By the time we are 75, it’s estimated about half of us will have cataracts.
It is a clouding of the eye lens that impairs vision.
For decades, doctors believed this sight-robbing condition was a normal part of getting older. They said there was nothing they could do to prevent it. The only treatment option was surgery to remove the cloudy lens.
But scientists at Kings College London have discovered that one crucial nutrient may protect against cataracts.
The study looked at 1,000 pairs of identical female twins. This allowed researchers to limit genetic differences as a factor.
They found that twins with higher vitamin C intake had a 40% lower risk of getting cataracts than their sibling who got less vitamin C.
“Vitamin C from food seemed to protect against cataract progression,” reported lead researcher Dr. Christopher Hammond. He’s a professor of ophthalmology. The study was published in the journal Ophthalmology.
Why So Many People in India Go Blind
The findings confirm those of previous geographic studies. India accounts for 20% of all cases of blindness in the world. A large proportion of its population is vitamin C deficient. Cataracts are the principal cause of blindness there.
Nearly 73% of elderly adults in India have cataracts. That risk drops nearly in half to 39% for those whose diets are richer in vitamin C.
How does vitamin C keep cataracts away?
The fluid inside your eye is normally higher in vitamin C than other body parts. Scientists say the antioxidant properties of vitamin C help prevent oxidation of the eye lens that leads to cataracts.
Researchers don’t know why, but vitamin C supplements do not seem to offer as much protection against cataracts as foods high in vitamin C do.
The National Institutes of Health recommends 80 mg a day of vitamin C for men and 75 mg for women. But more is better. Vitamin C—whether from foods or supplements—has a myriad of health benefits.
It boosts the immune system, improves digestion and dental health, relieves asthma, and lowers blood pressure. You should try to get at least 250 mg a day.
Top 10 Foods High in Vitamin C
Here foods that are densely packed with vitamin C. They are listed by how much vitamin C they contain in a serving of 100 grams (about 4 ounces).
- Guavas, 228 mg
- Yellow bell peppers, 184 mg
- Black currants, 181 mg
- Green bell peppers, 177 mg
- Red bell peppers, 162 mg
- Mustard greens, 130 mg
- Kale, 120 mg
- Kiwi, 93 mg
- Broccoli, 89 mg
- Cauliflower, 88 mg
You might be surprised not to see oranges on the list. After all, they are renowned for being high in vitamin C. But oranges actually have just 59 mg of vitamin per 100-g serving, far lower than the foods that made our top 10.
One more thing…
In addition to adding vitamin C to your diet, there is another proven way to prevent cataracts. Many studies have found that wearing sunglasses helps. They stop the UV rays in sunlight from oxidizing the proteins in your eye lenses, thereby preventing cataract formation.
But make sure your sunglasses block both UVA and UVB rays. Both can cause the oxidation that leads to cataracts.
Despite what you may have been told, cataracts are not an inevitable part of aging. There is something you can do to stop them. Make sure you get plenty of vitamin C every day.
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