B Vitamin Deficiency May Lead To Macular Degeneration

B Vitamin Deficiency May Lead To Macular Degeneration

Not long ago, humans were unaware of the importance of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and more. This lack of knowledge led to certain diseases such as scurvy (vitamin C deficiency), anemia (low iron) or rickets (lack of vitamin D). Today, what you eat may seem like a normal diet but you could be robbing your body of essential nutrients without even knowing it. Even if you take a multi-vitamin, you are still potentially missing the imperative, natural compounds found in wholesome foods or high quality supplements. As a result, just like past occurrence, even in these contemporary times you could be giving disease an opportunity to thrive. 

One disease that may be linked to a B vitamin deficiency is the development of macular degeneration. Although the AREDS (Age-Related Eye Disease Study I & II) set the gold standard for preventative supplementation, other deficiencies are continually showing up as potential threats to healthy vision. As macular degeneration and especially age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the number one leading cause of blindness in America today, B vitamin nutrient deficiencies should be addressed. 

The B Factor

B vitamins are important and vital for so many systemic functions. These essential nutrients are important in manufacturing and maintaining red blood cells, nerves and DNA. B vitamins help your body prevent: 

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Anemia
  • Birth defects
  • Depression 

Now, B vitamins may also help prevent macular degeneration. According to several studies, a deficiency in B12, as well as some other B vitamins, could lead to AMD. 

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) reported that, 

“An important but often overlooked aspect of B12 deficiency is the associated retinal damage. Considerable evidence explores that people with compromised B12 levels are more susceptible to development of age related macular degeneration (AMD) and the prevalence is much reduced in those taking cobalamin [B12] supplementation”

A ten year study of how B vitamins and amino acids affected vision was completed in 2013. Researchers from the Centre for Vision Research, Department of Ophthalmology and Westmead Millennium Institute, University of Sydney, Australia published the study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition titled ‘Homocysteine, folate, vitamin B-12, and 10-y incidence of age-related macular degeneration’ which concluded that,

“Elevated serum tHcy [total homocysteine – an amino acid] and folate [a form of vitamin B9] and vitamin B-12 deficiencies predicted increased risk of incident AMD, which suggests a potential role for vitamin B-12 and folate in reducing AMD risk.”

There is also evidence from a 2016 study by researchers at Tufts University in Boston, also published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which stated, 

“There is growing evidence of the importance of nutrition in age-related macular degeneration (AMD), but few studies have explored associations with folate and B vitamins…We investigated associations between dietary folate, B vitamins, and progression to GA [geographic atrophy – advanced AMD] and whether these associations might be modified by genetic susceptibility…High folate intake was associated with a reduced risk of progression to GA.”

Your B Loss

Are you deficient in B vitamins which are essential for so many aspects of your health? The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) recently reported, 

“A new study by researchers from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, has shown for the first time that a substantial number of adults over 50 are at risk of deficiency in vitamin B12 and folate (the natural vitamin linked to the dietary supplement, folic acid).”

Sing Health lays out a good list of possible symptoms associated with a

Vitamin B6 deficiency:

  • Anemia
  • Skin disorders such as seborrheic dermatitis
  • Inflammation of the mouth (oral ulcers)
  • Soreness and cracks at the corners of the mouth, chapped lips
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
  • Irritability, confusion and depression

Vitamin B9 deficiency (folate or folic acid):

  • Anemia
  • Mood changes (irritability, forgetfulness)
  • Sores in mouth 
  • Diarrhea

Vitamin B12 deficiency

  • Anemia
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
  • Memory lapses
  • Mood changes (mental confusion, agitation)
  • Unsteadiness and poor muscle coordination

Get It While You Can

There are a variety of foods you can get a good B vitamin fix from. In addition, supplements can also be used to maintain proper levels. Either way, when it comes to preventing macular degeneration, keeping your B vitamins in check is essential. 

Best food sources of vitamin B include:

  • Whole grains (brown rice, barley, millet)
  • Meat (red meat, organ meats like kidney or liver, poultry, fish)
  • Eggs and dairy products (milk, cheese)
  • Legumes (beans, lentils)
  • Seeds and nuts (sunflower seeds, almonds)
  • Dark, leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, collard)
  • Fruits (citrus fruits, avocados, bananas)

B vitamins are water soluble which means it is imperative that you replenish it daily as it will not store in your system. Therefore, in addition to eating the right kind of foods, a supplement is a surefire way to get your B’s. Supplements can be in many forms with some as simple as dissolving under your tongue. This sublingual delivery is highly effective as it surpasses your digestive tract and is absorbed through microscopic capillary walls to immediately enter your bloodstream. 

Archived research as reported by CNN showed that 

“A new study finds that women who took a combination of B6 and B12 vitamins along with a folic acid supplement had lower risks of developing age-related macular degeneration.” 

According to epidemiologist and study author William G. Christen, Sc.D., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, 

“the combination of these vitamins might become the first prevention method of early stages of age-related macular degeneration other than avoiding cigarette smoking.”

Even the renowned Blue Mountain Eye Study (BMES) cited B12 and folate as an important part of preventing AMD. As reported by To Your Health, the BMES stated that,

“Results showed that higher blood levels of homocysteine were associated with a significant increased risk of developing AMD, whereas higher levels of vitamin B12 were strongly associated with decreased risk of developing AMD…People with folate or vitamin B12 deficiency at the beginning of the study (baseline) were approximately twice as likely to develop AMD during the 10-year study period.”

Take the time to determine if you are deficient in B vitamins. Check for possible symptoms and then talk to your naturopathic doctor or conventional physician. Confirm any deficiency and prevent macular degeneration by starting a B vitamin protocol.