There’s a good reason for the common belief that carrots are good for your eyes. Carotenoids, the pigments that give carrots their orange hue, accumulate in the eyes, where they protect against UV light. But, there’s a new kid on the block when it comes to supporting healthy vision – omega-3 fatty acids.
Just ask Dr. John Paul SanGiovanni, an accomplished eye health researcher at the National Institutes of Health. He was recently interviewed about omega-3s and their role in supporting eye health, and to celebrate Healthy Vision Month, we’re sharing some of his insights.
Omega-3s and Your Eyes
The omega-3s DHA and EPA are both important for eye health, specifically, the health of the retina. You can thank your retinas for translating light into visual images that allow you to see. (That’s where all those rods and cones you studied in high school live.)
DHA’s main job is structural: it helps maintain healthy cell membranes. EPA’s role is functional: it helps cells communicate with each other. EPA is also used to make important antioxidants. That’s critical, because the delicate retina is particularly prone to free radical damage.
According to Dr. SanGiovanni, DHA is highly concentrated in the retina, just like carotenoids. In fact, there is more DHA in the retina than any other tissue of the body! That gives us a good indication of how important DHA is to eye health.
Eat More Omega-3s, See Better
Dr. SanGiovanni points to studies going back over twenty years showing that people with higher levels of DHA enjoy better vision. Later research, which looked at intake (in other words, how much DHA and EPA you consume) rather than status (in other words, the level of these fats measured in your blood) has found over and over again that the more rich in EPA and DHA that food you eat is, the more likely you are to have healthy vision.
Do You Get Enough?
Omega-3s are essential fatty acids, which means your body needs them but does not make them on its own. As a result, you need them to get them from your diet or from supplements.
Yet just as most people don’t consume enough fruits and vegetables daily, they’re also lacking in omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, according to a recent study, 90 percent of Americans do not get enough omega-3s in their diet.
How to Get More Omega-3s
Most people know EPA and DHA are abundant in fatty fish such as salmon, cod, and mackerel, and that’s a good place to start. But you can also get them from algae, which is not only vegetarian, but also a sustainable resource.
The Juice Plus+ Omega Blend capsules contain omega-3s derived from algae, rounded out with a broad array of other omega fatty acids — 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9 — from plant-based sources such as pomegranate seeds, sea buckthorn berries, raspberry seeds, tomato seeds and safflower seeds. Just like the other Juice Plus+ Blends, the Omega Blend bridges the gap between what you should eat, and what you do eat, every day.
What’s your favorite way to get enough omega-3s? Share in the comments below!