Category Archives: Featured Articles

April 17th, 2014

Honeydew Melons

honeydew-melonAs a member of the curbitaceae family, honeydew melons are a relative of cucumbers and squash. It is thought that honeydews originated in Persia. Honeydew melon is present in Egyptian hieroglyphics dating as far back as 2,400 B.C.E., and was a prized as a food. Later cultivated by the Romans, honeydew were introduced to Europe during the rise of the Roman Empire. They did not gain popularity, however, until becoming a trend in the French royal court during the 15th century. Columbus carried honeydew melon seeds with him to America, as did Spanish explorers settling California. Today, most of America’s honeydew is still grown in California.

Nutritional Highlights:

  • Honeydew melon is only 60 calories per cup, and is composed of about 90% water.
  • It is a good source of vitamin C and has potassium content comparable to that of a banana, with fewer calories.
  • Honeydew is also a source of B vitamins thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid, as well as the trace mineral copper.

 

Health Benefits:

  • The combination of its high water content and potassium levels make honeydew melon effective at maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.
  • As honeydew contains both vitamin C and copper, they promote healthy skin by aiding collagen production and tissue repair.

Honeydew’s sweet and mild flavor allows it to be combined with almost any other fruit. Mix it with pineapple, banana, kiwi, and berries for a yummy fruit salad. For a more savory application, toss diced honeydew with lemon, watercress, lime, cilantro and jicama for a Mexican inspired dish. For a refreshing breakfast, use half a honeydew as an edible bowl for yogurt or even cottage cheese. For more preparation tips, check out a copy of my “Encyclopedia of Healing Facts”.

 

 

April 1st, 2014

Feeling Stressed? Try Ginseng

ginsengNature provides us with several plants that can help our body fight the effects of stress. These beneficial botanicals are often referred to as “adaptogens,” because they help us adapt to, or cope with, stress. For many years, these plants have been used to:

  • Restore vitality in debilitated and feeble individuals.
  • Increase feelings of energy.
  • Improve mental and physical performance.
  • Prevent the negative effects of stress and enhance the body’s response to stress.

Some of the most effective adaptogens are ginseng, rhodiola, lavender, and ashwaganda. This article focuses on ginseng.

Both Siberian and Chinese ginseng have been shown to enhance our ability to cope with various stressors, both physical and mental. Presumably this anti-stress action is mediated by mechanisms that control the adrenal glands. Ginseng delays the onset and reduces the severity of the “alarm phase” of the body’s short- and long-term response to stress (also known as the general adaptation syndrome).

People taking either of the ginsengs typically report an increased sense of well-being. Clinical studies have confirmed that both Siberian and Chinese ginsengs significantly reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. For example, in one double-blind clinical study, nurses who had switched from day to night duty rated themselves for competence, mood, and general well-being, and were given a test for mental and physical performance along with blood cell counts and blood chemistry evaluation. The group that was given Chinese ginseng demonstrated higher scores in competence, mood parameters, and mental and physical performance compared with those receiving placebos. The nurses taking the ginseng felt more alert, yet more tranquil, and were able to perform better than the nurses who were not taking the ginseng.

In addition to these human studies, animal studies have shown the ginsengs to exert significant anti-anxiety effects. In several of these studies, the stress-relieving effects were comparable to those of diazepam (Valium); however, diazepam has side effects that include behavioral changes, sedative effects, and impaired motor activity, while ginseng has none of these negative effects.

On the basis of the clinical and animal studies, ginseng appears to offer significant benefit to people suffering from stress and anxiety. Chinese ginseng is generally regarded as being more potent than Siberian ginseng, and is probably better for the person who has experienced a great deal of stress, is recovering from a long-standing illness, or has taken corticosteroids such as prednisone for a long time. For the person who is under mild to moderate stress and is experiencing less obvious impairment of adrenal function, Siberian ginseng may be the better choice.

Dosages are as follows:

Chinese or Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng):

High-quality crude ginseng root: 1.5-2 g, 1-3 times daily
Fluid extract: 2-4 ml (½-1 tsp), 1-3 times daily
Dried powdered extract standardized to contain 5% ginsenosides: 250-500 mg, 1-3 times daily

 

Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus):

Dried root: 2-4 g, 1-3 times daily
Fluid extract (1:1): 2-4 ml (½-1 tsp), 1-3 times daily
Solid (dry powdered) extract (20:1 or standardized to contain more than 1% eleutheroside E): 100-200 mg, 1-3 times daily

If you suffer from stress-related symptoms, it’s a good idea to try a natural remedy such as ginseng, which is easier on the body than pharmaceutical drugs and doesn’t have the harmful side effects.

