Do eye health supplements really work?

Health supplements are a modern invention. Yet, after a few minutes of browsing the shelves of Holland and Barratt or just your local supermarket, you could be fooled into thinking they’re essential for everyone to maintain a basic standard of health.

Together, all products or supplements that aim to improve your health—multivitamins, protein powders, detox tonics, etc.—make up a multi-million-pound global industry. The fact is, they’re convenient, incredibly-well branded, and often promise for results that no vegetable or piece of fruit ever could.

However, the research backing up their effectiveness is sketchy, to say the least. Larry Appel, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Welch Center for Prevention, makes this clear: “pills are not a shortcut to better health and the prevention of chronic diseases.” To him, other recommendations that have proven health benefits are a much better way to go: “eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing the amount of saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, and sugar you eat.”

The irony is, all the money we spend on health supplements can add up to hundreds of pounds per household each year. A quick capsule or two in the morning may make you feel better and like you’re looking after your health, but ultimately it is wasting money which could be much better spent on eating nutrient-packed foods from local, organic sources.

In terms of your eyes, there’s no shortage of products that claim to boost your vision and give you gleaming eyeballs. Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Riboflavin, Niacin, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids, and thiamine are all commonly sold as solutions to preventing or slowing the progression of many eye and vision conditions.

If you have a condition in which you are deficient in a particular nutrient or vitamin, or, for example, you are pregnant, then certain supplements may be beneficial. However, as Appel says. “If you follow a healthy diet, you can get all of the vitamins and minerals you need from food.” 

So, if you follow the age-old advice and eat well and exercise, you don’t need to take supplements. But this begs the question, what exactly does it take to eat well and get the nutrients you need from your diet?

More Whole grains

Wholegrains may sound like another marketing fad. But the fact is, grains such as whole wheat, brown rice, and barley are good for you because they still have the bran—the fibre-rich outer layer that protects the seed and contains B vitamins and trace minerals—as well as the germ—the small nutrient-rich core that contains antioxidants, vitamin E, B vitamins, and healthy fats.

The result is that choosing more wholegrain cereals, breads, and dishes can help improve your eye health, as well as aid digestion and lower your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

More healthy fats

First of all, it’s important to limit your intake of saturated fat: A type of fat found in abundance in foods such as butter, whole milk, full-fat cheese, ice cream, and fatty meats.

Saturated fats are proven to raise levels of LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream. They can also interfere with your body’s ability to absorb sugar easily from the blood.

Healthy fats are essential fats, such as unsaturated omega-3 oils, that the body can use to build brain cell membranes. They’re considered essential because your body needs them but can’t make them on its own, and so they must be consumed in food or supplements.

A diet rich in omega-3s-containing foods such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel, as well as walnuts, flaxseed, soybeans, and canola oil, can help protect against heart disease, stroke, cancer, and yes, improve your eye health.

More locally-sourced, organic produce

When it comes to meat and milk, organic products have been found to contain up to 50 percent more omega-3 fatty acids.

This difference may come from how the livestock is raised, including their diet and the conditions in which they live. Organic foods have to adhere to much stricter standards than conventional foods, for example, they can only use herbicides and pesticides that contain ingredients made from natural sources.

Organic produce is also typically free from antibiotics and synthetic growth hormones, which conventional producers often use to raise animals in unsanitary conditions and to help them gain weight faster or produce more milk.

All this results in higher-quality produce that contains more vitamins and minerals that you and your eyes need to stay healthy. If you can’t eat organic all the time, use the Dirty Dozen list to eliminate the foods with the highest pesticide residues from your daily diet.

Make sure your eyes and vision are the best they can be. Find out how Laser Eye Surgery can benefit you or book your consultation by contacting one of our friendly clinic coordinators.