Tag Archives: antioxidants

A Cup of Hot Tea a Day, Keeps the Glaucoma Away

December 2016 The on-line British Journal of Ophthalmology published  a report indicating  that “Drinking a cup of hot tea at least once a day may be linked to a significantly lower risk of developing the serious eye condition, glaucoma.”  The investigators looked an an American study which yearly, surveys the lifestyle and health status of 10,000 Americans, by means of both physical exams and  interviewing.

The researchers looked at the subjects consumption of coffee, tea, and soft drinks, both with caffeine and without caffeine.  After sorting through and teasing out the data (I won’t bore you with the numbers here),  the investigators determined that the drinking of a cup of hot tea with caffeine daily reduced the risk of developing glaucoma by 74%. In health research 74% is a BIG number. An almost Too-Good-to-be-True number.

So what is it?  Why would the caffeinated tea reduce the risk, but not the caffeine in coffee or soda?  For that matter, de-caffeinated tea was not a factor in reducing the risk, at least not in this study.  The American survey did not delve into types of tea (green tea, black tea,, Oolong tea, Lipton tea), brewing times, size of the cup, etc.  The information  was general: one cup (or more) daily.

Glaucoma is a progressive, sight threatening eye disease.  The common understanding is that it is a disease of high eye pressure, that damages the light sensing neurons of the retina of the eye.  The progressive  damage to these nerves results in nerve cell death, and subsequent loss in vision. Most therapies are centered on controlling the pressure inside of the eye. But doctors are finding that these therapies are sometimes not enough.  Medical research is focusing on other factors that contribute to the progression of glaucoma.

So that brings us back to the role that hot tea may play in reducing the risk of glaucoma.  The questionable aspect is the caffeine. Other research has shown that the eye pressure can go up, which is undesirable, when caffeine, in the form of coffee, in ingested. (JGlaucoma)  Tea has other beneficial factors, such as antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and neuro-protective substances.  These factors are also essential for good general health. They have been studied as an important nutritional component for heart and vascular health, diabetic control, and cancer prevention.  That which is good for the body is good for the eyes.

The researchers conclude that more research needs to be done to sort out the effects of tea on the risk for the development of glaucoma.

See a review of the article by the British medical Journal

 

Meso-Zeaxanthin: The Third Carotenoid

What is it, and do I need it?

The Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) was a 5 year study  published in 2013.  Notably, in this second study, was the addition of two carotenoids as part of the supplement group.  The carotenoids are lutein and zeaxanthin.  The conclusion of the study was that these two carotenoids helped limit the progression of AMD.  Lutein and zeaxanthin  are concentrated in the macula of the retina where they  provide protection, by the absorption of light and anti-oxidant activity, and thereby aid in the function of the macula.

Studies have shown that it is not just lutein and zeaxanthin that provide support to the retina, but there is a third carotenoid, meso-zeaxanthin that needs to be present for optimum anti-oxidant effect.

Scientists indicate that meso-zeaxanthin is made from lutein.  The question arises; have you ingested enough lutein and is it converted to the  meso-zeaxanthin form in sufficient amounts to make enough macular pigment to provide protection to the macula?

Although it is thought that some of the meso-zeaxanthin is derived from lutein, the rest needs to be derived from foods. Food sources are fruits, vegetables (green and yellow), whole grains, egg yolks, and fatty fish (Rainbow trout and salmon, especially the skin).  We can never be really sure how much of the vital carotenoids we are getting, even from what we think is a nutritious diet.  In an age where our foods are produced by farm “factories” and may be genetically modified, the nutritional value may not be what we expect.  That is where supplementation becomes important for those with critical needs to maintain ocular and general health.  Supplementing the diet directly with MZ (safely) can prevent the macula from becoming deficient.

Biochemistry is complicated.  The AREDS2 found that the beta-carotene had the capability of competing with, and therefore decreasing the absorption of lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin.  So do not take them together.  (Note; AREDS supplement formula has beta-carotene, whereas AREDS2 does not have beta-carotene, but does have lutein and zeaxanthin).

Studies have shown that there is a drop in macular pigment decades before the onset of  macular degeneration.  There is a bonus to supplementing with the carotenoids; multiple studies have found that test subjects who supplemented with carotenoids not only increased macular pigment, but also experienced improved cognitive function.  Even young college students in one study benefited from carotenoid supplements. The trend is that eye doctors are now recommending to their patients who have macular degeneration and those at risk for developing MD, supplements which include lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin.

