While we’re on the subject of eyes, let’s talk Vitamin A—also known as beta carotene. Vitamin A helps maintain healthy teeth, bones, skin and good vision. It’s especially important for sharp low light vision, which tends to decline as we age. In fact, cases of extreme deficiency can lead to blindness!
Retinoids are topical Vitamin A, used to treat aging and acne, and they’re highly effective in both cases. But—since we’re talking about pregnancy a lot these days—be careful about using retinoids if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Excess Vitamin A intake has been linked to severe birth defects.
If you’re using retinoids or an acne treatment like Accutane, Sotret or Absorica, you’re likely getting plenty of vitamin A through your skin. And if you eat five servings of fruit and veggies, there’s a good chance you’re getting plenty of Vitamin A through your diet. Plant sources include dark fruits, leafy greens, sweet potatoes and carrots. Other sources include whole milk, eggs, fish and liver.
It’s probably not a great idea to supplement Vitamin A without a diagnosed deficiency. (At Elizabeth Adams MD, we can help you out with nutritional testing!) Too much vitamin A is toxic and can cause all sorts of beauty bummers—dry, peeling skin and nails, jaundice and hair loss, among them!
Other signs of Vitamin A toxicity include light sensitivity, joint pain, brittle bones, vomiting, headaches, blurred vision, confusion and liver problems.
So you have dark circles under your eyes, and you’re wondering if you can do anything, diet-wise, to lessen the discoloration? The good news is, you can! Vitamin K—found in broccoli, carrots, cabbage, spinach and strawberries—is great for circulation, which means it promotes a more even skin tone. It even promotes healthy circulation when applied topically, such as in an eye cream. Look for a cream with at least a five percent Vitamin K content, and know it’s especially effective when combined with a retinoid cream.
Vitamin E is not only a fantastic moisturizer that promotes even skin tone when applied topically (apply directly, undiluted, to the skin around the eyes), but it’s also been shown to lessen the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts when combined with Vitamins A and C, lutein and zinc. And both macular degeneration and cataracts can lead to blindness, so they’re definitely issues you want to prevent.
Almonds, spinach, sweet potatoes, avocado, sunflower seeds and butternut squash are all excellent sources of Vitamin E.
Found in leafy greens, orange veggies, egg yolks and citrus fruits, lutein is an anti-inflammatory that protects both the eyes and the skin from damage caused by aging. Researchers at Harvard University found that it can significantly lower the risk of macular degeneration.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 Fatty Acids, found in fish oil, not only contribute to healthy skin, they also help keep your eyes moisturized (dry eyes tend to be red, which is a bit of a beauty bummer) and are just general anti-inflammatory and anti-aging powerhouses.