Question: Can you explain how B vitamins help eyesight?
Dr. Brownstein’s Answer:
Scientists recently studied whether there was a relationship between vitamin B12 and folic acid (also known as vitamin B9) and macular degeneration. The Blue Mountains Eye Study of common diseases followed 1,390 subjects for up to 15 years, measuring homocysteine, folate, and vitamin B12 levels, and published their findings in the May 1, 2013 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Homocysteine is a protein produced in the body; it requires adequate levels of B12 and folic
acid to be metabolized. Elevated homocysteine may indicate vitamin B12 and/or folic acid deficiency. Compared to those with low homocysteine levels, the subjects whose levels were elevated (greater than 15 umols/L) had a 56 percent greater risk of macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S.
Everyone should have their homocysteine levels checked yearly because elevated homocysteine levels (greater than 10 umols/L) is cause for concern. If an elevated level of homocysteine is detected, further research into B-vitamin levels (particularly vitamins B12
and B6 along with folic acid levels) should be initiated.
If they are low, supplementing with B vitamins can lower homocysteine levels in the vast
majority of patients. Keeping your homocysteine low may not only benefit your eyes — it can also lower your risk of blood clotting disorders such as heart disease and stroke.
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