Study concludes omega-3, lutein/zeaxanthin supplement use could help seniors maintain independence, save billions
Readers of Life Extension Update may recall the September 27 2004 issue which reported the conclusion of the Lewin Group that consumption of certain dietary supplements by Americans could save the U.S. billions of dollars. In a new Lewin Group report dated November 2, 2005, it was revealed that the regular intake of omega-3 fatty acids and the combination of lutein with zeaxanthin could help older individuals maintain their independence and save an estimated 5.6 billion dollars over a five year period.
The Lewin Group was commissioned by the Dietary Supplement Education Alliance (DSEA) to review research publications for validity, impact and applicability of the findings for omega-3 fatty acids and lutein and zeaxanthin as associated with producing health care savings and maintaining independence for men and women over the age of 65. Several hundred studies dating back nearly thirty years concerning omega-3 fatty acid use among older adults were reviewed, along with studies dating back fifteen years for lutein and zeaxanthin.
The impact of taking 1800 milligrams omega-3 fatty acids per day on coronary heart disease (CHD) prevention was estimated by the Lewin Group to have the potential of avoiding 384,303 hospitalizations and saving 3.1 billion dollars in hospital and physician service fees over five years. For lutein with zeaxanthin, taking 6 to 10 milligrams per day could prevent the loss of independence resulting from visual impairment due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) of 98,219 individuals, while saving 2.5 billion dollars.
The authors observed, “As the population lives longer, reducing the level of disability caused by age-related diseases is becoming ever more important . . . Potential savings could be achieved through a reduction in hospitalizations and physician services for CHD, and a reduction in the transition to greater dependency from loss of central vision due to advanced AMD.”
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a condition characterized by the deterioration of the macula. Macular is derived from the Latin word, macula, meaning spot. The macula is the central and most vital area of the retina, providing the clearest, most distinct vision needed, for example, in seeing fine detail, reading, driving, and recognizing facial features. There are two forms of macular degeneration: atrophic (dry) and neovascular (wet). Both forms of the disease may affect both eyes simultaneously. Vision can become severely impaired, with central vision rather than peripheral vision affected.
As lutein and zeaxanthin are the essential pigments within the macula, it is critical to replenish them as they become depleted through the aging process. Consumption of foods rich in these substances is especially important since they have a direct affect on macular pigment density. When the pigment in the macula is denser, retinal tearing or degeneration is less likely. Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in yellow or orange vegetables, in dark leafy greens, and in fruits with yellow or orange hues. Egg yolk is a good source of lutein. Dietary supplements of lutein and zeaxanthin are recommended.
Decreased levels of natural antioxidants in the healthy eye are associated with AMD. Some of these essential natural antioxidants are glutathione, vitamin C, and the carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. Dietary supplementation with these antioxidants protect against the progression of AMD. Other recommended antioxidants to protect the macula and retina include vitamin A, vitamin E, L-carnosine, taurine, lipoic acid, selenium, zinc (with copper), grape seed extract, and coenzyme Q10.
To the delight of the volunteers at the Methuselah Foundation, an anonymous donor has given $1 million to the Methuselah Mouse Prize, or Mprize for Rejuvenation, the scientific research prize aimed at bringing an end to the degenerations and indignities of aging. Volunteers for the Mprize couldn't believe it when they saw the size of the latest check: topping previous and exceedingly generous five- and six-figure donations, this was a check for $1 million out of the blue!
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Over the past several years, a growing band of enthusiasts - regular folk from all corners of the world have donated to the Mprize, a scientific research prize modeled on the extraordinarily successful prizes such as the Longitude Prize and the X Prize. The Mprize, or Methuselah Mouse Prize, rewards scientists who increase the maximum healthy lifespan by rejuvenating mice that are already in late middle age.
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