Vitamins B6 & B12, folic acid (1991, 2009) - lower risk of macular degeneration


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1991 In patients with macular degeneration where the fatty deposits known as drusen have become 'soft', a vitamin B6 deficiency was found. Drusen are associated with aging and are a few hard drusen are considered normal, but macular degeneration is associated with more soft drusen.

Researchers: B. Lane, et al., Annuals of the Meeting of the American College of Nutrition, 1991

2009 In the first rigorous trial to show a benefit against macular degeneration from the supplements folic acid and 2 B-vitamins. Researchers found that women who took the combination for several years had a significantly lower chance of developing the condition.

Women who took a combination of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 had a 35 percent to 40 percent lower risk of developing age-related macular degeneration compared to a matched control group of women who took a placebo.

The finding was unexpected. In the Women's Antioxidant & Folic Acid Cardiovascular Study the researchers had been evaluating the benefits of these nutrients on the risk for heart attacks and strokes in at-risk women.

The study included over 5,000 women who were 40 or older. Most of these women had not previously been diagnosed with macular degeneration. The women were given the vitamin B trio or placebo and tested at the beginning of the study period and again after an average of 7.3 years. At that time 55 cases of AMD had developed in the women who had been taking the B vitamins, and 82 cases in the placebo group.

These three B-vitamins, particularly folic acid, have been shown to reduce high levels of the naturally occurring compound, homocysteine. Research has implicated elevated plasma levels of homocysteine in the development of vascular diseases including choroidal neovascularization in exudative AMD.

Researchers: W.G. Christen, et al,
Published: Folic acid plus B-vitamins and age-related macular degeneration in a randomized trial in women. Archives of Internal Medicine, February, 2009.