Micronutrients and eye health
Good eyesight requires the thousands of cells which compose the eye to all function well. The cells, in turn, rely on an adequate supply of micronutrients to support and maintain their function. Several vitamins are needed as co- factors for the enzymes involved in sight. Vitamins are also important to the optical nerve that transmits light signals from the eye to the brain; to the muscle cells that facilitate visual acuity; and to the blood vessels that are responsible for supplying the eyes with blood and nutrients. The carotenoids found in the macula lutea, the yellow spot at the center of the retina, filter short-wave light like natural sunglasses and protect this sen- sitive area of the eye against UV damage. In addition, ome- ga-3 fatty acids protect the retina and are indispensible for sensory cell function and hence for vision.
The role of vitamin E in age-related diseases
Aging is a complex biological pheno- menon in which the deficiency of the nutritional state combined with the presence of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress contribute to the deve- lopment of many age-related diseases. Supplementation with vitamin E may restore the balance and protect against the deteriorating effects of oxidative stress. While experiments in cell cultu- res and in animals have clearly shown that vitamin E can play a role in pre- venting degenerative diseases or their progression, clinical trials have generated contradictory results. Various factors can contribute to all the discrepancies. Among them is the poor consideration of vitamin E–gene interactions and indi- vidual gene variations affecting the vitamin’s bioactivity.
A new US study shows that low-income, overweight, and/or obese population groups may have a significantly increased risk of calcium and vitamin D insufficiency, despite the important role these nutrients play in bone health during all stages of the lifecycle.
A new UK study reports that less than one in three women take folic acid supplements before pregnancy to prevent birth defects.