July 23rd, 2013

Does Fish Oil Really Boost Prostate Cancer?

Omega-3s May Help Treat Depression, Osteoarthritis and Prostate CancerOn July 10, 2013, the media jumped on news that too much fish oil might boost prostate cancer risk. As someone who has studied the many benefits of fish oil for many years, my alarm bells went off. The story seemed, well, fishy to me.

So I did what a good scientist and medical person should do. I kept an open mind, but examined the study itself–who conducted it, how it was conducted, and what conclusions were drawn based on hard evidence. After all, a study’s conclusion is only as good as the study itself.

Why the Study Is Flawed
The pedigree of the study source is impressive. It was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and was conducted by researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, WA.

Read More

Unfortunately, the data used was from the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (“the select study”), a study that has been widely maligned for its wrongheaded use of synthetic vitamin E in doses that were too large.

Because the select study was not set up initially to evaluate fish or fish oil intake in the study group, its relevance is not as significant as studies designed to specifically determine the impact of omega-3 fatty acids on prostate cancer risk. As a matter of fact, there is no evidence that anybody in the select study took fish oil supplements or even ate fish!

To reach their conclusion about fish oil, the researchers measured the levels of fats in the blood of the SELECT study participants, and concluded that men with the highest concentrations of EPA, DPA, and DHA–three fatty acids derived from fish and fish-oil supplements–had an increased risk of prostate cancer. Specifically, they reported a 71 percent increased risk of high-grade prostate cancer; a 44 percent increase in the risk of low-grade prostate cancer; and an overall 43 percent increase in risk for total prostate cancer in a subset of patients with the highest level of these omega-3 fatty acids. Yet, the actual percentages of the omega-3 fatty acids were low in both groups. None of the participants in the SELECT study actually had high levels of omega 3 fatty acids. Overall, the noncancer patients had a value of omega-3 fats of 3.62 percent, while the level was 3.66 percent in the cancer group. For a more detailed discussion on the data and why the study’s conclusions are misleading, see my article here.

What Well-Conducted Fish and Fish-Oil Studies Show

The authors of the bad study conclude that men are at higher risk of aggressive prostate cancer if the total plasma level of EPA+DPA+DHA is greater than 3.68 percent. If that were true, then aggressive prostate cancer would be a major health concern and the leading cause of death in any country with even moderate fish consumption. But population-based studies show just the opposite effect. For example, prostate cancer incidents and death rates are among the lowest known in populations consuming the traditional Japanese or Mediterranean diets, two diets with a relatively high content of EPA+DHA.

In addition to population-based studies, there are several highly regarded studies that were specifically designed to determine the effects of fish and fish oil consumption in prostate cancer. In a detailed meta-analysis conducted in 2010, while fish consumption did not affect prostate cancer incidence, it was associated with a 63% reduced mortality due to prostate cancer. A meta-analysis examines all previously conducted studies.

Here are some of the results from some of those studies:

  • Researchers investigated the effect of dietary fatty fish intake among 6,272 Swedish men who were followed for 30 years. Results showed that men who ate no fish had a two to three-fold increase in the risk of developing prostate cancer compared with those who consumed large amounts of fish in their diet.
  • Data from the Physician’s Health Study, a study spanning 22 years, found that fish consumption (≥5 times per week) reduced the risk of dying from prostate cancer by 36 percent — specific death.
  • A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health that involved 47,882 men over 12 years found that eating fish more than three times a week reduced the risk of prostate cancer but had an even greater impact on the risk of metastatic prostate cancer. For each additional 500 mg of marine fat consumed, the risk of metastatic disease decreased by 24 percent.
  • In one of the best-designed studies, researchers in New Zealand examined the relationship between prostate cancer risk and EPA+ DHA in red blood cells. Higher levels of EPA+DHA were associated with a 40 percent reduced risk of prostate cancer.
  • In a study of 47,866 US men aged 40-75 years with no cancer history in 1986 who were followed for 14 years, EPA+DHA intake at the highest levels was associated with a 26 percent reduced risk of developing prostate cancer.

When ascertaining the benefits of fish consumption, it is important to find out how the fish is being prepared. For example, one study found that regular ingestion of fried fish was associated with a 32 percent increased risk for prostate cancer. In addition, many studies do not control for the quality of fish or fish oil. Some fish (and fish oil supplements) can contain environmental chemicals that can contribute to prostate cancer such as PCBs, heavy metals, and other toxic chemicals.

