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Are Antioxidants Nutritional Sunglasses?
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|Q: Are Antioxidants Nutritional Sunglasses?
A: Sunlight—with all of its beneficial effects on mood and vitamin D status, which in turn supports absorption of nutrients that protect health of bones and other body systems—causes slow and cumulative damage to skin and eyes. One study published in the Archives of Ophthalmologyfound that high lifetime sunlight exposure correlates with age-related macular degeneration in people who do not get adequate amounts of vitamins C, vitamin E, and zeaxanthin, and found that people who do get enough of these antioxidants were protected.
People concerned about macular degeneration should:
- Avoid the midday hours of most intense sunlight, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. in order to lower retinal exposure to blue light. When outdoors during intense sunlight, wear broad-brimmed hats and sunglasses, which are estimated to reduce ocular light exposure by approximately 40% and 70%, respectively.
- Eat a varied diet with lots of colorful fruits and vegetables to ensure that the body is getting enough carotenoids and vitamin C, as well as bioflavonoid antioxidants that might also be protective.
- Eat plenty of vitamin E–rich foods such as unprocessed oils, nuts and seeds, tomato sauce, and avocado, and foods with zinc such as meat, dairy, fish, whole grains, and (again) nuts and seeds that help round out the diet by providing these important nutrients.
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