Wednesday, July 15, 2015

To Supplement Or Not To Supplement

In the preceding post we discussed the need and the rationale for supplementation. We pointed out that the retina has a very high metabolic rate and is very susceptible to oxidative stress. We also pointed out that most adults eating the Standard American Diet (SAD are deficient in the nutrients needed to neutralize the free radicals produced by oxidation. A reasonable question to ask  is whether there is any hard data that that proves the effectiveness of micronutrients in reducing the incidence of macular degeneration. The answer is yes.

There have been two Age-Related Eye Disease Studies know as AREDS1 and AREDS2. These studies were designed to study the effect of diet and nutrition on the progression of age-related macular degeneration in patients who already have the disease.

What did we learn from these studies on the 3640 patients who qualified for the AMD study? In our opinion the most important finding was those patients who ate the Standard American Diet high in red meat, processed meats, high-fat dairy products, fried foods, refined grains and eggs were at a significant increased risk for developing AMD compared to those patients who ate the Asian diet high in the consumption of vegetables, legumes, fruit, whole grains, tomatoes and seafood.

The conclusion of the studies was that a healthy diet rich in vegetables and fish was sufficient to delay the onset of AMD. Dietary supplements should be given to patients who have a high genetic risk for developing macular degeneration and to those who do not eat an adequate diet.

We are frequently asked whether the AREDS formulation should be taken for general eye health if there are no anatomic risk factors for developing AMD. The answer to this an emphatic no. Pills are not a substitude for a healthy diet

Get more information in our book Live Longer Live Healthier

or visit our website at

Monday, July 13, 2015

Can You Prevent Age Related Macular Degeneration?

Age related macular degeneration affects an estimated 30 million people worldwide at an estimated cause of $300 billion dollars. The cause of this problem has been debated for years without  total agreement. Currently our understanding is that a number of factors are involved. First of all there is a genetic predisposition to develop macular degeneration. If someone in your immediate family has macular degeneration, your risk for developing it is about 70%. This is a higher rate of genetic predisposition than many other diseases.

Secondly, oxidative stress is a contributing factor. We have written extensively about oxidative stress in our book Live Longer Live Healthier. The retina is an organ that consumes large amounts of oxygen, a feature that makes it especially vulnerable to damage from free radicals that are produced as a by product of the cellular metabolism. To learn more about how free radicals are generated by your own body read the chapter on this subject in our book.

The third factor that contributes to the development of macular degeneration is environmental. Smoking is definitely a major causative factor. A poor diet is another. As we get older our metabolism tends to slow down and for most people less food is consumed. The aging body also has a reduced ability to absorb micronutrients from the gut contributing to nutrient deficiencies.

This problem is so severe that an estimated 5 to 10 % of adults over the age of 65 are clinically malnourished.  In another study it was found that 35% of patients in long term facilities were considered to be malnourished despite having access to proper nutrition. Furthermore a comprehensive nutritional survey in 2009 found that in patients over the age of 50, almost 50% did not meet their recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin C and 90% did not meet the RDA for betacarotene, lutein or zeaxanthin.

A large study on nutrition and macular degeneration performed in Rotterdam concluded that a healthy diet rich in green leafy vegetables and fish was sufficient to prevent or delay the onset of macular degeneration. Unfortunately most older adults do not eat enough of the foods necessary to meet these criteria; therefore there is the need to supplement with the necessary micronutrients. We will discuss this in our next post.

Get more information in our book Live Longer Live Healthier

or visit our website at