Very little can impact your life more than losing your sight. Imagine being unable to drive… or even find your way around. Imagine giving up your favorite activities. Or not being able to see the smiles on your children’s or grandchildren’s faces.
It’s a frightening prospect. And that’s why it’s so important to take good care of your eyes.
The benefits of antioxidant vitamins, zinc and lutein are well known. But there are other nutrients that play a role in protecting your sight. Today, we’ll explore a few of them.
Protection for Your “Windows on the World”
Your eye’s lenses are like windows. Without them, no light would get into your eye… and you’d see nothing. Unfortunately, they’re not as tough as glass. And they face a constant assault – from within and without.
Inwardly, out-of-control blood sugar can wreck your vision. It’s a problem that threatens millions of Americans.
But you have a way to fight back. It’s a flavonoid – a plant pigment – called quercetin.
You see, when blood sugar levels remain too high, an enzyme – aldose reductase – can cause a build-up of alcohol sugars in the lens. This build-up leads to cloudiness – and eventually to loss of vision.
But quercetin inhibits aldose reductase. In fact, an in vitro study found quercetin cuts aldose reductase levels in half.(1) Of course, it’s important to deal with the underlying blood sugar problem. But quercetin can help protect your vision until your blood sugar is under control.
According to researchers at the University of East Anglia, quercetin is also a powerful antioxidant that helps protect your eyes from free radical damage.(2)
A research team in Germany also found that quercetin protects the cells that nourish the retina – the part your eye that’s sensitive to light. In a laboratory study, they found that quercetin acts as an antioxidant for this “retinal pigment epithelium.”(3)
So quercetin helps protect your eyes three ways. But it’s not the only nutrient that offers protection from blood sugar issues.
Two More Promising Nutrients for Clearer Vision
Some studies show that high blood sugar levels can lead to a process called protein oxidation. And this oxidation process can cloud your eyes.
But laboratory studies show that N-acetyl L-cysteine (NAC) can stop it.(4)
Your body makes a powerful antioxidant – glutathione – from NAC. And glutathione works particularly well in the eyes. It appears that NAC may benefit your eyes by providing the raw materials for increasing your body’s store of glutathione.
But that’s not all it does. Animal studies show that NAC can also help prevent other types of eye damage.
For example, researchers in Louisiana gave selenite – a crystal that leads to damage in the eye – to a group of rats. Some rats also received different levels of vitamin B6 and NAC. The eyes of all the selenite-only animals showed signs of damage. And about a third of the animals receiving low levels of B6 and NAC also had eye damage. But none of the animals given the higher doses of B6 and NAC showed any damage at all!(5)
Another nutrient that shows similar promise is rutin.
Rutin is a flavonoid that’s similar to quercetin. And it may have similar protective properties, too.
That’s what it showed in a study published in Molecular Vision last year. Researchers in India gave selenite and rutin to a group of rats. Some animals received rutin only once, while others received it daily for several days.
After 30 days, the entire one-treatment group showed lens damage. But two-thirds of the other group had absolutely no signs of damage. And that group also showed much higher levels of protective glutathione.( 6)
Using the Latest Science to Protect Your Precious Sight
Quercetin’s protective action is fairly well studied – though not well known. Research into NAC and rutin is newer and harder to find. But the signs are extremely promising.
You can increase the quercetin in your diet by eating apples, grapes and onions. Buckwheat and citrus rind are both rich sources of rutin.
Unfortunately, you won’t find meaningful amounts of NAC in foods. But it is available in supplement form.
If you want to protect your vision, I think all three are worth seeking out.
1. Chaudhry PS, et al. Inhibition of human lens aldose reductase by flavonoids, sulindac and indomethacin. Biochem Pharmacol. 1983 Jul 1;32(13):1995-8.
2. Cornish K, et. al. Quercetin metabolism in the lens: role in inhibition of hydrogen peroxide induced cataract. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, Volume 33, Issue 1, 1 July 2002, Pages 63-70.
3. Kook D,et al. The protective effect of quercetin against oxidative stress in the human RPE in vitro. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2008 Apr;49(4):1712-20.
4. Jain AK, et al. Effect of high-glucose levels on protein oxidation in cultured lens cells, and in crystalline and albumin solution and its inhibition by vitamin B6 and N-acetylcysteine: its possible relevance to cataract formation in diabetes. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, Volume 33, Issue 12, 15 December 2002, Pages 1615-1621.
5. Aydin B, et al. Prevention of selenite-induced cataractogenesis by N-acetylcysteine in rats. Curr Eye Res. 2009 Mar;34(3):196-201.
6. M. Isai, et al. Prevention of selenite-induced cataractogenesis by rutin in Wistar rats. Mol Vis. 2009; 15: 2570–2577.
Dr. Woliner is a board certified medical physician and modern day pioneer in the world of alternative men’s health and nutritional science. Using a unique combination of modern “Western” medicine and traditional holistic healing practices, Dr.Woliner has revolutionized men’s health care treatments for many of today’s most common male health concerns – specializing in alternative treatments for Prostate enlargement (BPH) and a myriad of erectile concerns and men’s sexual health issues.
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