Carrots good – vitamins better!

Study finds antioxidant vitamins prevent age-related vision problems:

Antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin E may protect the eyes against cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, according to a new special health report from Harvard Medical School. There’s some truth to the belief that “eating carrots is good for the eyes,” the Harvard publication said, but noted that diets containing more antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin E and vitamin C “are even better.”

The Harvard Health Letter said in its May issue that a recent government study finding that vitamin E and other vitamins and minerals may slow progression of macular degeneration “was a success.” The study, called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study or AREDS, was conducted by the National Institutes of Health. Doses used in the trial were 400 IU of vitamin E, 500 mg of vitamin C, 15 mg of beta-carotene, 80 mg of zinc, and 2 mg of copper.

The Harvard Health Letter pointed out, however, that the positive results were in people who already had moderate to serious macular degeneration, and that the vitamin-mineral combination hasn’t been shown to help “people who had no macular degeneration or only a mild case.” The Harvard publication recommended that patients don’t take vitamins and minerals for the condition until “an ophthalmologist has examined your eyes and determined that you’re a high-risk patient.”

More than a quarter of North Americans aged 75 or older show some signs of macular degeneration. Severe vision loss can result, “although no one goes totally blind from macular degeneration.”

Foods for the Future, May 13, 2003