Life

Experts Question Nutritional Supplements for Eyes & 'Liquid Candy' for Seniors

Benefits of Eye Health Supplements Questioned by Researchers

The majority of top-selling nutritional supplements promoted for eye health do not contain the proper ingredients or dosages considered effective in slowing some eye diseases, particularly age-related macular degeneration, according to new research.

A few years ago, a major clinical trial showed that certain nutritional supplements could slow macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of severe vision impairment and blindness in older Americans.

Recently, researchers examined the top-selling brands of ocular nutritional supplements in the United States according to dollar sales. Most of the brands lacked the sufficient ingredient doses established by the major clinical study years ago to combat aged-related macular degeneration.

The results underscore “the importance of ophthalmologists educating their patients on the evidence-based role of nutritional supplements in the management of eye health,” researchers found.

Some of the brands studied contained the right ingredients, but not the right doses established by the previous clinical study, known as AREDS (Age-Related Eye Disease Study), sponsored by the federal government’s National Eye Institute. Some brands added selenium, B vitamins, grapeseed extract or other ingredients that haven’t been established in helping slow macular degeneration, and could reduce the effectiveness of the ingredients that do work.

Of the 11 supplements that were top sellers, only four duplicated the AREDS formula, researchers found.

Here’s a fact sheet on the original clinical study, AREDS, from the federal government’s National Eye Institute.

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    Liquid Candy Alert for Seniors?

    Flavored nutritional drinks for senior citizens have come under heavy fire from top experts affiliated with the American Geriatrics Society. “Liquid candy bars with vitamins,” is the term used by Paul Mulhausen , M.D., when he spoke at the Society’s recent December national meeting  in Orlando, according to the New York Times.

    In television commercials and ads, sugary or flavored nutritional drinks have been promoted as supplements to boost the appetite, weight and moods of senior citizens. But experts from the American Geriatrics Society have refuted those claims. The Society’s dim view of sweet supplemental drinks is also outlined in a series of recommendations called Ten Things Physicians and Patients Should Question, published online at Choosing Wisely, a medical resource guide affiliated with Consumer Reports,  in early 2014:

    “Avoid using prescription appetite stimulants or high-calorie supplements for treatment of anorexia or cachexia in older adults; instead, optimize social supports, provide feeding assistance and clarify patient goals and expectations,” the Society recommends.

    There is no evidence that sweetened appetite supplements improve seniors’ quality of life or health, the Society said. What’s more, in some cases, certain supplements could create a major health risk, researchers said. The Society made an exception for some seniors in hospitalized settings.

    This blog has closely tracked the debate about energy drink, supplements and added sugar:

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  • –Sharon Harvey Rosenberg

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