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Top 10 Brain and Visual System Nutrients

Not So Secret Nutritional Secrets For Healthy Brain and Visual System

Bill Patton


Eat your foods as your medicines, or you will have to eat your medicines as your foods.

~ Unknown, possibly Hippocrates

The quote above is believed to possibly have been attributed to Hippocrates the father of medicine, but many medical experts use this same statement as their own. In my house it was my mother. If you are like me, then you grew up with the idea that you should eat carrots and other great sources of Vitamin A / Betacarotene, for better eye sight. I have good news and bad news. The good news is that there is a lot that is known about the variety of nutrients in various foods that will help vision, the bad news is that you most likely will need to eat your vegetables and you will want more than just carrots. If you are a vegan, you might find it difficult to get the best nutrients in high enough concentrations, so I hope this information helps guide your thinking.

According to Dr. James McDonnell, a pediatric ophtalmologist at Loyala University Health System in Maywood, Ill., “Make a colorful plate, espThe ecially greens, blues and reds. Certain foods have distinct benefits to the eyes in addition to overall health, including many of the trendy superfoods such a kale, broccoli and sweet potatoes.” As you will see in the lists below, that different kinds of seafood are among the richest sources of nutritional benefit to developing and aging eyes.

This chapter is not meant to be exhaustive, so do your own research, but when you make your shopping list, you can look for all of these beneficial foods. Bless your children and aging parents with a great diet so that they will develop with their best vision, and such longer and better throughout their lifespan.

The Shopping List


helps from developing cataracts, macular degeneration and blindness.

Seaweed and Wild Salmon (not farmed) are excellent choices high in Astaxanthin.

• Salmon or Seaweed

• Shrimp

• Crab

• Lobster

• Red Trout

• Krill

Omega 3

"Studies show that individuals who ate oily fish such as tuna, sardines, herring and salmon at least once a week were 50 percent less likely to develop neovascular [wet] macular degeneration than those who ate fish less than once per week," McDonnell said.

What are the best sources of omega-3?

Fish sources Vegan sources Supplements

There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acid, which are called ALA, DHA, and EPA.

Plant sources, such as nuts and seeds, are rich in ALA, while fish, seaweed, and algae can provide DHA and EPA fatty acids. Eating a variety of omega-3 sources is important.

For each fish below, the serving size is 3 ounces (oz):

1. Mackerel - 0.59 g of DHA, 0.43 g of EPA

2. Salmon - 1.24 g of DHA, 0.59 g of EPA

3. Seabass - 0.47 g of DHA, 0.18 g of EPA

4. Oysters - 0.14 g of ALA, 0.23 g of DHA, 0.30 g of EPA

5. Sardines - 0.74 g of DHA. 0.45 g of EPA

6. Shrimp - 0.12 g of DHA, 0.12 g of EPA

7. Trout - 0.44 g of DHA, 0.40 g of EPA

8. Seaweed and algae - amounts vary widely

Seaweed, nori, spirulina, and chlorella are one of the few plant groups that contain DHA and EPA.

9. Chia seeds - 5.055 g of ALA per 1-oz serving. 10. Hemp seeds - 2.605 g of ALA in 3 tablespoons 11. Flaxseeds - 6.703 g of ALA per tablespoon. 12. Walnuts - 3.346 g of ALA per cup.

13. Edamame - 0.28 g of ALA per half cup

14. Kidney beans - 0.10 g of ALA per half-cup. 15. Soybean oil - 0.923 g of ALA per tablespoon


"Blueberries, bilberries and especially black currants contain high amounts of anthocyanins and help to maintain the health of the cornea and blood vessels in every part of the eye," McDonnell said. "They also help reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration as well as decrease inflammatory eye disease and diabetic retinopathy."

Black raspberries Black currants Blueberries Blackberries

Red cabbage Black plums Red radish

Red raspberries

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps prevent age-related macular degeneration and improve vision.

~ Oscar F. Chuyn

"Safe sun exposure, fish oils, fatty fish and, to a lesser extent, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks and certain mushrooms contain this master hormone, which acts on more than 4,000 genes," McDonnell said. He added that vitamin D3 supplementation has been shown to help prevent age-related macular degeneration, reduce retinal inflammation and improve vision.

Primary Sources



Mackerel Salmon

Foods fortified with vitamin D

Secondary Sources Beef liver


Egg yolks


Greens such as...


Spinach Romaine lettuce

...pack a nutrient called zeaxanthin.This nutrient, which McDonnell said reduces the risk of age-related macular degeneration, is found in dark green vegetables such as kale, broccoli, collards, raw spinach and romaine lettuce. "Lightly cooking these vegetables increases your body's ability to absorb these nutrients," McDonnell said.


"The best source is from organic eggs laid by pastured organic hens. You can also take supplements made from marigold flowers," McDonnell said.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin Combined

Dark Leafy Greens


Summer Squash


Brussels Sprouts






Marigold Flower Supplement


Citrus fruits



Red Wine


Red and Yellow Onions

You can find bioflavonoids in the pulp and white core that runs through the center of citrus fruits, green peppers, lemons, limes, oranges, cherries, and grapes. Quercetin is a highly concentrated form of bioflavonoids found in broccoli, citrus fruits, and red and yellow onions. Foods high in bioflavonoids may help you stay healthy. Hosts of experiments on bioflavonoids have suggested that these key nutrients help increase immune system activation. These biochemically active substances accompany vitamin C in plants and act as an antioxidant.


Beta-carotene, contained in carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale and butternut squash, protects you against night blindness and dry eyes, the eye doctor noted. It’s easy to get enough Beta-carotene through the following foods, so supplementation is not necessary and can be harmful if taken too often.

The foods highest in beta carotene include:

dark leafy greens - kale and spinach sweet potatoes



butternut squash cantaloupe

red and yellow peppers apricots



romaine lettuce paprika








My recommendation is to add 1 item from every nutrient group. Keep in mind that the items high on the list are better sources, so go as high on the list as you can. Be sure to mix things up, trying some new foods, herbs and spices to keep it interesting.

Bill Patton is available to talk about practical brain science for athletic performance to schools, leagues, teams and one on one with players. Reach out for more information to

He has been coaching for 30 years, is the author of 12 books, including 6 in print. He has coached athletes, coaches, authors, spiritual leaders, military officers, musicians, at-risk students, people who suffer from math anxiety, and his teams are always the most improved in league, pulling off major upsets and winning championships no one though they could win.

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