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Foods rich in multiple nutrients promote eye health

15 Sep 2020

Increased dietary intake of multiple nutrients, such as minerals, vitamins, and carotenoids, protects against the risk of progression to late age-related macular degeneration (AMD), specifically geographic atrophy (GA), according to a study.  

Researchers conducted a posthoc analysis of the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS; recruitment 1992-8; n=4,504) and AREDS2 (recruitment 2006-8; n=3,738). The mean age of the participants was 71.0 years, and 56.5 percent were women.

Over a median follow-up of 10.2 years, 32.7 percent of the 14,135 eyes examined progressed to late AMD based on fundus photographs.

Data from food frequency questionnaires revealed that the risk of late AMD was significantly low among participants with higher intake of the following nutrients: vitamins A, B6, and C, folate, β-carotene, lutein/zeaxanthin, magnesium, copper, and alcohol (intake quintiles 4 or 5 vs 1, p≤0.0005). On the other hand, a risk increase was observed among those with higher intake of the following: saturated fatty acid, monounsaturated fatty acid, and oleic acid.

Similar results were observed for GA.

In terms of neovascular AMD, nine nutrients were slightly protective (vitamins A and B6, β-carotene, lutein/zeaxanthin, magnesium, copper, docosahexaenoic acid, omega-3 fatty acid, and alcohol). Furthermore, consistent with the results for late AMD, saturated fatty acid, monounsaturated fatty acid, and oleic acid were associated with a risk increase.

In a separate analysis, which involved 5,399 eyes of 3,164 AREDS participants, the same nutrients tended to be protective as well against large drusen development.

The present data indicate that strong genetic interactions exist for some nutrient-genotype combinations, particularly between omega-3 fatty acids and CFH, the researchers said. They called for further research into underlying mechanisms and randomized trials of supplementation.

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