Taking vitamin C may reduce your risk of cataracts

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Women who take vitamin C supplements for at least 10 years appear to have fewer cataracts than those who don't. Investigators at Tufts University's USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging made the finding when they looked at the vitamin C intake of some 250 women in their 50s, 60s, and 70s and matched it to whether or not they had cataracts-cloudy spots in the eye lens that cause progressive loss of vision, particularly in older people.

Vitamin C, one of the "antioxidant" vitamins, is thought to delay the formation of cataracts by preventing damage to proteins in the lens of the eye. Lens tissue contains vitamin C at a much higher concentration than other tissues in the body. And animal research has already shown that the lens can be protected from injury with extra C.

What's still uncertain is exactly how much vitamin C is needed for the apparent protective effect. Although many of the supplement takers reported consuming 400 milligrams or more per day, study leader Paul Jacques, DSc, notes that previous research shows lens tissues become saturated with vitamin C at just 150 to 250 milligrams per day--the amount available in a diet that contains plenty of fruits and vegetables, particularly strawberries, peppers, citrus fruits, and kiwi.

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