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Vitamins and Minerals, for Eyes Only?

Emily Y. Chew, MD1
[+] Author Affiliations
1Clinical Trials Branch, Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications, National Eye Institute/National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2014;132(6):665-666. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2014.643.
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The recent editorial “Enough is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements” in the Annals of Internal Medicine denounces the use of multivitamin and mineral supplementation in the general population for the prevention or treatment of chronic diseases.1 The authors are likely correct and appropriate in their conclusions. Although there is a dearth of successes of nutritional supplement for the treatment of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and cognitive function, the combination of antioxidant vitamins and minerals, known as the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) supplement, has emerged as the only nutritional supplement to be beneficial in reducing the risk of developing late age-related macular degeneration (AMD), defined as choroidal neovascularization or central geographic atrophy.2 AREDS, a randomized controlled clinical trial, evaluated vitamins C (500 mg) and E (400 IU), beta-carotene (15 mg), zinc (zinc oxide, 80 mg), and copper (cupric oxide, 2 mg) for the therapy of AMD in 3640 participants, aged 55 to 80 years. The combination of the vitamins and minerals demonstrated a statistically significant 25% reduction in the progression to late AMD (odds ratio, 0.72; 99% CI, 0.52-0.98; P = .002) in persons with intermediate AMD, consisting of bilateral large drusen, or late AMD in 1 eye by 5 years, but not in the general population.

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