Natural Products Insider

MAY-JUN 2018

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58 INSIDER May/June 2018 meso-zeaxanthin, 10 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin showed clinically meaningful improvements in their vision after 24 months. 2 Only 19 percent of participants taking lutein and zeaxanthin reaped those same benefi ts. Another antioxidant carotenoid, astaxanthin, can neutralize free radicals in the eye. 3 It "helps replenish the cells of the body, eye cells included, by capturing the oxidants produced due to excessive usage of [electronic] devices or for aging eyes that need protection from damage," said Karen Hecht, Ph.D., scientifi c affairs manager, AstaReal Inc. "It also helps muscles in the eye endure the stress of long screen time." Studies show regular supplementation with astaxanthin can deliver a host of benefi ts. Taking 12 mg daily for four weeks improved blood fl ow in eye capillaries. 4 Daily supplementation can also improve symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome, including greater accommodation speed in subjects with eye fatigue, 5 increased critical fl icker fusion and sharper visual sensation. 6 That can translate to improved comfort for screen users. Along with carotenoids, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are among other top nutrients for eye health that can benefi t people of all ages. "DHA is required in utero and through the lifespan," Vannice affi rmed. Randomized clinical trials reported better visual maturation and function at age 1 in babies fed formula supplemented with 0.36 percent DHA. 7 One clinical trial reported visual acuity of infants fed formula supplemented with 0.32 percent DHA was like breast-fed infants at 4 years of age. 8 Omega-3s are also effective for combatting dry eye, which can strike after extended periods of screen time. Controlled human research studies have shown consuming 750 to 2,240 mg of EPA and DHA per day increases the production and volume of tear fi lm, and slows rate of evaporation. 9,10,11 That can help ease uncomfortable symptoms like burning and irritation. These nutrients are also thought to be important in reducing the risk for AMD. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to provide neuroprotection in the retina through modulating metabolic processes that affect harmful oxidative stress, infl ammation and vascularization, 12 Evans explained. Large quantities of vitamin E, a family of eight fat-soluble antioxidants including alpha-tocopherol, are also present in lens fi bers and membranes. 13 Alpha-tocopherol can attack free radicals and prevent a chain reaction of lipid concentration, Evans said. The downside is vitamin E's antioxidant properties are lost as soon as alpha- tocopherol neutralizes a free radical. But, other antioxidants such as vitamin C can help regenerate its antioxidant ability. 14 Zinc is highly concentrated in the retina and the choroid (the vascular layer of the eye), so it, too, plays an important role in keeping eyes healthy. "It helps bring vitamin A from the liver to the retina to produce a protective pigment called melanin," Evans said. Not getting enough zinc has been linked to impaired vision and poor night vision, as well as cloudy cataracts. 15 Zinc also boasts antioxidant properties that scavenge superoxide radicals to help keep eye tissue healthy. Indeed, loss of zinc from biological membranes increases eyes' susceptibility to oxidative damage. 16 Over time, this could ultimately have a negative effect on eye function. A Look Into the Future A growing number of consumers would benefi t from nutritional support for optimal vision. At the same time, growing consumer awareness regarding diet and the importance of proactive health habits is likely to fuel the demand for eye heath supplements, Portela said. Supplement manufacturers have an opportunity to educate consumers on the best options for promoting eye health. In a survey of 1,000 Baby Boomers conducted by the Ocular Wellness & Nutrition Society, almost 80 percent said vision is the most important of the fi ve senses, and 55 percent were very concerned about vision loss. However, more than 60 percent were unaware that certain nutrients play key roles in maintaining eye health, and less than 20 percent took supplements for their eyes. A whopping 80 percent of visual impairment, including blindness, is thought to be preventable, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). "The saying 'prevention is better than cure' has never been more accurate," said Brian See, business development manager, ExcelVite Inc. A former food editor, Marygrace Taylor (m arygracetaylor.com) is an award-winning health and nutrition writer specializing in natural living. She writes for consumer and trade publications including Prevention, FITNESS and Food Service Director, and is the co-author of the cookbook "Allergy- Friendly Food for Families." Eye Health More than 60 percent [of Baby Boomers] were unaware that certain nutrients play key roles in maintaining eye health, and less than 20 percent took supplements for their eyes. For a list of references, email references@naturalproductsinsider.com

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