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Folate May Help Reduce Risk of Serious Eye Disease

Exfoliation glaucoma occurs as a result of a buildup of material on the lens of the eye, and can lead to visual impairment and blindness. A recent study suggests that folate (also known as vitamin B9) may help reduce the risk of developing exfoliation glaucoma.

Participants in the study included 78,980 women and 41,221 men who were at least 40 years old and did not have glaucoma at the onset of the study. All of them completed dietary questionnaires to determine folate intake, and all of them completed an eye exam during the 20-year follow up period.

During the study period, 339 cases of glaucoma were reported via questionnaires and confirmed with medical records. The researchers examined the data and found that vitamin B9 was associated with a reduced risk of developing exfoliation glaucoma. However, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 were not found to have an association.

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on April 3, 2014, in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Folate is a B vitamin that plays an essential role in the necessary functions of the human body, including nervous system function, red blood cell formation, and hormone function. Previous studies have found a potential link between folate and reductions in the risk of stroke, hearing loss and birth defects.

Our bodies do not naturally synthesize B vitamins. However, it is easy to increase your intake by eating more folate- rich foods. Some foods rich in folate include liver, eggs, beans, sunflower seeds, asparagus, leafy green vegetables, oranges, strawberries, cantaloupes, and other melons. Folic acid can be found in supplement form and as an additive in foods such as bread, cereal and grains.

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