August 2014

Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration

 

I have reviewed the literature on nutrition and Macular Degeneration. As usual there is little that is conclusive. However, there is some interesting information.

  • The process of slowing down or preventing AMD or in some article's ARMD (Age-Related Macular
          Degeneration) seems to be linked to the degree of free radical exposure during early life as well as to exposure to
          direct sunlight. The use of single antioxidants for example vitamin C, E, selenium alone shows little help in
          reversing or slowing down AMD. Tissue levels of these nutrients do not appear to vary from otherwise normal
     people.
  • However, when combinations of A, C, E and selenium are used the rate of progression slows down and there is
          question is some of the articles that there may even be reversal of damage.
  • Low levels of carotenoids (beta carotene - vitamin A being one such carotenoid) appears to be associated with AMD. Low tissue levels
          may also be a factor. High dose supplementation may prevent or help reverse AMD.
         The problem is not taking to much to reach toxic levels which have a significant danger on their own.
  • Very low levels of lycopene (the most abundant carotenoid within the body) is most closely related to AMD.
  •  


    Discussion

    No one really gives any suggestions in the articles I reviewed. This is an issue that requires much more evaluation. If an individual is developing macular degeneration, it would be smart to start, as soon as possible, on a diet high in carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium.

    Vitamin C is found primarily in citrus fruits. Oranges and tangerines are both high in vitamin A, which plays a role in proper bone growth and night vision A sufficient daily intake of fresh orange juice provides enough vitamin C for most purposes.

    Vitamin E is chemically known as alpha tocopherol, the most active of a group of tocopherols. It is present in seed oils, especially wheat-germ oil.

    Vitamin A is best taken in as Carotenoids, especially lycopene. Carotenoids are the orange or red pigments found in carrots, sweet potatoes, leafy vegetables, milk fat, egg yolk (the last two are not the best sources if one has a cholesterol problem or potential problem with atherosclerosis). These carotenoids exist in several form's alpha, beta (the best know to us is beta carotene) and gamma carotenes and are provitamins which are available to the body to convert to vitamin A.

    Selenium is found as a trace nutrient in many foods, especially vegetables, but unfortunately is not very well assimilated by the body.

    The problem with counting on diet as the primary source of these antioxidants is that they may not all be present in the foods you eat, at the same time and in the quantities that are necessary. When dietary access is in doubt, a correctly constructed supplement can provide all of what is necessary with reliability. Diet should still be the main stay of protection but supplements can be very valuable in supporting the diet and making sure that sufficient antioxidants are available to whatever is necessary. Finally, these antioxidants should be supported by a well-balanced vitamin-mineral product which contains B vitamins, magnesium, calcium, chromium, zinc, vitamin D (when necessary) and essential trace elements so that all other health needs are covered at the same time.

    I presently have a patient who is being treated for high cholesterol and atherosclerosis and one of the regimes that is being used is a high quality antioxidant. He also, coincidentally, has a well-established macular degeneration. He has been put on a commercially available, high quality vitamin-mineral combination with a power group of antioxidants and as a side affect of lowering his risk of heart disease his vision has improved, according to him, quite significantly. He has set up an appointment with his Ophthalmologist to have a reevaluation and presently this is pending.