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B Vitamins for Cataracts

Increased dietary intakes of B vitamins are associated with reduced incidence and decreased risks of developing different forms of cataracts in older people, says new data from the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) Research Group.

In particular, vitamins B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6, and B12 were all associated with a protective effect against cataracts, according to data from 3115 people aged between 55 and 80 (who were followed up for an average of 9.6 years).

“The totality of evidence from our study and other studies suggests that B vitamins may have a role
in slowing cataract development,” wrote the authors. “However, additional evidence would be needed to make definitive clinical recommendations. Identification of micronutrients that retard cataract progression would serve as a cost-effective way to reduce the disease burden of age-related cataracts.”

Commenting on the potential mechanism of action, the authors note that cataract development may be linked to oxidative stress, and that B vitamins may help to maintain eye health by functioning as cofactors in the enzymatic activation of antioxidants. I devote several pages in my book on B vitamins, so those who've read it, will be able to see some links between this study and mechanisms I presented in the book.

Also, “it is biologically plausible that their importance may be attributed to their function in the metabolic pathway that eliminates homocysteine, wherein vitamins B12 and B6 act as enzymatic cofactors,” they wrote.

“These findings are consistent with earlier studies suggesting that dietary intake of B vitamins may
affect the occurrence of age-related lens opacities,” they concluded.

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Source: The Association of Dietary Lutein plus Zeaxanthin and B Vitamins with Cataracts in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study: AREDS Report No. 37

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