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B vitamins, folic acid may protect vision

Supplements may guard against macular degeneration

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12:57pm, February 24, 2009

A combination of vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folic acid might protect women against age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the elderly, a new study finds.

Women taking this trio of vitamins in amounts well beyond the recommended daily doses were one-third less likely to develop macular degeneration than were people taking placebos, researchers report in the Feb. 23 Archives of Internal Medicine.

Cigarette smoking is known to increase a person’s likelihood of developing macular degeneration. Other than not smoking, there is little a person can do to limit risk, says study coauthor William Christen, an epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “This is the first trial to suggest a benefit” from vitamin B and folic acid, he says. “I’d like to see it corroborated in other populations.”

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