Progress of Macular Degeneration Antioxidant Supplementation

Progress of Macular Degeneration Antioxidant Supplementation

It has been known for years among eye professionals and laypeople alike that certain vitamin and mineral supplements may protect against macular degeneration. As science continues to explore the vast amount of possible natural supplements it continues to uncover some of the most significant and simplistic preventative nutritional applications.

Some of these applications you can easily be implementing into your daily life for overall visual and systemic health. This is yet another non-medical approach to a serious problem necessarily robbing millions of their sight everyday.

The Antioxidant Question

There have been many conflicting studies regarding the validity of how antioxidants may enhance your systemic health. Some cite that it is a marketing craze to take advantage of the billion dollar plus CAM (complimentary and alternative medicine) industry. Others point to the overwhelming evidence through peer reviewed, bipartisan, non-agenda scientific studies which continue to show the benefits of antioxidants, particularly for preventing age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

A recent report by Medical News Bulletin showed significant results when applied to smokers with AMD. The report cites a Korean study of 1,414 male participants with at least one eye diagnosed with AMD. It was published in Nutrition Journal and compared the correlation between antioxidant consumption and those with AMD who smoke cigarettes.

It was stated that,

“Smoking has been classified as the leading environmental factor contributing to age-related macular degeneration. Toxins found in cigarettes cause the circulating antioxidants within the body to deplete. These risk factors can be counteracted by a healthy intake of fruits and vegetables…among smokers, the risk of macular degeneration decreased as consumption of antioxidants increased”

Researchers deduct from this and many other similar studies that if specific antioxidants are applied on a daily basis, the results of positively reversing negative visual results in smokers can only benefit those that do not smoke as well.

Tomato and Rosemary

New research shows how scientists at Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Israel found exceptional benefits of adding “the phytonutrient combination of tomato and rosemary to the already well-researched AREDS composition”.  The National Eye Institute describes AREDS consisting of:

  • 500 milligrams of vitamin C
  • 400 International Units (IU’s) of vitamin E
  • 15 milligrams of beta-carotene (often labeled as equivalent to 25,000 IU’s of vitamin A)
  • 80 milligrams of zinc as zinc oxide
  • 2 milligrams of copper as cupric oxide (Copper was added to the AREDS formulations containing zinc to prevent copper deficiency anemia, a condition associated with high levels of zinc intake)

It turns out that lycopene found in tomatoes and carnosic acid found in rosemary work in tandem with the ARED formulation thus enhancing it’s ability to prevent AMD.

As reported by Nutritional Outlook with comments from Karin Hermoni, head of the science and nutrition team at Lycored (the company which manufactures this enhanced formula) it was stated that,

“This study allowed us to finally reveal the pivotal and synergistic role that it plays in vision protection.” The research also suggests that lycopene “sacrifices” itself to lutein by protecting the latter from oxidation and permitting its effective transport to the eye. “The current study emphasizes that although lycopene does not contribute directly to macular pigmentation—like lutein does—it works in tandem with the other nutrients to help create the most potent combination of eye-protecting nutrients.”

The results of this study as published in Molecular Vision conclude that,

“Combinations of lutein and carnosic acid with zinc and standardized tomato extract or with beta-carotene yielded an antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and antiangiogenic [inhibits the growth of new blood vessel] effect in M1 and M2 macrophages. These effects manifested in the upregulation of antioxidative genes and the downregulation of pro-angiogenic genes and pro-inflammatory genes. Lutein monotherapy or a combination of lutein and zinc had less effect on the expression of these genes…Combinations of supplements can modify the expression of genes and proteins that may be relevant for the involvement of macrophages in the pathogenesis of AMD.”

Unexpected Carotenoid

A carotenoid is “any of a class of mainly yellow, orange, or red fat-soluble pigments, including carotene (an orange or red plant pigment found in carrots and many other plant structures), which give color to plant parts such as ripe tomatoes”.

Astaxanthin is a solo carotenoid closely related to lutein and zeaxanthin, other carotenoids naturally found in the retina. This carotenoid is unexpected in its performance inasmuch that it cannot become pro-oxidant which means it won’t cause harmful, toxic oxidation in the body.

In nature, astaxanthin is found in its highest concentration in wild sockeye salmon, algae, crustaceans and other marine wildlife. Astaxanthin can also be taken in capsule form similar to omega-3 supplements.

LifeExtension reports that,

“In laboratory studies, astaxanthin supplementation protects retinal cells against oxidative stress and significantly reduces the area of destructive new blood vessel growth on retinas, a hallmark of advanced macular degeneration. Studies of patients with age-related macular degeneration reveal significant improvements in retinal electrical outputs following supplementation with astaxanthin and other carotenoids.”

Wet AMD Hope through Antioxidant Supplementation

Wet AMD is found in a small number of patients as dry AMD afflicts most with approximately 85-90% of sufferers. Wet AMD leads to more serious eye conditions on a more rapid trajectory. Yet, antioxidants which were once thought of as fruitless when it comes to wet AMD may now be worth applying.

A study published in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity (2017) looked at the “serum levels of malondialdehyde (MDA) in patients with wet age-related macular degeneration (wAMD), patients with dry AMD (dAMD), and patients without AMD and to evaluate the efficacy of nutritional supplementation for treating elevated serum MDA in patients with wAMD.”

MDA has long been considered a major factor in wet AMD affliction yet scientists had no way of preventing its production. Now, it seems that antioxidant supplements such as AREDS, tomato (lycopene) and rosemary (carnosic acid) may help even the most detrimental macular degeneration development.

The study concluded that,

“…we demonstrated that elevated serum MDA levels were directly associated with the area of CNV [choroidal neovascularization – development of new blood vessel growth] lesions in eyes with wAMD [wet AMD] and that nutritional supplements appear to protect the eyes from systemic oxidative damage.”

Only science can prove how antioxidants affect your body. When it comes to macular degeneration antioxidant supplemental progress this new information solidifies the many other studies it leans upon. Overall, maintaining a plant-based diet of clean, unprocessed, organic (if possible) fruits, vegetables, grains and more may be the main ticket you need to enhance your systemic health, including optimal vision longevity.