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Nutritional advice for eye health is much the same as it is for general health: Eat a range of brightly colored vegetables and fruits, as well as plenty of probiotic and fermented foods to enhance digestion. And it’s true: A carrot or two certainly helps.

According to Sam Berne, OD, an integrative optometrist in Tesuque, N.M., these are some of the most important nutrients for eye health:

  1. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid found in carrots, sweet potatoes, and apricots. The body uses it to make vitamin A, which helps eyes convert low light into a signal the brain can read. Vitamin A also nourishes the cornea, which can shrink if the body is deficient in this nutrient.
  2. Lutein is an antioxidant that protects the macula and lens. Find it in kale, spinach, goji berries, and citrus fruits.
  3. Zeaxanthin, an antioxidant in pumpkins, tomatoes, red peppers, and squashes, protects the macula from UV rays and blue light.
  4. Glutathione is a critical antioxidant the body produces that helps prevent cataracts. Sulfur-containing foods, like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale, help support its production.
  5. Taurine, a mineral found in salmon, tuna, eggs, dark poultry meat, and beef, can protect against macular degeneration and glaucoma.
  6. Magnesium is a mineral that supports the optic nerve. It’s in almonds, cashews, brown rice, and lentils. (For more magnesium-rich foods, visit Magnesium: Your Body’s Spark Plug.)

Berne also views zinc, selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins C, E, D3, B12, B6, and B2 as critical for eye health. They provide a range of protective benefits, support the immune system, and fight inflammation. While whole foods are the ideal sources for any nutrient, you might also choose to support eye health with a supplement.

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