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Consuming Fish and Fatty Acids Help Maintain Healthy Eyesight


Results from a study conducted by Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, published in July 2011 Archives of Ophthalmology, suggest that regular consumption of the fatty acids DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and fish, is associated with a significantly decreased risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in women. Results also suggest that consuming DHA, EPA and fish may be of benefit in primary prevention of AMD.

DHA (Docosa-Hexaenoic Acid) is a main structural component of the human brain and retina cells.

Approximately 40,000 female health professionals with an average participant age of 54.6 years completed a study questionnaire and were free of AMD at the outset. Over the course of the 10 year study, a total of 235 new cases of AMD were confirmed. Women in the study who did not have AMD at the beginning of the study, but who consumed 1 or more servings of fish per week, compared to those who consumed less than 1 serving of fish per month, reduced their risk for contracting AMD significantly. This finding was consistent with AMD reduction by DHA and EPA consumption taken alone, among the study's participants. The researchers of this study concluded that regular consumption of DHA, EPA and fish was associated with a decreased risk of AMD, and may also be beneficial in preventing AMD. PMID:21402976

Sources of DHA and EPA Fatty Acids

DHA is found in cold water fatty fish, including salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, herring and shellfish. EPA is found in cod liver, herring, mackerel, salmon, menhanden and sardines. EPA and DHA are available as a supplement in two common forms:

DHA/EPA Side Effects - Pharmaceutical Drug Interactions

Fish oil capsules can cause minor side effects, such as loose stools, abdominal discomfort, and belching. In addition, they may also prolong bleeding time slightly. If you take blood-thinning medication, talk to your doctor before taking fish oil. They also interract with aspirin, some diabetes medications and antibiotics. Source:

Curcumin limits retinal cell and amacrine cell death despite elevated levels of cell damaging protease, according to the Eye Research Institute, Oakland University, in Michigan. Researchers point out curcumin as a therapeutic agent for preventing the loss of rentinal cells in degenerative eye conditions.

Vegetarian Sources of DHA and EPA?- Flaxseed, Linum Usitatissimum

Flaxseed oil can be substituted for fish oils. Flaxseed and flaxseed oil are a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential fatty acid that our body transforms into the omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA. Other plants sources that provide ALA include rapeseed (canola), soybean oil, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds. However, smaller amounts of ALA is converted to DHA or EPA in the body, so larger quantities of flaxseed oil need to be taken to get the same effects from fish oils. Larger amounts of flaxseed oil may induce diarrhea and may increase blood sugar levels, but fish oils may require a higher intake of vitamin E.

EPA and DHA, from fish oils, are more rapidly transformed into cell structure, providing faster acting effects than ALA. According to University of Maryland published literature, "fish oil products would be preferred to flaxseed oil."

This University of Maryland's literature overview suggests that lignans and ALA contained in flaxseed may be effective in the prevention and treatment of the following:

High cholesterol Dietary flaxseed significantly improved cholesterol profiles in human patients, and may reduce cardiovascular risk factors.

Heart Disease Flaxseed makes blood less "sticky, improving inflammation, blood vessel health, and irregular heart beat.

Menopausal Symptoms - 40 grams of flaxseed was found to be equally effective as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for treating mild menopausal symptoms.

Breast Cancer Dietary flaxseed has been shown to reduce breast cancer tumor growth in humans.

Prostate Cancer Men who ate a low-fat diet supplemented with flaxseed for 1 month had slower tumor progression. Yet, advanced prostate cancer patients had higher quantities of ALA from, meat and dairy and non animal sources.

Colon Cancer Lignans in flaxseed may slow the growth of colon tumor cells. Some studies have found that flaxseed may significantly reduce the number of abnormal cell growths.

Skin Cancer Flaxseed offers some protection against skin cancer including, possibly, the prevention of metastatic spread of melanoma from the skin to the lungs Source: More information about doseage, precations, inteactions and supporting research.

Omega-3 Supplement Helps "Dry Eye"

To help lubricate and nourish the eyes, researchers from the The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center gave a daily dose of fish oil, containing 450 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid, 300 mg of docosahexaenoic acid, and 1000 mg of flaxseed oil where given to patients for 90 days. Results show 70% of the patients showed zero symptoms of their previous dry eye condition, compared to a placebo control group showing only 7% improvement. PMID:21045648


Long-term use of antioxidants, vitamin C, lutein, and zeaxanthin have been associated with lower incidence, and progression of cataracts. PMID:21150604

Supplementation of goji berry over 90 days increased zeaxanthin and antioxidant levels, protecting elderly subjects from hypo-pigmentation, and soft drusen build-up in the macula area of the eye. PMID:21169874

Omega-3 fatty acids are metabolized into, resolvins and protectins, functioning asanti-inflammatory compounds, in Age-related macular degeneration. PMID:19751815

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) improves nitros oxide bioavailability, decreases oxygen production, and dampens VEGF-mediated pathways, suggesting a role for polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly DHA, for maintaining healthy blood vessels within the eyes, while reducing retinal neovascularization. PMID:20702831


are assistants of board reviewed doctors that are medical editors, authors, and reviewers, providing oversight for Heartspring.net. This article is currently undergoing doctor reveiw.

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Updated: Dec 21 2013