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Friday, June 20, 2014

Maintain and Improve Your Vision with Zeaxanthin... The Eye Vitamin

Before we talk about zeaxanthin and just how good it is for your eyes, listen to this little catchy song about how it can help in not having people call you four eyes :).

Zeaxanthin (a very important food for healthy eyes) is found in several of the common fruits and vegetables we eat but, rarely do we pay attention to this vitamin.

The drive for healthy eating continues to grow, but there are still many of us who eat purely for the purpose of satisfying our hunger. Our eyes are the windows to the world around us, and life can become pretty uncomfortable if they start going bad. The eyes require their own special nutrients to keep them healthy. Too many of us pay very little attention to the chemical component of the foods we ingest, and how they affect us when they become a part of our body. Our health actually starts with our choice of food. A deterioration of health sends us to the doctor for a quick fix (maybe worst), but the key to saving on health care begins with our eating habits and the choice of foods we eat. This article will focus on one of those very important yet not so popular nutrients which can be found in many of the foods we eat - zeaxanthin.

What is zeaxanthin?

This vitamin is a bioflavonoid/flavonoid which belongs to the carotenoid group of nutrients. The carotenoid group to which zeaxanthin belongs is sub-divided into two groups. These are xanthophylls and carotenes. Zeaxanthin belongs to the xanthophylls group which is found chiefly in green leafy vegetables. Foods rich in zeaxanthin include:

· Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and greens.
· Yellow fruits and vegetables such as paw paw or papaya and carrot.
· Egg yolk

I should pause here to break down and briefly discuss some of the key terms used so that the reader can have a clearer understanding - if you are not already familiar with them.

Bioflavonoid/flavonoid: The pigment present in plants to which the yellow, red or blue pigmentation in their flowers can be attributed are known as bioflavonoids or flavonoids. It is this pigment which helps to protect the flower from bugs and other pest.

Foods rich in flavonoids includes citrus fruits, certain other fruits, green tea, parsley, herbs, vegetables, wines, dark chocolate and grape seeds. Flavonoids are largely noted for their anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Carotenoids: The parent group of chemical nutrients to which flavonoids and bioflavonoids belong. Carotenoids are fat soluble nutrients with great anti-oxidant properties.
Now back to the main nutrient of this article… zeaxanthin.

                                      Zeaxanthin and Our Eyes

Zeaxanthin is an essential nutrient for maintaining healthy eyes. A lot of zeaxanthin can be found in the retina of the eye. This alone indicates the importance of ensuring that we consume sufficient amounts of this nutrient.

Furthermore, zeaxanthin is vital in the protection of the eye from ultra-violet rays and from damages which may result from sight-related degenerative conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma and diabetes when it affects the retina.

How the Body Processes and Uses Zeaxanthin.

Bearing in mind that zeaxanthin is from the family of nutrients which are fat-soluble, we need to consume fat containing foods to effect the proper absorption of this nutrient in the body. It is common knowledge that foods work in harmony with each other. In that same manner nutrients work hand in hand with each other. A lack of one nutrient affects the ability of the digestive tract to adequately process, absorb and make available another nutrient to the body. This is the reason some persons may confidently eat adequate amounts of food containing a particular nutrient but still be told that the body lacks that nutrient.

Smokers ALERT!!!

Zeaxanthin can be taken with foods containing fat or with supplements containing fatty acids such as fish oil. Persons who smoke should pay keen attention to their fruit and vegetable intake as the habit of smoking may interfere with the absorption process of cartonoids in general. It is advisable that smokers include fruits and vegetables in their diets, and avoid supplements for this nutrient as research has linked lung cancer to this practice.

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