Athletes always look for ways to take their game to new heights through outstanding performance. The fact is true for all including children sports, high-school athletes and adult-sports which mostly include contact games. Most seek a performance edge with strength and agility, others invest in the latest sporting gear but only a few realise the importance of essential sports nutrition.
It’s however most unfortunate that importance of nutritional values are often overlooked and given that most of the physical sporting activities involves excellent visual acuity for dynamic performance. Recent research in medical science concluded that “carotenoids” are the most beneficial nutritional supplement crucial for excellent sports performance. Here’s all you should know!
Carotenoids are the natural pigments that give vegetables and fruits their respective colour be it green, yellow, red and orange. Till now, approximately 600 carotenoids have been identified to exist in their natural form with only 50 found in foods. As for the eye, only three carotenoids are present! These act as antioxidants and protect the cells from danger of free radicals produced by the body during physical and strenuous activities. These free radicals are released by the body during stress, inflammation, exposure to UV sunrays, pollution, smoking cigarette and the usual body metabolism.
In-eye carotenoids: Macular pigment
Despite the high occurrence and range of carotenoids in nature, only three are found in the eye that we know as;
- Zeaxanthin and
The three are concentrated in the macula, the most sensitive part of the retina. The macula is responsible to our colour vision and visual acuity, essential for glare reduction, contrast sensitivity, visual reaction time and photo-stress recovery. All these are essential for performance excellence in sports. All the three carotenoids in combination comprises the protective “macular pigment”.
Visual performance, eye carotenoids & the research
Many different studies supports the importance of macular pigment in maintenance and enhancement of vision abilities, essential for sports excellence. Some of the most important research findings indicate;
- Daily nutritional supplement of zeaxanthin, lutein and meso-zeaxanthin (the three eye carotenoids) improves visual performance of individuals with either average visual acuity or below normal level of macular pigment.
- 53 adults participated in a medical study under which they were given daily supplement of lutein (10 milligrams), zeaxanthin (2 milligrams) and meso-zeaxanthin (10 milligrams). The outcome in terms of visual performance was then compared with likewise aged 53 individuals who’ve had their carotenoids supplements but not all three.
- The research concluded significant improvement in contrast sensitivity among those who’ve had their multiple supplements of carotenoids.
Carotenoids as an eye supplement
Many other researches showed the importance of macular pigment on vision performance after which professional athletes and even amateur sports players use carotenoids as an eye supplement. Even an eye doctor in Dubai recommend carotenoid supplements for various sporting activities and improvement of overall vision.
Like every other medicine or supplements, carotenoids must be taken after doctor’s recommendation for which consultancy is crucial!