in the body. Free radicals wreak havoc on our body causing cancer, macular degeneration, inflammation, dry eye, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses. Our body can fight free radicals on their own, but with the help of antioxidants the battle is supercharged.
The best way to increase antioxidants is through whole foods, such as colorful vegetables like red, yellow, and orange peppers, carrots, kale, spinach, and pretty much any vegetable.
Vitamin C plays a vital role in relieving inflammation, boosting your immune system, and protecting your joints. Your body excretes any excess vitamin C therefore it is never retained. Vitamin E helps prevent symptoms of dry eye, macular degeneration, cataracts, and damage to the eye from diabetes. It also helps with heart disease, mental decline, menopause symptoms, and some cancers. Vitamin E should always be in its d-alpha form. Anything else is synthetic and does nothing for you.
Magnesium is one of the most essential minerals needed by the body, yet it is the most lacking mineral in the human diet. Unfortunately with the current farming practices, it has been stripped from the soil so much that we now need to supplement. A study of almost 4,000 postmenopausal women shows that 100 mg of magnesium per day was associated with a significant reduction in various inflammatory markers.
Magnesium deficiency can lead to neurological malfunction, irregular heart rhythm, macular degeneration, weak bones, and muscle cramping and spasms. Magnesium is a vital part of your diet and needs to be prioritized as one of the most essential minerals that you need to function.
A good way to help replace essential minerals is supplementation with magnesium glycinate chelate or a magnesium oil spray. Another way is replacing all the table salt in your house with Celtic Sea Salt, which contains 82 trace minerals.
Nuts and vegetables are also a great way to increase your essential minerals consumption. Some of these foods include:
Spinach and kale
Cabbage and brussel sprouts
Supplementation can take many forms with magnesium such as a pill, liquid, spray, or powder form. To make it more readily absorbed in the body, magnesium should be coupled with a chelator (bound to an amino acid) and in a form such as magnesium glycinate.
Omega-3 is a fatty acid that should be a core part of your diet. The American diet consists of way too many unhealthy omega-6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3 fatty acids.
Having a healthy level of omega-3can prevent a long list of severe diseases as well. Things like prostate cancer, mental degeneration, heart attack, strokes, epilepsy, insomnia, joint pain, and vision loss can sometimes be prevented with omega-3 supplementation.
There are two ways to treat an omega-3 deficiency. The first is by including oily fish in your daily diet. Fish eat algae to obtain a certain acid called Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which is the most commonly known omega-3 fatty acid.
However, there might be some of you that don't like fish. If you dislike fish, you should move on to the second way of obtaining this important omega; omega-3 supplements. Look for an omega-3 supplement that is triglyceride based and has other added nutrients to help with dry eyes. We make one called Heyedrate Omega 3 for Eye Health, which is third party tested and sustainably sourced.
How much omega-3 is recommended?
While there are varied studies that say anywhere from 500 mg all the way up to 4,000 mg per day, I think the real answer is that it depends. It depends on how healthy you are and how healthy your diet is. If you eat a lot of processed junk food, then your unhealthy omega-6 is going to be much higher and therefore you need to take closer to the 4,000 mg of omega-3 per day. Conversely if you are a pretty healthy individual that does not eat a lot of processed, unhealthy omega-6 then you can do 1,000 mg to 2,000 mg per day.
We recommend most of our patients start out at 2,000 mg per day for the first few months as they are adjusting their diet, and then they can reduce to 1,000 mg per day. Talk with your doctor about the right dose for you.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss for those who are over the age of 60 in the United States. Studies show that exposure to smoking, UV rays, and obesity may increase the risk of AMD, and it seems to be more prevalent in Caucasians than in other races. It has genetic links and is also more common among women than men.
The long-term Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS and AREDS 2), conducted by the National Eye Institute, discovered that when supplementing a diet with a few critical vitamins and nutrients, the risk of developing macular degeneration was reduced. For those with intermediate macular degeneration, the use of the following were shown to decrease the progression of AMD.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin: These carotenoids are found in dark, leafy greens, broccoli, zucchini and eggs. This Ocular Health Formula contains both of these antioxidants and more.
Omega 3 fatty acids: High concentrations of Omega-3 are found in fatty fish like salmon, sardines and tuna. You may also consider taking an omega-3 supplement if you suffer from AMD.
Vitamin C: This vitamin is found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, but it is especially prevalent in citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, lime and lemon.
Vitamin E: Often found in fortified cereals and grains, you can also get vitamin E from sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts and tofu.
Zinc: This mineral is found in meat, fortified cereals, dried beans, whole wheat and buckwheat.
Copper: You can find this in dark, leafy greens like kale, swiss chard, turnip greens and mustard greens, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
Eating a well balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, you will not have much of a vitamin and mineral deficiency, but adding supplementation will help ensure that you meet the recommended daily dose needed to fully thrive and eliminate your dry eye and other disease symptoms.
There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Try to stick with the recommended dose for most vitamins as some can become toxic in your system if taken too much. Also consult your natural healthcare practitioner if you are unsure about what to take.