Why omega-3 fatty acids are good for infants and adults, and what foods you should be eating to get the benefits
Diet is a key lifestyle factor that may influence eye health. Research has shown that diets rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, obtained either from food sources or supplements, may have ocular benefits.
The role of Omega-3 fatty acids in infant vision development
Omega-3 fatty acids are important constituents of a developing and growing brain and are considered essential for brain development both in utero and in early infancy.
Several studies in both preterm and term infants have shown that a dietary supply of omega-3 fatty acids may be essential for optimal visual development. For example, this clinical trial conducted in the United States showed that the addition of omega-3 fatty acids to baby formula leads to better visual function a year later, when compared to infants who were fed milk without the addition of omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, omega-3 enriched formula-fed infants had better visual acuity than commercial formula-fed infants at both 17 and 52 weeks of age.
Adult eye benefits of Omega-3 fatty Acids
Omega-3 isn’t just good for your children, it is also good for you too! Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids protect adult eyes from macular degeneration and may also play a role in the proper drainage of fluid in the eye, which decreases the risk of high eye pressure and glaucoma.
Foods containing omega-3 for healthy eyes
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for our health, but our body is unable to produce them. The only way we can get omega-3 fatty acids is through our diet, which is why the foods we choose to consume are so important. Careful planning of your dietary intake and good nutrition will put you on the right path to healthy eyes.
Luckily, omega-3 fatty acids can be obtained from several sources. The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are cold-water fish, like sardines, herring, tuna, Spanish mackerel and salmon. The Singapore Health Promotion Board recommends a diet that includes two or more servings of fish a week, where one serving = 90g of cooked fish. Just be sure that you are employing healthy methods of cooking the fish, like grilling, baking or steaming, so that it is good for the heart as well.
For those among us who don’t love fish, another way to ensure a sufficient intake of omega-3 in your diet is to take fish oil supplements. Those that come in capsule form generally have a non-fishy taste.
And for the vegetarians, meat-free sources of omega-3 include flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts and dark green leafy vegetables. So start getting into the behaviour of paying attention to your diet to reap the benefits later in life!