Fish Oil Recommendations
The best thing about the flawed study is that it will stimulate more research into the role of omega-3 fatty acids in prostate health. The worst thing about this study is that it may lead to many men abandoning the use of fish oil supplements. Based upon a large amount of clinical data, it makes sense for men to be consuming 1,000 mg of EPA+DHA daily for general health. And, if they are suffering from one of the over 60 different health conditions shown to be benefitted by fish oil supplementation, the dosage should be increased to 3,000 mg of EPA+DHA daily.

July 12th, 2013

How a SELECTed Bad Study Became Big News

Introduction
On July 10, 2013, major media headlines and news stories claimed “Too Much Fish Oil Might Boost Prostate Cancer Risk.” Wow, that sure seems fishy given all of the positive health benefits linked to fish oil intake. In examining the study, there are numerous issues that clearly indicate that perhaps the conclusion is wrong, but really a study’s conclusion is only as good as the data used (garbage in = garbage out).
Read More


Data Used was From the SELECT Study
The pedigree of the study source is impressive. It was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and was conducted by researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, WA.1 Yet, the data they used is from the much maligned Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT). That is the real problem.

The SELECT study was a very large clinical study that attempted to determine whether vitamin E  alone or in combination with selenium could prevent prostate cancer. Previous studies had shown 50 IU of vitamin E was protective against prostate cancer, but the SELECT study chose to use 400 IU of synthetic vitamin E (dl-alpha-tocopherol) at a dosage of 400 IU. Results showed that the subjects taking vitamin E alone had a 17% higher risk of prostate cancer compared to the control group.

In the new analysis, researchers measured the levels of fats in the blood (plasma phospholipids) and concluded that men with the highest concentrations of EPA, DPA and DHA-three fatty acids derived from fish and fish-oil supplements-had an increased risk of prostate cancer. Specifically, they reported a 71 percent increased risk of high-grade prostate cancer; a 44 percent increase in the risk of low-grade prostate cancer and an overall 43 percent increase in risk for total prostate cancer in a subset of patients with the highest level of these omega-3 fatty acids.

Important considerations of this data are the following:

  • This study is not consistent with other studies (discussed below)
  • The study did NOT include information or documentation of fish or fish oil intake in the study group. It was NOT set up initially to evaluate these factors, hence its relevance is not as significant as studies designed to specifically determine the impact of omega-3 fatty acids on prostate cancer risk.
  • There is no evidence that anybody in this study took fish oil supplements or even ate fish.
  • In usual circumstances, plasma levels of EPA and DHA reflect very recent intake and are considered a poor biomarker of long-term omega-3 intake.
  • The study did not measure plasma phospholipids on an individual basis and instead pooled data from blood samples collected at enrollment of the study.
  • Fish and fish oil ingestion produces a big rise in plasma omega-3 levels in about 4.5 hours and washes out around 48 hours.
  • The data may reflect cancer activity rather than a causative association. Without dietary history or documentation of fish oil use there is no way of knowing.

Lastly, the following statement by the authors suggests that they may have significant bias: “There is really no evidence that taking dietary supplements is beneficial to health, and there is increasing evidence that taking high doses is harmful.” Such a statement shows a clear axe to grind in light of a great deal of scientific evidence on the value of dietary supplementation.

A Closer Look at the Reported Results
Let’s take a closer look at the reported results to see if things add up. The bottom line is that they do not. Let’s first take a look at the blood levels of EPA+DHA – the major forms of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil supplements. As Table 1 shows the levels are quite similar among the groups. These blood levels of EPA+DHA are actually quite modest and do not reflect huge levels of fish or fish supplements being consumed. The average EPA+DHA plasma level for men is generally approximately 4%. So, the levels reported here are typical, but a little lower than normal and the ratio of EPA to DHA is also a little lower as well.

