Ask Dr. J.: Is bilberry a useful herb for vision?

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Is bilberry a useful herb for vision?

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), is a relative of the common blueberry, but contains more of certain therapeutic compounds. It has a high content of a variety of anthocyanosides, which improve capillary and connective tissue strength. As with many plant pigments, it has antioxidant activity which protects us from free-radical damage. Bilberry also stimulates the production of visual pigment, which can help with night vision (the story has it that British aviators used it to help them with night missions during the war). I commonly recommend 100-300 mg daily of standardized extract.

Remember that any supplement program is not meant to substitute for a healthy diet, and there are always other nutrients that work together for various physiological functions (with vision, they include carotenoids, such as lutein, lycopene, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene, vitamins E and C, flavonoids and trace minerals).

When I have done Dr. Atkins diet or a fruit and vegetable fast I find exercise difficult. My muscles feel weak. What’s missing?

You may be missing complex carbohydrates. It is quite possible to be low in the complex carbohydrates, one of the main sources of sustained energy to the muscles. These would include beans and whole grains, or any high fiber food, which have many other health benefits, such as reduction of cancer and heart disease.

You might also need L-glutamine or L-arginine supplements, both of which are amino acids helpful for muscle strength and repair. Typical doses are 2-4 grams of each per day, or up to 8 grams of the glutamine.

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