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Save your sight.

Sight is something that comes naturally but is often taken for granted until it gets blurry. In June 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that approximately 285 million people worldwide are visually impaired, 39 million of whom are blind and 246 million have low vision. What's worse, 80 percent of these cases could have been avoided or cured.

Food intake plays a great role in eye health through vitamin A, which promotes normal vision. It also enables the eyes to adjust to a lower level of light, allowing people to see even in darkness. Deficiency of this vitamin results to xerophthalmia, a serious medical condition manifested by the eyes' inability to produce tears, which leads to dryness. When left untreated, this will lead to blindness.

But vitamin A deficiency is not limited to just eye complications. It could also cause problems with the skin, immunity, growth, and reproduction. Extreme caution, however, should be taken with dietary supplementation of vitamin A because large intakes can also be harmful. Headache, vomiting, loss of appetite, dry and scaly skin, bone and joint pain, nerve and liver damage, abnormal bone growth, and birth defects are symptoms of hypervitaminosis A.

An overdose of vitamin A is unlikely to occur from high consumption of whole food sources like fruits and vegetables. Thus, it is better to get your vitamin A naturally than to take it from dietary supplements without the guidance of a physician or dietitian.

Carotenoids like beta carotene are phytonutrients that give fruits and vegetables their colors. These get converted into vitamin A in the body. Sometimes, high intake of carotenoids can turn the skin color into yellow. This should not cause any alarm since this condition is not hazardous to one's health. High levels of carotenoids in the body does not cause hypervitaminosis A because conversion of the carotenoid beta carotene to vitamin A ceases when there is adequate stores in the body, thus preventing toxicity.

Beta carotene is the most common form of carotenoid, but there are hundreds of other carotenoids. Lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin are among those that have been analyzed in correlation to eye health. They protect the eyes from sun damage, cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye problems.

Since the eyes have been created to see the vibrant beauty of colors around us, it is not surprising that colors are vital to maintain healthy eyes. If you are looking for eye-friendly food items, make sure to incorporate these colors into your daily intake.

Red - tomatoes, tomato products, red bell pepper, watermelon, red grapes, papaya, grapefruit, and pink guava.

Orange - carrots, orange, and cantaloupe

Deep yellow - sweet potato (kamote), squash, corn, and mango

Dark green - malunggay, spinach, kale, green bell pepper, romaine lettuce, broccoli, kiwi, honeydew melon, and other dark, leafy vegetables

There are other foods that also promote eye health. These are milk, eggs, fortified cereals, beef liver, fatty fishes like salmon, strawberries, and green tea.

Remember though that vitamin A is a fat-soluble substance. It is best absorbed when consumed with moderate amounts of healthy fat sources like olive oil and other vegetable oils.,, Instagram/@cheshirequerdn

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Title Annotation:Wellbeing
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Aug 18, 2015
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