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Protect Your Eyes and Heart with These Vitamins

A study published in the March 2009 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine found that a combination of B vitamins may protect against a type of vision loss called age related macular degeneration (AMD).

AMD affects a part of the eye called the macula, which allows humans to see fine details. It is the leading cause of blindness for people over the age of 55. In fact, an estimated 25-30 million people worldwide suffer from the disease.

For some people the disease advances slowly, without significant loss in vision for a long period of time. In others, it progresses rapidly and can result in blindness.

For the study, researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital at Harvard Medical School analyzed data from a large heart health study that included 5,205 female healthcare professionals. All of the participants were over the age of 40 and considered to be at high risk for heart disease, although none had been diagnosed with AMD.

Participants were randomly split into two groups and assigned to receive a combination of folic acid, vitamin B6 and B12 or a placebo.

After an average of seven years of treatment and follow up there were 55 cases of AMD in the treatment group and 82 in the placebo group. That translated into a 34 % reduction in AMD risk among the B vitamin group when compared to the control.

In addition to eye health, B vitamins have been associated with a number of other health benefits. They promote cell growth, support metabolism and can lower levels of an amino acid called homocysteine.

High homocysteine levels are associated with and increased risk for a number of cardiac problems like heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

Early studies also indicate that B vitamins may lower the risk of Alzheimer's and certain cancers while deficiencies have been linked to brain shrinkage and birth defects.
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