August 15, 2018 by: Zoey Sky
News) Foods rich in carotenoids aren’t the only things that can
boost eye health, according to Dr. John Paul SanGiovanni, a federally
funded researcher who specializes in the topic. It looks like foods
that contain omega-3 fatty acids are also beneficial for optimal vision.
is the chief of the unit on Genetics in Nutritional Neuroscience in the
Laboratory of Membrane Biophysics and Biochemistry, National Institute on
Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a division of the National
Institutes of Health. His research regarding eye health has been
cited over 12,000 times.
per SanGiovanni, both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid
(EPA) are needed by the retina, which is one of “the most metabolically
active tissues in the body.” DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that is a major
structural component of the brain, cerebral cortex, retina, and the skin.
Meanwhile, EPA, another omega-3 fatty acid, can be found in oily fish or
it is common knowledge that the macular carotenoids, mainly lutein and
zeaxanthin, are mostly found in the retina through a dedicated
transporter, they are also found in the tissue at orders of magnitude
higher than in other body parts. SanGiovanni added that it isn’t as
well-known that large amounts of DHA can also be found in the retina. DHA
is important because it helps maintain healthy cell membranes, which is
the site of many subtle reactions in the highly charged metabolic
environment. (Related: Carotenoids
in veggies and fruits improve eyesight and prevent eye diseases.)
shared that DHA concentration in the human retina is much higher compared
to other tissues. At least 60 percent of the lipids in the retina are DHA.
SanGiovanni said that a very fluid membrane is necessary for cell
signaling and that DHA has the crucial characteristic that allows proteins
which are in the membrane move.
on omega-3 fatty acids
explained that research, which was done in as early as the mid-1990s, have
shown that individuals with lower risk of age-related macular degeneration
(AMD) had higher DHA levels in their blood.
common eye condition that
individuals aged 50 or older may develop. AMD is the leading cause of
studies examined intake versus status, and results reveal that people
whose diets contained more DHA and EPA have an estimated 30 to 40 percent
lower chance of developing AMD. SanGiovanni added that this finding has
been corroborated at least ten times in other studies.
said that for EPA, the essential fatty acid doesn’t have the same
structural role in cell membranes like DHA. He did note that EPA is still
required so cell signaling can function properly since the process needs
instantaneous cell response.
is also a precursor for several crucial antioxidant molecules that help
manage inflammation. Because the retina has a supercharged metabolism, a
large amount of oxygen is turned over every second and this can result in
an increase in the excess amounts of reactive oxygen species.
sources of carotenoids and omega-3s
are pigments synthesized by various algae, photosynthetic bacteria,
and plants. They are responsible for the bright orange, red, and yellow
colors in fruits, plants, and vegetables.
are antioxidants, and there are over 600 different types. These
antioxidants can be transformed into vitamin A once released into the
body. Some common types of carotenoids include:
that contain carotenoids include:
rich in omega-3 fatty acids include:
- Chia seeds
more about carotenoids, omega-3 fatty acids, and other phytonutrients
that support eye health at Nutrients.news.