August 11, 2014

Hockey Nutrition: Looking at nutrients to improve vision

By Julie Nicoletti

Most people would be thankful to have 20/20 vision. After all, it is usually considered “perfect vision.”

For athletes, it might be another story. The limit of human vision is 20/8, meaning that someone with 20/8 vision could see from 20 feet what the average person could see from 8 feet away. Now that sounds perfect. Below average vision or vision that is below the sport’s standard could hinder an otherwise talented player’s rising career.

In addition to vision correction and vision training apps that train the brain to see better, you can support and protect your eyesight with certain nutrients. When I was growing up, my parents would tell me that carrots were good for my eyes. They were on the right track. Beta carotene, which is converted to Vitamin A in the body, is found in carrots as well as in sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, peaches, mango and dark green leafy vegetables. Vitamin A doesn’t actually improve vision, but it does act as a powerful antioxidant to help protect against night blindness.

Orange peppers and leafy greens like spinach, kale and mixed greens in a spring mix also contain two antioxidants — zeaxanthin and lutein — that not only reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts commonly seen in older people but also appear to have practical benefits for athletes. It makes perfect sense that the sooner a player can spot a puck, the longer he has to react to it. Finding the puck in the glare of rink lights and being less sensitive to light are benefits that add up to a competitive advantage. Plenty of reasons to eat your dark green leafy vegetables, right? Real food sources are the best place to start. Once you’re eating to compete, you might consider supplementing zeaxanthin and lutein.

Players spend hours and hours practicing, skating, lifting and conditioning, but how much time is spent on your nutrition? Eating to compete provides a competitive edge that might be enough to separate you during tryouts or a tournament, or might give you the energy, mental focus and vision to score the winning goal. Fuel the champion within.

Eye on info

For more information on eyesight, visit www.EyePromise.com, co-founded by Dr. Dennis Gierhard. Many thanks to Brian Gaffney for sharing the company’s research regarding EyePromise Vizual EDGE.

Julie Nicoletti is a nationally recognized sports nutritionist who specializes in coaching student and pro athletes to optimize performance and minimize the risk of injury through nutrition. As the founder of Kinetic Fuel Performance Based Nutrition, Julie combines her professional training as a registered pharmacist with her experience as a certified sports nutritionist to customize plans for athletes and teams enabling them to see transformative results. Learn more at www.kineticfuel.net

This article originally appeared in the August edition of the New England Hockey Journal. Click here to read the digital edition for free.

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Twitter: @kineticfuel1