Why macular degeneration doesn’t respond to these two nutrients

June 11, 2012
Volume 3    |   Issue 44

Whenever a study comes out saying a particular vitamin doesn’t work for some condition, I have to smile. Why would I smile when a supplement doesn’t work? Well, I’m not smiling because the supplement doesn’t work. I’m smiling because conventional medicine just doesn’t get it. Sometimes they conduct the most ridiculous studies. Take the latest study on vitamins C and E for example.

This study says the two vitamins don’t reduce the risk for age-related macular degeneration. Honestly, when you read how the researchers conducted this study, the results are not surprising. They evaluated data on 14,236 healthy male physicians. All of the doctors were 50 years-old or younger. And none of them had age-related macular degeneration at the start of the study.

Then the researchers randomly gave each participant 400 IU of vitamin E or placebo every other day and 500 mg of vitamin C or placebo daily. They did this for eight years. During that time, each participant reported any diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration.

After eight years, 193 doctors developed age-related macular degeneration. The researchers said that the number of cases was about equal between those taking the supplements and those who took the placebo. In other words, taking vitamin C and E didn’t prevent the eye disease.

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So why aren’t these results surprising? First, it’s almost as if the researchers think that alternative medicine believes these vitamins will cure or prevent anything. Yes, vitamins C and E are vital nutrients that can protect you from a myriad of illnesses and health challenges. But most doctors will tell you that macular degeneration is a particularly difficult condition to prevent and treat. I’ve never talked to one alternative doctor who would think that taking only 400 IU of vitamin E and 500 mg of vitamin C would be enough to prevent the disease.

Second, most research on vitamin E uses synthetic vitamin E, which is not as effective as natural vitamin E. Still, I wouldn’t expect 400 IU of natural vitamin E to stop macular degeneration either. It might help, but I sure wouldn’t depend on it alone — or even with 500 IU of vitamin C. It takes a lot more than this to stop the disease.

In fact, I think these researchers saw how ridiculous their own study was on these two vitamins. They decided to go a little further and test melatonin and ginkgo as well. They found that melatonin’s antioxidant effect may play a role in protecting the retina to delay macular degeneration. They also said ginkgo may improve eye blood flow, but couldn’t confirm that it significantly affects macular degeneration. Fortunately, other studies have shown that ginkgo helps. One six-month double-blind, placebo-controlled study, for instance, showed that 160 mg daily of ginkgo improved visual acuity in those with macular degeneration.

Obviously, using the right nutrients in the right doses can help prevent and treat macular degeneration. Just don’t listen to this ridiculous study to find out how much. And don’t take only one nutrient and expect miracles. In fact, I wouldn’t take just ginkgo to prevent macular degeneration. I take all of the nutrients in Advanced Vision Formula to keep my eyes healthy. Your eyes are extremely important; don’t trust them to just one or two nutrients.

Your insider for better health,

Steve Kroening

Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.


Christen WG, Glynn RJ, Sesso HD, et al. Vitamins E and C and Medical Record-Confirmed Age-Related Macular Degeneration in a Randomized Trial of Male Physicians. Ophthalmology. 2012 Apr 13.

Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. www.naturalstandard.com.

Lebuisson DA, Leroy L, Rigal G. Treatment of senile macular degeneration with Ginkgo biloba extract. A preliminary double-blind, drug versus placebo study [translated from French]. Presse Med. 1986;15:1556-1558.

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