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Omega-3s, Lutein, and Zeaxanthin May Help With Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a condition that causes vision problems as a result of the loss of yellow pigment in a person's eye as they age. A recent study suggests that long-term supplementation with lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3s may help rebuild that pigment and improve the vision of people with AMD.

Lutein and zeaxanthin create the yellow pigmentation of the macula, which is the part of the eye that provides protection from damaging blue light. If the yellow macular pigment is too thin, blue light can penetrate the retina and cause long term damage.

The study included 172 participants with dry AMD. Over the course of twelve months, they participated in one of three interventions:

1. a placebo;

2. 10 mg lutein, 1 mg zeaxanthin, 100 mg DHA omega-3s, 30 mg EPA omega-3s;

3. 20 mg lutein, 2 mg zeaxanthin, 200 mg DHA omega-3s, 60 mg EPA omega-3s.

After only month month, the researchers noted improvements in the optical density of macular pigment and in blood levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in both of the supplementation groups while no change was noted in the placebo group.

There was no difference in the level of improvements between the two different doses of supplements, suggesting that the lower doses are sufficient to aid people with AMD.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany. It was published online ahead of print on March 21, 2013, in JAMA Ophthalmology.

This study adds to the growing body of research showing that these important nutrients are essential for eye health. Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only carotenoids able to build macular pigment.

Omega-3s have a host of benefits beyond eye health. They have been shown to improve inflammation, mood, joint mobility, heart health, and the immune system.

If your diet is low in fruits and vegetables, if you smoke cigarettes or regularly consume alcohol, you are at higher risk for developing AMD. Consuming more green vegetables, corn, and egg yolk can help increase your intake of lutein and zeaxanthin.

For higher omega-3 levels, consider eating more oily, dark fish such as tuna and salmon, which are high in DHA and EPA. If you don’t like fish or you’re worried about the high mercury levels found in some fish, consider taking a high quality supplement that has been tested for purity and potency.

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