NIH Study Provides Information on Supplements for the Use of Macular Degeneration

The NIH, as the National Institutes of Health is commonly abbreviated, has done research on age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is a leading cause of vision loss amongst older Americans. Nutritional supplements are being taken every day for people to help reduce their chances of vision loss. Omega-3 fatty acids had no improvement. Additionally, plant derived antioxidants such as zeaxanthin and lutein also had no significant effect on AMD.

A study did show that these plant derived antioxidants were safer than beta-carotene, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Many Americans are taking nutritional supplements to protect their vision but they are not being guided as to which ones to take and what the benefits and risks are.

AMD is currently incurable and is quite common amongst older people, causing people to lose not only their sight but their independence as well. A study as conducted by NIH’s National Eye Institute done in 2001 showed that high doses of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta-carotene and zinc and copper, known as the AREDS formula after the name of the study, showed that the progression of AMD can be significantly slowed.

However, the use of beta-carotene has been under much discussion because it is linked to a higher risk for lung cancer amongst smokers.

Other concerns include the high level of zinc causing an upset stomach with some people. In 2006, new studies were launched that added the omega-3 fatty acids, reduced the zinc and removed the beta-carotene to be replaced with other plant derived vitamins. Without the beta-carotene, the risk of developing AMD in advanced stages was reduced by 18 percent in comparison to the formula with. When lutein and zeaxanthin were added into the mix, the reduction was 25 percent – a significant improvement. While combinations are still being created, herbal combinations have been positive when reducing the development of advanced AMD.

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