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Nutrients for Macular Degeneration Part I of II

Nutrients for Macular Degeneration Part I of II

Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe, permanent vision loss in people over 60.  It happens when the small central portion of your retina, called the macula, wears down.  The retina is the light-sensing nerve tissue at the back of your eye.

One of the nutrients essential for the retina and macula is Omega-3 fatty acids, a specific type of Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) known to reduce inflammation and lower the risk of chronic diseases.  They are so essential to the retina that when omega-3 levels begin to fall, the retina will recycle them within the eye.  Omega-3 fats are essential for nerve conduction in the retina and for reducing cholesterol, keeping retinal blood vessels open and helping maintain retinal nutrition.

The typical American diet is deficient in omega-3 fatty acids.  The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are cold-water fish (salmon, herring, mackerel), black-currant seed oil, flax seeds and oil, chia seeds, walnuts, fresh basil, grape leaves, spinach, cauliflower, arugula, Romaine, Boston and bibb lettuces, certain beans (pinto, kidney, and soy), Brussels sprouts, and tofu.

The typical American diet is also too high in omega-6 fatty acids, which convert in the body to inflammatory compounds and reduce the conversion of omega-3 to anti-inflammatory compounds.  Omega-6 is found in vegetable oils and refined grains (white bread, white rice, white pasta).

Oil % Omega-6 Content % Omega-3 Content
Safflower 75 0
Sunflower 65 0
Corn 54 0
Cottonseed 50 0
Sesame 42 0
Peanut 32 0
Soybean 51 7
Canola 20 9
Walnut 52 10
Flaxseed 14 57
Fish 0 100

Terry Pfau DO, HMD

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