You are what you eat, goes the old saying. But what if you, like most of us, aren’t sure what foods are healthy for your eyes? What if, between getting the kids ready for school, getting yourself ready for work, and getting the dog walked, you have no time to plan a menu, let alone cook it?
You probably grew up being told to take your vitamins every morning because they were good for you? But once you take them how do you know what they are really doing? Now that you’re older and get to chose your vitamins, an eye vitamin or supplement should be one of your choices. If you’re relying on a vitamin supplement to fill those gaps in your diet – how do you know it’s working?
These days, we have more sources of information than ever: sorting through it all often requires more time and patience than most of us can afford. So we at Rebuild your Vision have put together a few basic rules to help guide you when it comes to feeding your eyes. Every day can be a visual feast.
#1: The key to vitamin supplements is not the amount you take, but the amount your body absorbs.
Think of it this way: you can change the oil in your car regularly, but if you have a leak, you’re defeating the purpose.
So it goes with supplements. For instance, as with most nutrients, minerals must travel to the liver before becoming available to the body. Fiber binds to minerals and other compounds, and can interfere with the absorption process.
So if you’re taking your vitamins and minerals at the same time as you take your fiber, the fiber will bind to the vitamins and minerals, causing limited absorption and decreasing the nutritional benefits. Many foods contain fiber, even many foods that are otherwise good for your vision. If you’re taking a supplement in the mornings, make sure you have a low fiber breakfast with it.
#2: Take most supplements with food.
There are a few specific supplements that should be taken on an empty stomach: herbal remedies or probiotics, iron, and calcium are a few. (If you take a calcium supplement, it is suggested that you take it at night; calcium is better at building bone strength and mass while you are sleeping.) Perhaps that’s where the warm cup of milk helping us to sleep came from?
But most vitamins do best when taken with a meal. For instance, vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, which means there needs to be some fat floating around in order for digestion to happen at all.
Fats (so long as they’re the good kind, like the monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, avocados, almonds, and sesame seeds) are fundamental for properly functioning cells, nerves, lungs, eyes, and other organs, including your brain, heart, and immune system. Among other reasons, that’s because of the role they play in nutrient digestion: fats slow digestion down, giving your body more time to absorb nutrients.
For once a slower digestion can work in your favor. The more time your body has to absorb the vitamins and minerals the more benefit you receive from them. After all you’re taking the supplement in order to ensure that your eyes are healthy, you want to get as much benefit from the supplement as possible.
#3: Drink water to maximize nutritional intake.
Drinking water on a steady basis throughout the day helps your body metabolize vitamins and nutrients more efficiently, so you can fully reap their benefits. However, your body can only absorb 4-6 ounces of water at a time. So in order to hydrate properly, drink 4-6 ounces of water at a time many times throughout the day.
This is one common mistake that people make when adding water to their routine. Drinking too much water at one time just means you’ll need to make another trip to the bathroom. Have you noticed that the bottles of water in stores are getting larger every day? This is to encourage you to think that you need to drink more of it at once, don’t fall for it.
And remember, any beverage containing caffeine, such as coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and sodas, can inhibit the absorption of vitamins and minerals and increase their excretion from the body. This doesn’t mean that you have to give up the antioxidants in green tea, just make sure that you drink a caffeine free version of it.
#4: You can’t go wrong with sweet potatoes, kale and spinach.
If you’re on a three-minute dash through the grocery store and you’re wondering what to buy, spinach, kale, and sweet potatoes will boost your vision on a budget. You can quickly steam all three in the microwave or on the stove; toss them with pasta or rice; or serve them alongside some chicken for a delicious meal packed with beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin A, and more.
Quick snacks that are easy to take to work and school include trail mixes that have sunflower seeds, nuts, and dried fruits in them. Many of these contain essential vitamins and minerals that will help your eyes. Try spinach leaves instead of lettuce in your tossed salad and reap the benefits. Most leafy green vegetables contain lutein and zeaxanthin, both excellent for your vision.
So which eye vitamin do we recommend? The choice is easy. We combed through the mountains of research and came up with what I consider the essential eye vitamin for men and women.