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B vitamins lower homocysteine, a blood substance once thought to raise heart disease risk, but the nutrients weren't helpful for that in the larger study on cardiovascular disease.
The eye's small blood vessels may respond better to B vitamins' effect on homocysteine than the body's large vessels, Christen said.
It's too soon to recommend B vitamins to people who want to prevent age-related vision loss, he said. But people who already have the disease should talk to their doctors about over-the-counter eye-protecting supplements, including vitamins C and E and zinc, which prior studies have shown slow the disease.
Christen and others recommended food sources of B vitamins and folic acid such as meat, poultry, fortified cereals, beans, nuts, leafy vegetables, spinach and peas.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Vitamins and placebos were provided by chemical maker BASF Corp., which did not participate in the study otherwise. Some of the researchers reported past funding from pharmaceutical and nutritional supplement makers.
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