Table 1. Distribution of EPA and DHA among SELECT participants by prostate cancer grade (n=2273)*

No Cancer(1364 pts.) Total Cancer(834 pts.) Low-Grade Cancer(684 pts.) High-Grade Cancer(156 pts.)
Total EPA+DHA (% of total fatty acids) 3.52 3.66 3.66 3.74

What the researchers did next was divide cancer patients up by their blood levels of fatty acids and look at the hazard ratio – the relative risk over time – associated with different levels of the various fatty acids (see Table 2). As it relates to EPA, statistical significance was not achieved for total cancer or high-grade cancer (the P value has to be less than 0.05 to be deemed anything more than random chance). For DHA, there was statistical significance. But, again, the levels of DHA are typical of what is found in men consuming modest amounts of fish. However, the level of EPA was lower than that typically found and the ratio of EPA to DHA was also lower. What this may mean is that there may be increased conversion of EPA to DHA in prostate cancer. Though one interesting observation is that the hazard ratio (HR) actually went down in high-grade prostate cancer in the group with the highest level of DHA compared to the next highest group. This suggests that it is not that significant of a factor as one would expect if it was that the higher the level the higher the HR. But, this finding has a P value of 0.09 so no real conclusions can be made as it was probably a random finding.

Table 2. Associations between EPA and DHA among SELECT participants by prostate cancer grade (n=2273)

Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (% of total fatty acids) Total Cancer(834 pts.) Low-Grade Cancer(684 pts.) High-Grade Cancer(156 pts.) Total CancerHazard Ratio Low-GradeHazard Ratio High -GradeHazard Ratio
EPA
    <0.43 183 146 33 1.00 1.00 1.00
    0.43-0.57 176 140 39 0.91 0.91 1.06
    0.58-0.82 231 198 37 1.16 1.28 0.93
    >0.82 244 200 47 1.18 1.22 1.30
    P value 0.08 0.48 0.38
DHA
     <2.33 193 159 29 1.00 1.00 1.00
    2.33-2.93 192 154 36 1.05 1.01 1.37
    2.04-3.62 212 174 49 1.24 1.26 1.78
     >3.62 237 197 42 1.39 1.42 1.46
    P value 0.009 0.008 0.09
Total EPA+DPA+DHA
    <3.68 176 146 26 1.00 1.00 1.00
    3.68-4.41 196 159 35 1.15 1.10 1.39
    4.42-5.31 217 176 52 1.28 1.26 1.87
    >5.31 245 203 43 1.43 1.44 1.71
    P value 0.007 0.009 0.02

The authors conclude that men are at higher risk of aggressive prostate cancer if the total plasma level of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA+DPA+DHA) is greater than 3.68%. If that were true, then aggressive prostate cancer would be a major health concern and the leading cause of death in any country with even moderate fish consumption. The facts are that population-based studies show just the opposite effect. For example, prostate cancer incidence and death rates are among the lowest known in populations consuming the traditional Japanese or Mediterranean diets, two diets with a relatively high content of EPA+DHA.

What do other Studies Show?
In addition to population-based studies, several studies have been conducted that were actually designed to determine the effects of fish and fish oil consumption in prostate cancer. In a detailed meta-analysis conducted in 2010, while fish consumption did not affect prostate cancer incidence, it was associated with a 63% reduced mortality due to prostate cancer.2 A meta-analysis examines all previously conducted studies. Here are some of the results from some of these studies:

  • Researchers investigated the effect of dietary fatty fish intake among 6,272 Swedish men who were followed for 30 years. Results showed that men who ate no fish had a two- to three-fold increase in the risk of developing prostate cancer compared with those who consumed large amounts of fish in their diet.3
  • Data from the Physician’s Health Study, a study spanning 22 years, found that fish consumption (≥5 times per week) reduced the risk of dying from prostate cancer by 36%.4 -specific death.
  • A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health that involved 47,882 men over twelve years found that eating fish more than three times a week reduced the risk of prostate cancer but had an even greater impact on the risk of metastatic prostate cancer. For each additional 500 mg of marine fat consumed, the risk of metastatic disease decreased by 24%.5
  • In one of the best-designed studies, researchers in New Zealand examined the relationship between prostate cancer risk and EPA+ DHA in red blood cells (a more reflective marker for long-term omega-3 fatty acid intake). Higher levels of EPA+DHA were associated with a 40% reduced risk of prostate cancer.6
  • In a study of 47,866 US men aged 40-75 years with no cancer history in 1986 who were followed for 14 years EPA+DHA intake at the highest levels was associated with a 26% reduced risk of developing prostate cancer.7

While some studies make an important distinction, others do not. When ascertaining the benefits of fish consumption it is important to find out how the fish is being prepared. For example, regular ingestion of fried fish was associated with a 32% increased risk for prostate cancer.8 In addition, many studies do not control for the quality of fish or fish oil. Some fish (and fish oil supplements) can contain environmental chemicals that can contribute to prostate cancer such as PCBs, heavy metals, and other toxic chemicals.9, 10 These are important considerations.

