The primary cause of blindness in the developed world is age related macular degeneration (AMD), and the goal of this study was to see if the intake of antioxidants in the daily diet would prevent AMD. Careful records of food intake were studied by extensive interviews with 5836 people using questionnaires. The patients were followed an average of 8 years and 560 of the people interviewed later developed AMD.
The results showed that an above median intake of beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc resulted in a reduced risk of developing AMD by 35% when compared with patients with below median intake. Median or average intakes of the antioxidants were at or above the recommended daily allowance (RDA). High intakes of vitamin E and zinc were especially associated with reduced risk of AMD.
Of interest was the finding that supplement intake of the above anti-oxidants did not alter the results. This could be because the bioavailability or absorption of supplements may be different than the anti-oxidants in food.
Vitamin E is found in whole grains, vegetable oils, eggs and nuts. Zinc is found in meat, poultry, fish, whole grains and dairy products. Beta carotene is found in carrots, kale and spinach. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruit and juice, green peppers, broccoli and potatoes.
CONCLUSION: The results suggest that a high intake of specific antioxidants (vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc) from a regular diet can delay the onset of AMD.
NOTE: Omega-3 fatty acids are of benefit in macular degeneration.
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