Arch Ophthalmol, Jan 2008; 126: 102 - 109
This issue of the journal Archives of Ophthalmology published the discovery of Harvard researchers that women whose diets are high in vitamin E, lutein, and zeaxanthin, have less risk of developing cataracts. Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants found in yellow or dark, leafy vegetables. Increasing intake of lutein and zeaxanthin has also been linked with a lower risk of age-related macular degeneration.
For the current study, researchers utilized data from 35,551 participants in the Women's Health Study. Dietary questionnaires completed upon enrollment in 1993 were analyzed for levels of antioxidants including alpha and beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin, beta cryptoxanthin, vitamin C and vitamin E in food and multivitamin supplements. The women, who were 45 years of age or older, were followed for an average of 10 years.
Over the course of follow up, 2,031 women developed cataracts. Women whose lutein and zeaxanthin intake was in the top one-fifth of participants experienced an 18% lower risk of developing cataracts than women whose intake was in the bottom fifth. When vitamin E was examined, those whose intake was in the top fifth had a 14% reduction in risk compared with women whose intake was lowest.
Lutein, zeaxanthin and vitamin E are believed to help protect against cataracts by reducing the formation of damaging free radicals. Additionally, lutein and zeaxanthin, which exist in the eye's lens, help filter blue light that can have an adverse effect over time.
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