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Fish and Fish Oil Supplements for Vision

Supplements help your Vision

Up until now if you eat fatty fish twice a week or take high potency pure fish oil supplements there was a direct benefit to your heart, a very positive effect on your brain that may even prevent Alzheimer’s and even relief of pain from your arthritis. Just recently a new study has shown that this same regimen may even benefit your eyes.

A recent study just published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that increasing your intake of fish can help lower the odds of developing the advanced form of age related macular degeneration (AMD).

Almost one million Canadians are affected by AMD and that number is expected to double within the next 20 years. Macular degeneration is not really on the rise but can now be very easily diagnosed with all the modern advances in new technology. Your optometrist or ophthalmologist can usually catch it very early, whereas thirty years ago it would go undiagnosed and you would slowly lose all of your eyesight.

AMD is a chronic disease that attacks the central part of the retina called the macula, which controls fine detailed vision. The condition results in progressive loss of visual sharpness making it difficult to drive a car, read a book or recognize faces.

There are two types of AMD: wet and dry. Dry is more common and occurs when the macula thin gradually with age. Wet AMD is caused when abnormal blood vessels grow under the macula.

The exact cause of AMD is unclear but factors such as genetics, family history, smoking or exposure to cigarette smoke, high blood pressure, excessive sunlight exposure without eye protection and a diet low in fruits and vegetables are linked to a greater risk of acquiring AMD. It is felt that antioxidants found in fruits protect cells in the retina from the harmful effects of free radicals, unstable molecules formed from cigarette smoke and ultraviolet light.

This is not the first study to link higher intake of fish with a lower risk of developing AMD. Research has also shown that if you are diagnosed with AMD, increasing your intake of fish or fish oil supplements may stop the disease from progressing.

In the current study researchers investigated omega-3 fatty acid intake among 1837 older adults with AMD who had participated in AREDS (Age-Related Eye Disease Study). The original AREDS study was a randomized control trial that found that a daily regimen of antioxidant vitamins and minerals delayed the onset of AMD by 25 percent. This study was then followed by other studies that showed megadoses of vitamins and minerals were even more effective than those used in the original study.

In the new study, those with the highest intake of omega-3 fats from fish and seafood – the equivalent of eating about 3 ounces of wild pacific salmon or 5 ounces of rainbow trout per week – were 30 percent less likely to progress to advanced AMD over 12 years than their peers who consumed virtually no seafood at all.

Whether it is sunlight, smoke or lack of antioxidants or a combination of all three, eventually degenerative changes begin to take place in the macula leading to AMD. One omega-3 fatty acid in fish called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), is concentrated in the retina where it is thought to prevent degenerative changes through its antinflamatory and antioxidant properties.

There is a new AREDS2 study, a five year randomized trial involving 4000 people underway right now. In the new trials they are combining certain antioxidants such as beta carotene, vitamin E and vitamin C along with Omega-3 fatty acids to determine their effect on advanced AMD.

For years most nutritionists have known that a regular intake of nuts, fruits and vegetables can help prevent AMD, while a diet with too much fat, alcohol and refined foods can actually increase the risk.

The following foods and nutrients may help you maintain your vision as you age.

FISH

To increase your intake of DHA and EPA, the two omega-3 fatty acids in fish, eat fish at least twice a week. The best sources are wild salmon, trout, sardines, herring and arctic char.

If you do not like fish or are concerned about the PCBs and mercury contamination take fish oil supplements that are pharmaceutical grade, a designation by Health Canada that they contain absolutely zero contaminants. The only two available are Nutra Sea fish oil and capsules and RxOmega-3 capsules by Natural Factors.

NUTS

Many people think of nuts as fattening but they contain the good fats and eating them has been linked to a lower risk of macular degeneration. They have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. They reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and AMD. They are an excellent snack with powerful nutritional properties.

LUTEIN

This phytochemical, abundant in leafy greens is concentrated in the macula where it protects from damaging UV light. A high intake of lutein from foods has been linked with a lower risk of AMD. The best sources of lutein are spinach, Swiss chard, kale, collard greens and to a lesser amount in green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, nectarines and oranges. Lutein is also available as a dietary supplement in as high a strength as 40mg by Now Foods.

ZINC

Studies have found that higher blood levels and higher dietary intakes of zinc are linked to a lower risk of AMD. This mineral may protect from macular degeneration by nourishing cells in the retina. Zinc-rich foods include oysters, seafood, red meat, poultry, yogurt, wheat bran, wheat germ and whole grains.

ANTIOXIDANTS

Most of the research suggests that people who consume the most antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene from regular foods are much less likely to develop AMD.

Vitamin C rich foods include citrus fruits, cantelope, kiwi, mango, strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, red pepper and tomato juice. To increase vitamin E include wheat germ, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, whole grains and kale in your diet. Beta-carotene is plentiful in dark green vegetables as well as carrots, sweet potato, nectarines, peaches, mango and papaya.

If you are at risk for AMD or you  have been recently diagnosed with AMD and you have a problem consuming all the right foods to prevent it from advancing, then combining two supplements may help you; Vision Essentials from Dr.Whitaker and one teaspoonful of Nutra Sea fish oil a day or two capsules of Rx Omega-3 Factors. The Vision Essentials is a complete formula of antioxidants, amino acids and herbs and when you add high potency fish oil to the mix you maximize your chances of stopping the progression of AMD.

Always remember that food is your first choice to obtain the nutrients, antioxidants and disease-fighting ingredients that are necessary for your health. What you lack in your diet you top up with supplements.

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