Can vitamins and minerals affect AMD?

A scientific study called AREDS (Age-Related Eye Disease Study) has shown that some antioxidant vitamins and zinc may reduce the impact of AMD in some people.

The study found that people at higher risk for late- stage macular degeneration who followed a dietary supplement of vitamin C, E and beta-carotene, along with zinc, lowered the risk of the disease progressing to advanced stages by about 25 percent. The same treatment did not appear to achieve the same results among people without AMD, or within the first stages of the disease.

The nutritional supplements used by AREDS that proved to be beneficial contain:
  • Vitamin C (500 mg)
  • Vitamin E (400 IU)
  • Beta-carotene (15 mg)
  • Zinc oxide (80 mg)
  • Copper oxide (2 mg, to prevent the loss of copper associated with zinc supplements)
The levels of antioxidants and zinc that were shown to be effective in slowing AMD’s progression cannot be consumed through your diet alone. These vitamins and minerals are recommended in specific daily amounts as supplements to a healthy, balanced diet.

Some people may prefer not to take high dosages of antioxidants or zinc for medical reasons. The AREDS study did not reveal any evidence that the treatment may be toxic. However, beta-carotene may increase the risk of developing lung cancer among smokers, or those who have quit smoking recently.

Another large study in women showed a benefit from taking folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12. And a large study evaluating the benefits of lutein and fish oil (omega-3) is ongoing, though at this time, the appropriate daily dose of lutein or omega-3 supplementation is not clear.

Other studies have shown that eating dark leafy greens, yellow, orange and other colorful fruits and vegetables, rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, may reduce your risk for developing AMD.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.