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Vitamin E, Antioxidant, Zinc Combination Useful for Aging Eyes
Washington DC, 12 March 2002

The role of Vitamin E and other antioxidants in helping fight off age-related macular degeneration "may have tipped the balance" in providing convincing evidence of the health effects of vitamin supplements, according to Dr. Thomas H. Lee, editor in chief of the Harvard Health Letter.

"Until recently, the evidence that supplements would do any good just wasn't very convincing," he said. "But results from a large and persuasive study by the National Eye Institute . . . may have tipped the balance."

Nutrient combination inhibits progression of age-related macular degeneration

The National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), recently found that a combination of antioxidants and zinc reduced the odds that people with moderate age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease affecting vision, would progress to an advanced condition. Daily doses, including Vitamin E supplements of 400 international units, were used in a six-year test of patients.

Many people these days are asking about treatment for age-related macular degeneration, or ADM, Dr. Lee writes in the Harvard Health Letter -- "perhaps women especially, because they're twice as likely to develop the condition as men."

In the National Eye Institute study, researchers divided patients into four groups and followed them on average for more than six years. At the end of the study, the group that took a combination of antioxidants, including Vitamin E, with zinc had the lowest risk -- 20 percent -- of progressing to a more advanced stage of macular degeneration.

Zinc plus antioxidants provide most significant benefits

"It was only the zinc-antioxidant combination that met the statistical test for reducing the odds of people developing advanced AMD," Dr. Lee said. "Overall, the results did show some modest benefits from taking just the zinc or just antioxidants. But it was really the combination that made the difference."

"These good results for macular degeneration were a pleasant surprise" in the continuing research on the health role of antioxidants, Dr. Lee said. "The data suggest that for people with macular degeneration, antioxidant and zinc supplementation might help keep it from getting worse."


Foods for the Future, via PR Newswire, 12 Mar 2002.end-of-story


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