Antioxidant Supplements may cut the macular degeneration risk

Eating right can cut down on your risk of a leading cause of blindness, reveals a new study from Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

There, researchers tracked the dietary habits of over 4,000 middle-aged people for eight years. They found those whose diets included the most beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc had the lowest risk of developing macular degeneration.

In fact, the researchers say people whose diets included the highest levels of these antioxidants were 35-percent less likely than others to develop the condition.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disorder of the central part of the retina and is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in developed countries.

“This study suggests that the risk of AMD can be modified by diet; in particular by dietary vitamin E and zinc,” says lead author Redmer van Leeuwen, M.D, Ph.D.

Vitamin E-rich foods include whole grains, vegetable oil, eggs and nuts. Carrots, kale and spinach are the primary sources of beta carotene. High concentrations of zinc can be found in meat, poultry, fish, whole grains and dairy products.

Other studies reveal mega doses of antioxidant dietary supplements may cut the risk of macular degeneration by as much as a quarter. But scientists say this study turned up little evidence of a protective benefit from supplements.

“Based on this study, foods high in these nutrients appear to be more important than nutritional supplements. Until more definitive data are available, this information may be useful to persons with signs of early AMD or to those with a strong family history of AMD,” say the authors.

SOURCE: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2005;294:3140-3142

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