Intake What Counts:
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables are associated with a lowered risk for ARMD. Presumably, this protection is the result of increased intake of antioxidant vitamins and minerals. However, various "non-essential" food components, such as the nonprovitamin A carotenes (carotenes that are not converted to vitamin A) lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene, along with flavonoids, are proving to be even more significant in protecting against ARMD than traditional nutritional antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium. For example, one study compared patients with age-related macular degeneration to healthy controls. Individuals with low levels of lycopene were found to be twice as likely to have age-related macular degeneration.
The macula, especially the central portion (the fovea), owes its yellow color to its high concentration of lutein and zeaxanthin. These yellow carotenes function in preventing oxidative damage to the area of the retina responsible for fine vision and obviously play a central role in protecting against the development of macular degeneration.
The best way to protect against ARMD is through diet. In particular, regular consumption of foods rich in the important carotenes for the eye is highly recommended. In addition, lutein and zeaxanthin are also available in pill form. These are three primary types of carotene supplements on the market:
1) Synthetic all-trans-beta-carotene
2) Beta- and alpha-carotene from the algae Dunaliella
3) Mixed carotenes from palm oil
Important Carotenes For The Eye:
Lycopene - Food sources; Tomatoes, carrots, green peppers, apricots, pink grapefruit
Zeaxanthin - Spinach, Paprika, corn, fruits
Lutein - Green plants, corn, potatoes, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, fruits
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