 

Final Comments
The best thing about this study is that it will stimulate more research into the role of omega-3 fatty acids in prostate health. The worst thing about this study is that it may lead to many men abandoning the use of fish oil supplements. Based upon a large amount of clinical data it makes sense for men to be consuming 1,000 mg of EPA+DHA daily for general health. And, if they are suffering from one of the over 60 different health conditions shown to be benefitted by fish oil supplementation the dosage should be increased to 3,000 mg of EPA+DHA daily.

References:

1.         Brasky TM, Darke AK, Song X, et al. Plasma phospholipid fatty acids and prostate cancer risk in the SELECT Trial. J National Cancer Inst Online.          July 10, 2013 doi: 10.1093/jnci/djt174

2.         Szymanski KM, Wheeler DC, Mucci LA. Fish consumption and prostate cancer risk: a review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Nov;92(5):1223-33.

3.         Terry P, Lichtenstein P, Feychting M, Ahlbom A, Wolk A. Fatty fish consumption and risk of prostate cancer. Lancet 2001; 357: 1764-6

4.         Chavarro JE et al. A 22-y prospective study of fish intake in relation to prostate cancer incidence and mortality. Am J Clin Nutr 2008; 88: 1297-303.

5.         Augustsson, K., et al., A prospective study of intake of fish and marine fatty acids and prostate cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 12(1): p. 64-7, 2003.

6.         Norrish AE, Skeaff CM, Arribas GL, Sharpe SJ, Jackson RT. Prostate cancer risk and consumption of fish oils: a dietary biomarker-based case-control study. Br J Cancer 1999;81:1238-42.

7.         Leitzmann MF, Stampfer MJ, Michaud DS, et al. Dietary intake of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids and the risk of prostate cancer. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Jul;80(1):204-16.

8.         Stott-Miller M, Neuhouser ML, Stanford JL. Consumption of deep-fried foods and risk of prostate cancer.  Prostate. 2013 Jun;73(9):960-9.

9.         Ritchie JM, Vial SL, Fuortes LJ, Robertson LW, Guo H, Reedy VE, Smith EM.Comparison of proposed frameworks for grouping polychlorinated biphenyl congener data applied to a case-control pilot study of prostate cancer. Environ Res. 2005;98(1):104-13.

10.       Mullins JK, Loeb S. Environmental exposures and prostate cancer. Urol Oncol. 2012 Mar-Apr;30(2):216-9.

May 14th, 2013

A Secret for Younger-Looking Skin

young-skinDuring red carpet season, we ogle celebrities at the award ceremonies, examining their skin and hair, along with “who they’re wearing.”

It’s hard not to notice women who have clear, radiant, vibrant-looking skin, which is a sign of good health. While celebrities spend a lot of time improving the appearance of their skin from the outside, the real key to young-looking skin is proper nutrition and healthy habits.

In addition to eating healthfully and exercising, there’s a little-discussed supplement that can help prevent the wrinkling and dryness that contribute to old-looking skin. It’s called hyaluronic acid (HA). HA is a glycosaminoglycan that acts as the intracellular cement or glue of connective tissue. Connective tissue, as the term suggests, serves the function of supporting and binding other tissues. The loose connective tissue holds the skin and internal organs in place, while the fibrous connective tissue includes tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. In essence, hyaluronic acid not only helps to provide the structural framework of connective tissue, it is the actual “glue” that holds our body together.

Maintaining HA in body tissues is an important anti-aging strategy. One of the reasons our skin develops lines and wrinkles is due to the loss of HA. By the time most people reach the age of 70, the HA content in their body has dropped by 80% from when they were 40. After the age of 45 or so, HA levels in the skin begin to plummet.

There is a great deal of evidence that applying HA topically helps prevent wrinkles. But now researchers have discovered that taking hyaluronic acid orally is also beneficial for restoring moisture and youthful suppleness to the skin. Recent clinical studies using oral HA in patients with dry and rough skin have shown that patients given a supplement consisting of purified, bioavailable hyaluronic acid had a significant increase (46%) over baseline values in the moisture content of their skin.

Hyaluronic acid is a substance found in our bodies that’s essential for health, but now we know it’s also a key to beautiful-looking skin.

April 9th, 2013

The Best Nutrients for Your Eyes

eyesNutrients play an enormous role in preventing and treating the leading causes of impaired vision in North America–cataracts and macular degeneration. In both conditions, the eye’s normal protective mechanisms are unable to prevent damage to the lens and macula, respectively. Certain nutrients are essential in maintaining eye health, preventing these diseases, and improving visual function when these conditions do develop.

