Many of us, myself included, take vitamins and supplements as part of our daily quest for a healthier lifestyle. Why are they good for us though, and which ones should we take to improve the health of our eyes?
Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) are essential nutrients which our bodies cannot make or store. Current research suggests they offer many health benefits such as reducing blood pressure, protection from heart disease, improving cognitive function in Alzheimer’s, and protecting our bones and joints.
If you suffer from dry-eye you will be pleased to learn that the properties of Omega-3 can help you too. They have anti inflammatory properties that reduce the uncomfortable symptoms of dry eye, as well as improving the quality of the tear film. Research also suggests that a daily dose may reduce the risk of wet AMD and play a role in prevention of cataract.
The two critical Omega-3 EFAs are EPA and DHA . You will see them listed on the back of your supplement bottle. The best sources of these Omega-3 EFAs are oily fish and fish oil supplements and they supply the preferred Omega-3 EPA and DHA that the body can most readily use. Flaxseed, found in nuts and dark leafy vegetables will also provide Omega-3, but not in the form that is most readily converted by the body.
Our typical British diets of processed foods tend to have the wrong balance of EFA’s, having more Omega-6 than 3. While Omega-3 reduces inflammation, Omega-6 can cause inflammation. These 2 fatty acids compete for the same space in our body, so I would suggest you avoid supplements that provide both and opt only for Omega-3 fish oils. Supplements can be found readily in supermarkets and health food shops in both tablet and liquid form. Otherwise, embracing the Mediterranean lifestyle of a diet rich in unprocessed oils and oily fish should do the trick (and some more Meditarranean weather would help too I reckon). Please contact the practice if you would like any further advice.