Vitamin C from food tied to lower cataract risk

Jul 14, 2011, 11:41 a.m.

What's more, clinical trials that have tested high doses of vitamin C and other antioxidants for preventing cataracts have failed to show a benefit.

One reason, Fletcher noted, may be that well-nourished people in high-income countries already have fairly high vitamin C levels, and an extra dose from a pill has little benefit to offer. Vitamin C is water-soluble, and excess amounts are quickly excreted from the body.

Another possibility, according to Fletcher, is that taking a few nutrients in pill form simply does not mimic the effects of a good diet.

Foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit, green and red peppers, kiwifruit, strawberries, broccoli and tomatoes. In the U.S., the official recommendation is for men to get 90 milligrams of vitamin C per day, while women should get 75 milligrams.

In this study, most older Indian adults were getting well below that.

If extra vitamin C was shown to lower cataract risk in India, the benefits could be substantial.

"India has the highest burden of blindness in the world," Fletcher said, "and the main cause is cataract."

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/pdR2l1 Ophthalmology, online June 27, 2011.

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