The vitamins most commonly recommended for macular degeneration include vitamins necessary for eye health, like vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene and some antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin C. Some dietary minerals, like zinc, may also slow the progression of macular degeneration and vision loss. Other nutrients that may play a role in macular degeneration prevention include antioxidant plant compounds and omega-3 fatty acids.
One of the most well-known and productive studies of macular degeneration vitamins involved using a combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-cartone, zinc, and copper. These particular macular degeneration vitamins were chosen for study because it seemed people with a deficiency in one or more of each nutrient was at a greater risk for developing the condition. The doses given were 500 mg of vitamin C, 400 international units (IU) of vitamin E, 80 mg of zinc, 2 mg of copper, and 15 mg of beta-carotene. Copper was included only because high levels of zinc can cause copper deficiency. Many doctors recommended this combination of macular degeneration vitamins.
Vitamin C is important among macular degeneration vitamins because of its antioxidant activity. Damaging oxidants are thought to pay a role in many age-related diseases, including macular degeneration. Vitamin E is a class of vitamins that also has antioxidant properties. Both of these vitamins are also recognized for promoting cardiovascular system health, the system that supplements the eyes and other organs with nutrients. Zinc is a dietary mineral that has been connected to maintaining good eye health.
Beta-carotene is a part of a class of chemicals called carotenoids that give many fruits and vegetables their colors. Beta-carotene has been studied among macular degeneration vitamins because of its antioxidant properties, but also because the body converts it to vitamin A, which is necessary for eye health. Beta-carotene in supplementary form could have adverse health effects for smokers, but it's readily available in foods including leafy greens, carrots, and pumpkins.
Two other carotenoids that have been studied for a possible role in preventing or slowing macular degeneration are called lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein in particular has been found to be able to improve vision in people with the condition. These substances are usually available as supplements, but greens like spinach and kale contain them in fairly high amounts.
While not vitamins in the strict sense, other nutrients may have a positive effect on preventing or slowing macular degeneration. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil have an anti-inflammatory effect that may extend to the eyes. Antioxidant plant compounds, found in many kinds of fruits and vegetables, could also have a beneficial effect on the condition.