Be aware, when shopping for eye vitamins, the most popular AREDS and AREDS2 formulass do not include meso-zeaxanthin.

 

Co enzyme q10

Co q10 is a molecule of the ubiquinone family of compounds . The ubiquinones are substances that are found throughout the body, hence the term  “ubiquitous”. It is not considered a vitamin because it can be made by the body. Coenzyme q10 is found in cell membranes, where it has two functions: (1) it is an essential compound used by the cell to form energy in the form of ATP, from carbohydrates to be used by the cell,  (2) it is  involved in free radical scavenging. Continue reading Co enzyme q10

The Carotenoid: Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is a nutrient of the carotenoid group. Previously, I discussed the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. The carotenoids are important as a nutrient for their anti-oxidant capability to neutralize free radicals, made by the process of cellular metabolism, that have the potential to damage cells. This has important implications for those with eye disease, as a supplement to decrease cellular damage. Continue reading The Carotenoid: Astaxanthin

Saffron

Crocus salivus, saffron flower
Crocus salivus, saffron flower

Saffron is the spice derived from the three stigmas (red colored threads about 25-30 mm long) of the crocus flower. Not the same crocus we grow here in the States, which blooms in the spring, but a crocus grown predominantly in the Middle East. This variety of crocus (Crocus sativus) blooms in the Fall. The world’s largest  producer of saffron is Iran. Because it takes thousands of flowers to produce an ounce of saffron, it is very expensive at about $30. USD an ounce. Continue reading Saffron

The Flavonoids, Bilberry

Bilberry is a small fruit berry found growing wild on scrubs in Europe. It is dark in color, purplish-blue and is similar to the blueberries found in the United States, but is actually more closely related to huckleberries. It is the dark purplish-blue color that is the active ingredient of bilberries, called anthocyanin.  Anthocyanin is one of the organic substances of the Flavoinoid class of antioxidants. Anti-oxidants react with damaging free radicals in our bodies to prevent or reverse cell damage that can lead to disease. These same substances are also found in berries such as raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, and sour cherries. Bilberry is notable for having the highest concentration of anthocyanin meaning it has powerful anti-oxidant capability. Continue reading The Flavonoids, Bilberry

Eye Vitamins: Turmeric and Curcumin

Turmeric is known as the “golden spice,” for its bright orange-yellow color. It is derived from an underground stalk, called a rhizome, of a tropical plant, much like ginger. It is one of the spices common to curry powder and is a staple in Indian cooking.  It has long been used for its medicinal properties in ancient Indian medicine because of its anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory,  neuroprotective, and anti-cancer effects.  Curcumin is the active ingredient of turmeric. It is the curcumin which has the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effect. The curcuminoids account for about 2 – 9% of turmeric. The spice is also a source of vitamin C and magnesium. Continue reading Eye Vitamins: Turmeric and Curcumin

Eye Vitamins: The Antioxidant Vitamin E

Vitamin E refers a group of fat soluble chemicals. While there are several forms, alpha- tocopherol is the form that the body recognizes as a nutrient. It is an important antioxidant to reduce the damage caused by free radicals and it is thought to help strengthen the immune system, blood, and cell membranes. Continue reading Eye Vitamins: The Antioxidant Vitamin E

Eye Vitamins: The Antioxidant, Vitamin C

While vitamin C is one of many antioxidants, it is a nutrient that is important to many biochemical reactions in the body and is essential for overall health and is considered to have an anti-aging effect.  It is an essential antioxidant which scavenges for those free radicals produced by the body’s metabolic activity and environmental  attacks to reduce oxidative stress. It is crucial for cardiovascular health, supports the immune system, and nerve cell function. Continue reading Eye Vitamins: The Antioxidant, Vitamin C

Antioxidants

Antioxidant means: Anti– (from Latin) is “against,” “opposed to” and oxidant refers to reactive molecules produced during the body’s oxygen metabolism or created from environmental causes. Antioxidants, therefore, are those molecules responsible for reducing those reactive molecules which are free radicals and oxidants. Free radicals and oxidants have been implicated as one of the causes of disease. Continue reading Antioxidants