Editor’s note: Pending an FDA decision, 23andMe no longer offers new customers access to health reports referred to in this post. Customers who purchased prior to November 22, 2013 will still be able to see their health reports, but those who purchased after that time will not. Those customers will have access to ancestry information as well as access to their uninterpreted raw data.
Genetics plays a big role in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), one of the leading causes of vision loss among older Americans. Luckily, there are ways to lower the risk through diet.
Recently the National Institutes of Health slightly changed its recommendations regarding a combination of vitamins and minerals recommended to protect against AMD. About two million Americans have advanced AMD and another eight million are at risk, according to the NIH.
Millions of Americans are already taking high daily doses of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and the minerals zinc and copper. Earlier studies showed that that formula — known as the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) formulation — could significantly cut the risk for AMD.
Now the NIH is recommending replacing the beta-carotene with the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, both found in leafy greens such as kale, spinach and broccoli. This is based on a new study that found that making the change improved the protective power of the formula.
Looking at participants in the study, researchers found that the revised formula reduced the risk of AMD by about 18 percent compared to the previous formula. For those individuals who prior to the study didn’t get a lot of lutein and zeaxanthin in the diet, the change had an even greater beneficial effect, cutting the risk of AMD by as much as 25 percent.