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“Brain Food” Supports Vision, Too

You probably know I’m a big fan of Omega-3 fatty acids. They support better overall heart health. And research shows your grandmother was right. Fish really is brain food.

Oily fish are an especially rich source of Omega-3’s. These fatty acids have a positive influence on molecules in the brain linked to thinking and learning.(1)

Recent studies have added another great benefit, too. Research reveals Omega-3’s have beneficial effects on your vision.

As you get older, structural abnormalities can develop in the back of your eyes, and slowly rob you of some – or all – of your vision. Not long ago, a group at the National Eye Institute looked at this situation in mice.

When they added Omega-3’s to the diets of mice suffering these abnormalities, the researches saw a slow-down in the problem. And, in some mice, they saw improvements.(2)

Omega-3’s appear to provide similar support for human vision, too.

Back in the early 1990’s, there wasn’t much information about Omega-3’s and vision. But a large Australian study – the Blue Mountains Eye Study – collected a lot of information about eye health and diet. They also collected 5-year and 10-year follow-ups on 2,454 study participants.

Last year, a team went back and sifted through the information. One group of nutrients that stood out was the Omega-3 fatty acids.

The researchers discovered that people who ate at least one serving of fish per week were 31% less likely to develop common structural problems in their eyes. And people who ate one or two weekly servings of nuts had a 35% lower risk.(3)

Fish and nuts are two of the richest sources of Omega-3’s, so researchers naturally made the connection.

Looking back at old data can provide valuable information. But it can also be misleading. That’s why a large new US vision study couldn’t be more welcome.

This study looked at more than 2,500 people aged 65 – 84. And it focused on Omega-3’s and vision.

The researchers discovered that people who ate less Omega-3-rich fish and shellfish had a much higher risk of the same eye problems the Australian study reviewed.(4)

In other words, the Australian team was right. Eating more Omega-3’s could help you see better, longer.

Oily fish are the best source of two important Omega-3 fatty acids: EPA and DHA. Herring, salmon, sardines and oysters are all rich in these Omega-3’s.

Flaxseed oil, walnuts and other tree nuts are good sources of another powerful Omega-3, called Alpha-linolenic acid.

These studies didn’t look at Omega-3 supplements. But I’ve seen many studies that show fish oil provides many of the same benefits as eating fish. So if you don’t care for the taste of fish, fish oil capsules could be a good alternative for you.

If you aren’t already getting plenty of Omega-3’s in your diet, supporting better vision is a great reason to get started. It may help you preserve your independence – and add to your enjoyment of life – for many years to come.


1 “Scientists Learn How Food Affects The Brain: Omega 3 Especially Important,:

2 Tuo J, et al. A High Omega-3 Fatty Acid Diet Reduces Retinal Lesions in a Murine Model of Macular Degeneration. Am. J. Pathol. 2009 175: 459-460.

3 Tan JSL, et al. Dietary Fatty Acids and the 10-Year Incidence of Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Archives of Opthalmology, Vol. 127 No. 5, May 2009.

4 Swenor BK, et al. The Impact of Fish and Shellfish Consumption on Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Opthalmology, Volume 117, Issue 12, Pages 2395-2401 (December 2010).