Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Vitamins For Macular Degeneration: FAQ

Here are our answers to some of the Frequently Asked Questions about vitamins and Macular Degeneration (AMD):

1) Do I HAVE to take special vitamins?

Of course not! However, taking high doses of anti-oxidant vitamins per the AREDS1 and 2 studies is thus far the only known way to prevent progression and vision loss from AMD

2) If I don't take the vitamins will I go blind?

There is no way to know if any one individual person will lose vision from AMD. Everyone is different, and we can only tell you what the odds are from the research available.

3) If I take the vitamins am I guaranteed to not lose my vision?

Unfortunately the same answer applies here: we can only say that taking the antioxidant vitamins in the AREDS doses will reduce the number of people who lose vision, and the amount of vision lost, when we look at a large group of people.

4) Are there side effects from the vitamins?

Some people have some stomach issues from taking any vitamins, and AMD vitamins are no different. In addition, the pills are rather big, and if you have trouble swallowing pills you may have trouble taking the AMD vitamins.

5) Who SHOULDN'T take AMD vitamins?

Smokers should not take high dosed of beta-carotene, the vitamin A form used in the AREDS vitamins.

6) Any other risks from taking these vitamins?

There are conflicting studies with results that don't agree about the risk of reduced bone density from taking high doses of beta-carotene. You should check with your family doctor if this is a concern.

7) What brand names should I look for?

This is one of the hard questions to answer because there are quite a few name brands, and within those brands there are some confusing choices. In general, if you plan to buy your vitamins at a store, "Preservision", "ICaps", and IVites" are good choices. SkyVision docs have chosen to provide Doctor's Advantage vitamins here in the office.  Look for info regarding these vitamins in upcoming blogs. 
8) What if I am taking a multivitamin? Should/can I keep taking it?

Another very hard question to answer because we are fans of multivitamins for people of all ages. You need to be careful not to over-do the anti-oxidants with AREDS vitamins + multivitamins. The math (adding up the doses and dividing between vitamins) can be complex, too complex for any doctor's office to do for you with store-bought vitamins. (Again, look for the upcoming post about vitamins from Skyvision). Aim for a total of the AREDS doses of Vitamin C, E, beta-carotene, Zinc and Copper between all your vitamins.

We hope that's helpful!

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