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B Vitamins May Ward off Macular Degeneration

[caption id="attachment_242" align="alignleft" width="221" caption="Macular degeneration is a leading cause of vision loss in the elderly "][/caption] A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that women over the age of 40 who took vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid had a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Women who took the supplements for seven years had a 41 percent lower risk of developing AMD than those given a placebo. Age-related macular degeneration is the number one cause of blindness among people over the age of 65. It is estimated that as many as 12 million Americans could get macular degeneration each year, and about 10% of these will suffer severe central vision loss. AMD can make reading or recognizing faces difficult, although enough peripheral vision remains to allow other activities of daily life. Previous? studies have drawn a correlation between AMD and blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine are associated with dysfunction of the blood vessel lining, and that could provide a clue as to why these supplements helped to ward off the disease. "It's fairly well-established that folic acid, B6 and B12 can reduce blood levels of homocysteine, so there's a reason to suspect a possible benefit," said William Christen, the leader of the study. Dr. Krawitz's addendum: Nancy has correctly summarized the published findings of the authors. However, criticisms of this study have been numerous and from scientists without a profit agenda. While homocysteine levels can induce heart disease, the patients in this study had pre-treatment homocysteine levels that were within the normal range. Thus, the failure to see benefit against cardiac disease may have been a result of this population of patients having heart disease that was NOT due to elevated homocysteine levels. Dr. Emily Chew, Director of the National Eye Institute, has been publicly critical of the eye findings as well, noting that the authors were not looking for a benefit against eye disease and instead "stumbled into the result." Dr. Chew steadfastly maintains that the authors' deviation from following the "null hypothesis" as a scientific norm makes the study results interesting, but highly inconclusive. Paul Krawitz, M.D., President VisiVite.Com [caption id="attachment_243" align="alignright" width="94" caption="Nancy Hirsch VisiVite.Com Certified Nutritionist"][/caption]

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