A diet high in richly colored fruits, particularly berries and grapes, and vegetables, particularly green leafy vegetables, helps to lower your risk for cataracts and macular degeneration. Initially it was believed that this protection was the result of increased intake of antioxidant vitamins and minerals. However, various “nonessential” food components, such as non-provitamin A carotenes like lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene, and flavonoids, were later shown to be even more significant in protecting against cataracts and macular degeneration than traditional nutritional antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium.
Read More


If you have any signs of visual impairment, you absolutely must be properly evaluated by a physician. I recommend that you get a baseline eye exam and then follow the program for a minimum of six months before getting retested. Success is achieved if the condition has not worsened or if there are signs of improvement.

Let’s look at some of the most important nutrients for improving eye health.

Lutein

Critical to the health of the macula are the carotenes lutein and zeaxathin. These carotenes function in preventing oxidative damage to the area of the retina responsible for fine vision, and play a central role in protecting against the development of macular degeneration. In one study, subjects with macular degeneration who took 10-15 mg of lutein daily showed significant improvements in several objective measurements of visual function, including glare recovery, contrast sensitivity, and visual acuity vs. those who took a placebo. Three large studies have shown that the intake of lutein was inversely associated with cataract surgery. In other words, the higher the intake of lutein, the less likely cataract surgery would take place. In addition to offering protection against cataract formation, lutein can also help improve visual function in people with cataracts.

Where to find Lutein: dark leafy greens, pistachios, peas, cucumber and celery

Nutritional Antioxidants

Nutritional antioxidants like beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, zinc, copper, and selenium are extremely important for eye health. While research has often focused on just one of these nutrients, studies conducted by the Age-Related Eye Disease Study Research Group (AREDS) confirm that a combination of these nutrients produces better results than any single nutrient alone. Yet, even something as simple as taking vitamin C or zinc can produce dramatic effects in preserving eye health. In one study, the use of vitamin C supplements for greater than 10 years was associated with a 77% lower rate of cataract formation compared to those who did not take a vitamin C supplement.

Zinc is perhaps the most important mineral for eye health, as it plays an essential role in the metabolism of the retina and the visual process. Levels of zinc have been shown to be greatly reduced in over 90% of cataract cases. Zinc is also involved in protecting against macular degeneration. A two-year double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 151 subjects demonstrated that the group taking a zinc supplement had significantly less visual loss than the placebo group.

Where to find Vitamin C: Bell peppers, kale, kiwi, papayas, oranges and clementines, strawberries

Where to find Zinc: Oysters, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, crab

Flavonoid-rich Extracts

Flavonoid-rich extracts of blueberry, bilberry, pine bark, or grape seed also offer valuable benefits in improving eye health as well as protecting against cataracts and macular degeneration. In addition to possessing excellent antioxidant activity, these extracts have been shown to exert positive effects on improving blood flow to the retina as well as improving visual processes–especially poor night vision. Take 150 to 300 mg of one of these flavonoid-rich extracts to support eye health.

Click here to find more foods rich in flavanoids

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and Acetyl-L-Carnitine

These two nutrients play a critical role in energy production. For example, the role of CoQ10 in our cells is very similar to the role of a spark plug in a car engine, while acetyl-L-carnitine functions as the fuel injection system. Just as the car cannot function without that initial spark, cells in our body cannot function properly without CoQ10 and carnitine. CoQ10 and carnitine perform their functions primarily in the mitochondria, the cell’s energy producing compartment. Although the body makes some of its own CoQ10 and carnitine, considerable research shows significant benefits with supplementation. The mitochondria within the retina are especially vulnerable to toxic byproducts of cell metabolism, making supplementation with acetyl-L-carnitine (a highly absorbable form of carnitine) and CoQ10 especially important. In one double-blind study, the combination of acetyl-L-carnitine (200 mg), omega-3 fatty acids (EPA 460 mg/DHA 320 mg) and CoQ10 (20 mg) was shown to improve visual function and macular alterations in the early stages of macular degeneration. In addition, it stopped the disease from progressing in 47 out of 48 cases.

Fish Oils

There is a strong relationship between hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and eye health. So, just as in atherosclerosis, omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils play an important role in prevention of eye conditions like macular degeneration. The recommended dosage of a fish oil supplement to support eye health is enough to provide approximately 1,000 mg of EPA+DHA, the two important omega-3 fatty acids.