Take Your Healthy Fats for Healthy Eyes

They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Unfortunately, for some the wisdom of age may obscure the view out of those windows.  For people over the age of 60, age-related macular degeneration is the number one cause of vision loss. Antioxidants such as zinc, lutein, vitamins A, C and E have been recommended for vision loss and may also slow the progression of eye diseases. But now there’s also encouraging news supporting the use of fish oil for keeping your eyes healthy and your ophthalmologist happy.

Macular degeneration is a condition where the macula, a small area in the back of the eye that helps refine the focus of objects in view, becomes damaged and objects begin to appear blurry. Those with age-related macular degeneration develop blurred vision or even a “blind spot” over time that can slowly interfere with daily life, making it difficult to read, drive or even recognize faces. According to an article due to appear in the June issue of JAMA Archives of Ophthalmology, regular consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish may help reduce the risk of macular degeneration in women.

The study was conducted using information on dietary habits from over 38,000 women and included a 10 year follow up. The study surmised that eating one or more servings of fish per week was associated with a 42 percent lower risk of age-related macular degeneration when compared to eating fish less than once per month. This research confirms previous studies, some showing that eating fish cuts the risk of the disease in half!

Luckily, other studies show that taking the main Omega-3 fats found in fish, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), regularly also reduces the risk of age-related macular degeneration. This is good news for the many people who are concerned about eye health but aren’t able or don’t want to consume fish. Whether it’s personal taste, limited availability or the increasing concern about the high levels of mercury in fish, many people are happy to get the benefits of Omega-3 fats in one convenient softgel rather than head to the fish counter at the grocery store.

For those looking for a one per day fish oil, be sure that you choose a high quality fish oil that offers high concentrations of EPA and DHA, has been purified to remove contaminants and is third-party tested for freshness.

Studies: Probiotics Benefit Preemies, DHA Benefits Moms

Two new reports from the National Institutes of Health tout the benefits of natural supplementation for both premature infants and their moms. In a study involving more than 100 babies who were born “extremely prematurely” (weighing 2 pounds, 2 ounces or less) researchers found that administering a probiotic supplement once daily until they reached 34 weeks actually helped the babies gain weight.

While nearly half of the infants received a combination of beneficial Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Bifidobacterium infantis, the remaining participants did not receive any probiotics. The difference in weight gain, researchers believe, has to do with the ability of probiotics to help the body more effectively absorb needed nutrients from the diet. Providing an infant-friendly probiotic supplement during the early years also helps to promote healthy digestive and immune function later in life.

Another study found that mothers of premature infants can promote healthy brain development in their babies by taking a natural DHA supplement. An Omega-3 fatty acid found primarily in fish oil, DHA has been shown to promote healthy brain and nervous system function as well as eye health, and breast-feeding moms taking supplemental DHA had more than 10 times the amount of DHA in their breast milk than those who were not taking a supplement. Study author Dr. Isabelle Marc stressed the importance of dietary supplementation in order for moms to obtain sufficient levels of DHA for the “optimal growth and development” of their babies.