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Newsletter for September 2008



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  Keep Vision Sharp with These Key Nutrients

By Al Sears, MD

Worried about losing your eyesight in old-age?

Age-related macular degeneration, (AMD) affects more Americans than glaucoma and cataracts combined. As you grow older, your risk increases dramatically.

Fortunately, there's plenty you can do to prevent it from happening to you. You're about to learn a few simple steps you can take to avoid it.

Two new studies have shown that age-related macular degeneration can be prevented through a diet containing the right amount of a few simple nutrients.

In the first study, researchers evaluated 4,519 people aged 60 to 80.1 Patients were first assessed for signs of macular degeneration.  If they had it, the researchers then determined how far it had progressed. Patients also completed a food questionnaire that measured intake of certain vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients such as fatty acids.

The researchers found that people who ate more fish -- more than two medium servings per week or more than one serving of broiled or baked fish -- were least likely to have the disease.

A second team of researchers analyzed data from 7,752 people taking part in a large national study between 1988 and 1994. Eleven percent of the patients had AMD.2 Here they found that vitamin D was associated with reduced risk of early AMD, but not advanced AMD.

When participants were split into five groups based on the level of vitamin D in the blood, those in the highest group had a 40% lower risk of early AMD than those in the lowest group. Vitamin D may cut the risk of early age-related macular degeneration by reducing inflammation or preventing blood vessel growth in the retina.

While these new studies are helpful, they don't tell the whole story. There are a number of other essential nutrients that can also reduce the risk of AMD and improve your eyesight.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that go hand in hand to stave off AMD. They are the most potent combination of carotenoids we know of. Lutein and zeaxanthin are naturally present in the retina, and highly concentrated in the macula.

Multivitamins often include only vitamin A and beta-carotene. Some manufacturers don't realize the importance of mixed carotenoids. Others don't include them to keep costs down. Make sure to look at the label of your multivitamin. It should say, "mixed carotenoids" or list carotenoids separately.

People with higher concentrations of these two carotenoids in the retina tend not to develop AMD because they increase the density of macular pigment. The higher the density, the more protection your eyes have.

Tocopherols (types of vitamin E) are another mixture of potent eye protectors. Tocopherols are powerful free radical destroyers. JAMA published a study which proved that increased intake of these nutrients lowered the risk of AMD.3

The best way to get tocopherols is as a mix. There are four types of tocopherols. Look for supplements that say, "mixed tocopherols." I recommend 400 IU of mixed tocopherols a day.

By upping your intake of these key nutrients now, you'll go a long way to protect yourself from the most common cause of vision loss in old age.


  1. "The Relationship of Dietary Lipid Intake and Age-Related Macular Degeneration in a Case-Control Study: AREDS Report No. 20 Age-Related Eye Disease Study Research Group," Archives of Ophthalmology 2007; (125):671-679.
  2. "Association Between Vitamin D and Age-Related Macular Degeneration in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988 Through 1994." Archives of Ophthalmology, Niyati Parekh et al, 2007; (125)661-669.
  3. Van Leeuwen et al. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2005. 294:3101-3107.

[Ed. Note: Dr. Sears, Chairman of the Board of Total Health Breakthroughs, is a practicing physician and the author of The Doctor's Heart Cure The Doctor's Heart Cure. Heis a leading authority on longevity, physical fitness and heart health.







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