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Slowing AREDS



DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am an 82-year-old woman. My body cannot tolerate antibiotics, vitamins or painkillers. I am told I have macular degeneration and was advised to take Ocuvite once a day. My sister suggested I write to you to see if you have an idea of how to take Ocuvite in some other manner or some other way to get the ingredients in it. Help. — L.M.

ANSWER: In 2001, the results of the first AREDS report (Age-Related Eye Disease Study) was published. It showed that the combination of beta carotene (a form of vitamin A), vitamin E, vitamin C, zinc and copper could slow the progression of moderate macular degeneration to severe macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is a wasting away of the macula — a small, round area of the retina necessary for clear central vision, the kind needed to read, sew and drive. Ocuvite is one capsule that incorporates all these nutrients.

Currently a new study, AREDS 2, is being conducted. The vitamin-mineral combination has been altered a bit and new ingredients have been added: lutein, zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids. Some Ocuvite pills also contain these materials.

Since you’re unable to tolerate vitamins, you’ll need to get these nutrients from foods. You might not be able to reach the high levels found in pills, but you’d be getting all the ingredients in those pills.

Beta carotene is found in colored vegetables like carrots and peppers, in darkgreen vegetables and in colored fruits. Vitamin E is widely available in many foods: meats, nuts, cereal grains, wheat-germ oil and sunflower oil. You find vitamin C in citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes and broccoli. Zinc is in meats, shellfish, nuts and legumes, like peas. Copper is in shellfish, nuts and organ meats.

The new version of AREDS, not yet published, contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which you can obtain in kale, spinach, collard greens, corn, green beans, carrots, squash and tomatoes. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish like salmon and tuna.

The booklet on macular degeneration explains this common malady and its treatment. To obtain a copy, write: Dr. Donohue — No. 701, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.


DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My heart misses a beat every now and then. The doctor tells me this isn’t dangerous. He has said nothing about food or drink as being a cause of this. I drink two cups of coffee a day. I can’t tell any difference on the days I drink it or on the days I don’t. What’s the thinking on this? — P.M.

ANSWER: Moderate amounts of caffeine have little effect on the heart. Two to four cups of coffee a day shouldn’t affect your heartbeat. However, if a person is quite sensitive to caffeine, then that person should abstain from coffee.

There appears not to be any relationship between coffee drinking and artery hardening, artery obstruction or heart pumping. Heart attacks and strokes are no more frequent in coffee drinkers than in those who never touch it.

Readers may write Dr. Donohue or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.

©2012 North America Synd.

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