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Multivitamin supplement use may decrease cataract risk

March 10, 2014

A long-term daily use of multivitamin as well as vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene supplements may significantly lower the risk of developing cataract in men.

The randomized controlled trial documented cases of cataract among 14,641 male physicians age 50 and older who took a common daily multivitamin, as well as vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene supplements, or a placebo for 14 years (1). The study results showed that the risk of developing cataract was reduced by 9% in the group who supplemented compared to the placebo group. This risk was even lower, at 13%, for nuclear cataract, the most common variety of cataract associated with the aging process.

The researchers commented that even a modest 10% reduction in cataract risk would nonetheless have a large public health impact, given that an estimated 10 million adults in the United States have impaired vision due to cataract. Regarding another common eye disease, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the use of antioxidant vitamin and mineral supplements, including high daily doses of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, zinc and copper only for patients who have intermediate or advanced AMD (2). More recent results suggest lutein and zeaxanthin may be an appropriate substitution for beta-carotene in the formulation (3).

References

  1. Christen W. G. et al. Effects of Multivitamin Supplement on Cataract and Age-Related Macular Degeneration in a Randomized Trial of Male Physicians. Ophthalmology. 2014; 121(2):525-534.
  2. Age-Related Eye Disease Study Research Group. A randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial of high-dose supplementation with vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and zinc for age-related macular degeneration and vision loss: AREDS report no. 8. Arch Ophthalmol. 2001; 119(10):1417-1436.
  3. Chew E. Y. et al. Secondary Analyses of the Effects of Lutein/Zeaxanthin on Age-Related Macular Degeneration Progression: AREDS2 Report No. 3. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2014; 132(2):142-149.