A combination of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 may reduce the risk of any age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in women by 34%, and lower the risk of visually significant AMD by 41%according to a new study.
AMD is a degenerative retinal disease that causes central vision loss and leaves only peripheral vision. Early detection is often seen as the best means of prevention so that treatment or rehabilitation can be started early enough. But, links to diet have also been found, which led to the study.
The research was conducted at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and the findings were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. In the study, women at risk for AMD were given either a placebo or a combination of folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 over the course of seven years.
The combined B vitamin supplement was associated with a 34 per cent lower risk of any AMD and a 41 per cent lower risk of visually significant AMD, with beneficial effects of treatment showing up after approximately two years of follow-up, and remaining throughout the trial.
"The trial findings reported herein are the strongest evidence to date in support of a possible beneficial effect of folic acid and B vitamin supplements in AMD prevention," researchers said.
And, because they apply to the early stages of disease development, the results of the study appear to represent the first identified (besides not smoking) that can reduce the risk of AMD in individuals at an average risk.
"From a public health perspective, this is particularly important because persons with early AMD are at increased risk of developing advanced AMD, the leading cause of severe, irreversible vision loss in older Americans," they said.
Approximately 25 to 30 million people worldwide are affected by AMD, but awareness of the condition is low. And as the generation of Baby Boomers gets older, incidence of AMD is expected to be on the rise and triple by 2025. Currently, there are very few treatment options available for AMD, which makes prevention key. Not smoking and avoiding excessive sun exposure have been the best-known preventive steps.
It is believed that supplementation with vitamins B6 and B12, and folic acid may reduce homocysteine levels, reversing blood vessel dysfunction. It may also have antioxidant effects and improve function of blood vessels in the eye. Other nutrients that have been shown to lower the risk of AMD are the antioxidants vitamins C and E, and carotenoids beta-carotene and lutein.
To ensure that you are getting adequate amounts of the B vitamins, as well as antioxidants and caretenoids, take a complete daily supplement such as Basic Nutrient Support.
Our Vision Support formula provides additional support for eye health, with 17 nutrients such as lutein, l-glutathione and specialized antioxidants such as bilberry, blueberry and pine bark extract to protect your vision.