Patients with early Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) improved when taking a combination of nutrients. The nutrients were acetyl-L-carnitine, omega-3 fatty acids, and coenzyme Q10.1
The double-blind trial was controlled with a soy oil placebo. The study included over 100 patients with AMD. They were assigned to take two capsules per day for 12 months of either the treatment capsule or the placebo. Nearly all of the subjects who took the supplements for one year showed significant improvement in visual acuity (Snellen Chart & ETDRS chart), foveal sensitivity and changes in the back of the eye. The fovea is the only part of the eye where 100% visual acuity is possible. Only 2% of these subjects had clinically significant worsening of their condition. But 17% of the control group who received a placebo got worse.
What are Drusen?
Drusen are yellow fat deposits under the retina associated with macular degeneration. They accumulate and distort the cells of the retina which damages central vision. The more drusen, the more likely a person will develop an advanced form of AMD. Study subjects who received the omega-3 fatty acids, acetyl-L-carnitine and coenzyme Q10 had statistically significant fewer drusen-covered areas of the eye versus the controls. The drusen-covered area decreased by 23% in the less-affected eyes of the treatment group. In the placebo group, there was a 13% increase of drusen.
Supplement Combination Helps Early AMD
The researchers concluded that a combination of supplements that affect mitochondrial lipid metabolism may help stabilize early AMD. Mitochondria are the energy-producing parts of cells. Mitochondria’s ability to break-down and utilize fats (lipids) is apparently at the core of the support. Intake of the nutrients below could be essential to stabilizing and improving visual function in early ARMD:
Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) is an amino acid that helps the body produce energy. A metastudy2 found it may reduce LDL cholesterol (Low-density lipoprotein – the bad kind). ALC is made by the body but it is possible to take supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold water fish, flaxseed oil, dark leafy vegetables and eggs. A large body of research shows their benefits to the heart, circulation system, cholesterol levels – as well as positive effects on macular degeneration.
CoQ10 helps cells metabolize food, enhances circulation and improves the heart. It is found in meat and vegetables, but does not survive the cooking process. CoQ10 is essential to energy production in the heart. It also has the ability to improve mitochondria metabolism. Issues with mitochondria function may play a role in AMD onset.
- Ophthalmologica. 2005 May-Jun;219(3):154-66. “Improvement of visual functions and fundus alterations in early age-related macular degeneration treated with a combination of acetyl-L-carnitine, n-3 fatty acids, and coenzyme Q10.” Feher J et. al. ↩
- Kidney Blood Press Res 2013;38:31-4, “Influence of L-Carnitine Supplementation on Serum Lipid Profile in Hemodialysis Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” Huang H. et. al ↩