Women who consume more omega 3 fatty acids have significantly less macular degeneration, the most common cause of age related vision loss, according to a new study published in the medical journal Archives of Opthalmology.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a chronic and progressive eye disease that attacks the area of the eye called the macula, which provides central vision. Clear central vision is essential for one's ability to read, drive and identify objects. Affecting 90 million Americans over the age of 40, macular degeneration is the most common cause of age-related vision loss..
For this study, researchers from Harvard University examined the diets of over 38,000 women who were initially free of eye disease. After a 10 year follow-up they found that the women whose diet consisted of 1 or more servings of fish per week had a 42 percent decrease risk for AMD compared to those who ate less than 1 serving per month. Researchers also found that women who consumed the highest amounts of DHA, a form of Omega 3, had 38 percent less risk of AMD than those who consumed the least. Furthermore, researchers identified the the overall risk was lowest among women who consumed mostly dark fish meat sources such as salmon, canned tuna, mackerel, bluefish, sardines and swordfish.
The Omega 3 and AMD ConnectionOmega 3 is a fatty acid which is required by our bodies to function. It can be found in several food sources including oils, nuts, and flax seeds. However, it is most abundant in fatty dark-meat fish. DHA is a form of Omega 3 found in fish sources which has been identified as a essential for brain and eye health.Although the study isn't able to tell us exactly how Omega 3 consumption prevents against AMD, the researchers believe that it could be due to the anti-inflammatory effects of this fatty-acid. Dr. William Christian, senior researcher on the study and associate professor of medicine at Harvard, wrote in the study's report, “Fatty acids are known to exert anti-inflammatory, anti-asthersclerotic, and anti-thrombotic effects on the vasculature and may help to maintain or improve [blood flow] in the eye.” He then went on to conclude that Omega 3 could protect against the formation of AMD by reducing the inflammatory process which is believed to cause the disease.Omega 3 RecommendationsThere have been many other health benefits identified with increased Omega 3 consumption. It is known to protect against heart disease, lower cholesterol, improve brain function, increase memory, reduces risks for some cancers, and improve diabetes. The American Heart Association recommends that Americans consume fish at least 2 times per week in order to get a sufficient amount of Omega 3. This fatty acid is also available in supplement form for those who are unable to get enough through food sources in their diet.