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Antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin reduce AMD chances

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), where sight deteriorates in the center of the field of vision, is the most common form of age-related blindness. Doctors believe antioxidants can slow the disease, and several long-term studies tested the effects of these supplements.

The basic eye supplement included 500 mg of vitamin C, 400 IU vitamin E, 15 mg beta-carotene, 80 mg zinc, and 2 mg copper per day.

In the first study, 3,549 participants with early-stage AMD took the anti­oxidant supplement, with or without the zinc, or a placebo. After 10 years, those who had taken the antioxidants, with or without zinc, were 25-30 percent less likely to develop advanced AMD. Also, those who did take zinc were less likely to have passed away, especially from circulatory diseases.

In the second study, 4,203 participants who were more likely to progress to advanced AMD took the basic antioxidant formula, with or without beta-carotene, plus 10 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin; 350 mg of DHA with 650 of mg EPA, these four antioxidants together, or a placebo. After five years, while there was no overall effect on advanced AMD, those who had taken lutein and zeaxanthin instead of beta-carotene were slightly less likely to have advanced AMD compared to those who had taken beta-carotene.

Also, former smokers in the study who had taken beta-carotene had a higher incidence of lung cancer than those who had not. Doctors concluded lutein and zeaxanthin could be an appropriate substitute for beta-carotene in the antioxidant eye formula.

In a separate analysis of the second study above, doctors ranked the 4,203 participants according to lutein and zeaxanthin in the diet. Those who got the least lutein and zeaxanthin from their diets were 32 percent less likely to need cataract surgery after adding lutein and zeaxanthin supplements.

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