What Is The Best Supplement For Macular Degeneration?
Macular Degeneration Explained
The macular is a fundamental part of the eye’s retina. Around 5mm in width, it’s responsible for all of our central vision… in other words, it’s pretty important!
As with any part of the body, however, the macula is vulnerable to range of different diseases, with age-related macular degeneration one of the most common. A huge 600,000 people in the UK live with macular degeneration – in fact, it’s the biggest cause of sight loss in the developed world.
AMD and lifestyle choices
AMD can hit anyone, unfortunately – especially as we age and our bodies begin to become less efficient in all manner of ways.
There’s a fairly healthy pile of research out there, however, that confirms that diet can have a big impact on both overall eye health and AMD specifically. Here are a few example:
- Those that eat high levels of saturated fat have been proven more likely to develop AMD
- Those that eat fish three times a week are less likely to suffer
- Diets packed with dark green, leafy vegetables are also more likely to slow down AMD’s progression and stave f loss of vision. In fact, experts recommend eating a whopping 5-9 serving of veggies a day to help maintain optimal eye health.
So why is this?
The veggie factor
Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, mustard greens and collard greens contain high levels of lutein, a critical antioxidant. This is important because antioxidants protect against oxidation – a key part of the AMD development process.
You can also find these antioxidants in brightly coloured fruit and vegetable like melons, oranges, peppers, red grapes and mango. As a quick rule of thumb, the more colourful, the better!
So why are fish fans less likely to suffer from AMD? Fish is packed full of omega-3, which plays an important role in both heart and eye health. Salmon or sardines are great choices for this, along with omega 3 supplementation.
Researchers have found that while all fat consumed makes a difference to AMD, it’s saturated fat that really impacts AMD. We recommend trying to focus on good fats like olive oil or avocado and cutting down on high fat animal products and dairy products to help protect from AMD.
The supplement route
A ten-year project, The Age-Related Eye Disease Study, dealt closely with 3,500 sufferers of MD and found a number of essential compounds and vitamins proven to slow down the progression of AMD and associated vision loss. These are now widely considered as standard treatments for the condition, and are found in most eye care supplements.
- 500mg vitamin C
- 400IU vitamin E
- 15mg betacarotene
- 80mg zinc
- 2mg copper
A second two-year project saw betacarotine removed and replaced by the more effective lutein and zeaxanthin:
- 500 mg Vitamin C – an essential antioxidant
- 400 IU Vitamin E – an essential antioxidant
- 80 mg zinc – has powerful antioxidant properties
- 2 mg copper – zinc supplementation can cause copper deficiency, so this needs to be added
- 10 mg lutein – a carotenoid that helps protect against light-induced eye damage
- 2 mg zeaxanthin – a carotenoid that helps protect against light-induced eye damage
Getting it right
Treatments for AMD are constantly being developed – it’s a fast-moving area with new products popping up left, right and centre. But that comes with its own set of risks in terms of quality, as the supplement industry lacks the stringent regulations as the prescription drug industry. One NIH study, for example, unearthed a number of supplements targeting eye health that when examined, didn’t contain the amounts of nutrients featured on the label. So in other words, buyer beware!
It’s not all bad news, though – as with anything there are good and bad options out there. Protect yourself by always examining labels closely, ensuring that they contain at least some of the ingredients listed above.