Macular Degeneration Vitamins
We often hear about vitamins and mineral supplements being good for our joints, bones, memories and immune defense systems, but research into vitamins as a prevention or cure for macular degeneration is reaching some interesting conclusions.
Age related macular degeneration is a common disease in older people. It involves the deterioration of the tissue in the very central part of the retina, known as the macula. This condition affects the ability for sufferers to look straight ahead and see clearly. This mainly affects driving, reading and recognizing faces. Currently there is no cure for macular degeneration, although it is known that high doses of Vitamins A, C E and the mineral zinc do slow down the progress of this disease. These vitamins are all anti-oxidants and were conclusively found to slow down macular degeneration in a ten year eye disease study carried out by the National Eye Institute.
There are two types of macular degeneration: dry and wet. Read more about them in the article on Macular Degeneration Symptoms. Unfortunately vitamins do not help if wet macular degeneration is diagnosed and often laser surgery or injections are used to treat this more serious form of the disease.
New Clinical Trials
Currently researchers are exploring the effectiveness of Vitamins B6 and B12 along with Folic Acid taken as a supplement as an effective prevention of age related macular degeneration. The study was carried out under Epidemiologist William G. Christen Sc.D and he is hopeful that this is the first step in an effective preventative measure against the disease. The study was carried out on 5442 women over 40 years of age, but the results are likely to be matched in a similar trial on groups of men. The double blind, randomized clinical trial lasted for 7 years.
The women in the trials had a 34% lower risk of developing dry macular degeneration than those who took the placebo - a significant reduction. They were also 41% less likely to develop more severe forms of age related macular degeneration.
Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid were used in the trials as they are known to lower natural levels of Homocysteine which is found in suffers of macular degeneration to be at elevated levels. Interestingly these Vitamins are all found in daily multivitamins, although at much lower levels, and only time will tell whether taking a one-a-day multivitamin is actually preventing macular degeneration from developing in many older people. Let's hope the solution really is that simple.
Current Vitamin Recommendations for those Diagnosed with Dry Macular Degeneration
For those at high risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, the only way it can be diagnosed is by having regular eye checks with an ophthalmologist. Those diagnosed with dry macular degeneration are recommended to take the following vitamin supplements daily, after consulting with their doctor:
- Vitamin C 500mg
- Vitamin E 400 International Units (IU)
- Beta-Carotene 15mg (often labeled as equivalent to 25,000 IU of Vitamin A)
- Zinc Oxide 80mg
- Copper (taken as Cupric Oxide) 2mg
High levels of zinc may cause copper deficiency anemia so copper is also recommended to counter this side effect. These amounts are many times above the levels recommended by the Food and Drug Administration as being our daily requirements.
Certain formulas currently on the market are manufactured as AREDS, a formula for Age Related Eye Disease Study. VisiVite requires one tablet a day and is suitable for smokers and ex-smokers. It does not include Beta-Carotene which may be harmful to those already at risk of lung cancer. It also includes natural rather than synthetic Vitamin E. The other two AREDS formulas are marketed under the brand names Ocuvite and ICaps and they require two tablets a day.
These vitamins and minerals are also found in green leafy vegetables and can easily be incorporated into the diet. Daily supplements of lutein and zeaxanthin are also good for healthy eyes. Giving up smoking is highly recommended and wearing good quality sunglasses to protect the eyes from ultraviolet rays also help prevent or slow down the progress of age-related macular degeneration.
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