Taking CoQ10 and Other Supplements for Macular Degeneration
A few years ago, I started really diving in deep trying to figure out which supplements I needed to take for optimal eye health. You see, as of right now, there isn’t much more I can do for my failing eyes than provide them with nutrients and live an overall healthy lifestyle. I was diagnosed with myopic macular degeneration about 13 years ago, and there is no current cure or treatment for MMD.
Macular degeneration supplements
If you have been diagnosed with macular degeneration, you know a few certain things about supplements.
The amount of information out there is overwhelming
You realize quickly after diagnosis that there is a lot of information out there about supplements and macular degeneration...often an overwhelming amount of information. It can be difficult to know what to take and where to start in order to figure it out.
It isn't as easy as "just AREDS"
You know that you can and should take some kind of supplement, as it’s usually suggested to take the AREDS formula or at least lutein and zeaxanthin. But, it just isn’t that easy. The AREDS formula isn’t ‘right’ for everyone.
Other supplements you "should" take
You hear a lot about ‘other’ supplements you ‘should’ take, like Omega 3 Fatty Acids, which aid in normal vision development and retinal function. Or calcium, which you can read about in detail here.
What about "magical" supplements like turmeric?
You may hear about other seemingly ‘magical’ supplements that are often just opinions of others or their doctors, like turmeric, for example. These supplements are tempting because...let’s face it - those of us who are losing our vision are desperate not to.
Note: I’m not saying you shouldn’t (or should) take turmeric as it does have nutritional benefits. I’m just urging anyone who decides to take different supplements to do the research beforehand. If it seems too good to be true, and there isn’t a lot of research to support claims, it’s probably too good to be true.
Supplements vary widely and have difficult names to remember and pronounce. Want to take probiotics? Okay...lactobacillus, acidophilus, bifidobacterium, or streptococcus?
Supplements work differently in each of our bodies
It can be confusing to see one supplement have 5 - 25 mg of a nutrient, while another can have 500 mg or even 6 billion CFUs. This is where it’s important to remember that each supplement is unique and works differently in our bodies, needing different mg amounts to ‘work’.
My perfect macular degeneration supplement list
After a lot of personal research, I think I pretty much have MY perfect supplement list figured out...with the understanding that my body’s (and eyes’) needs are constantly changing as I get older. Here’s what I take:
- 25 mg of lutein and 5 mg of zeaxanthin in the Ocuvite ‘Blue Light’ formula (sans 5 the AREDS formula because genetic testing has told me that I shouldn’t take zinc)
- 3,000 mg of Omega 3 fatty acids (which mentioned above aid in healthy retinal function)
- 42 mg of a combination of probiotics for gut health, which aids in overall body health. 5 mg of Lactobacillus acidophilus has one billion CFUs (CFU stands for colony-forming units which means the number of live, active microorganisms found in each caplet). I also take six billion CFUs of Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus. In my non-professional opinion, Acidophilus is the one I find most important.
- A daily multivitamin which includes the basic alphabet of vitamins
- And of course, CoQ10, which is the shining star of this article series. I take 400 mg of CoQ10 daily.
Talk to a doctor before taking any new vitamins or supplements
Disclaimer: These are the supplements that I have found to be right for me. That doesn’t mean that they’re right for everyone. It’s important to know your personal needs well. I also urge everyone to discuss this with your doctor or specialist before taking any new vitamins or supplements. At this point you may be thinking, wow, that's a lot of work. The way I see it is that my eyes and vision are worth it.
Other ways to get eye healthy nutrients
Proper nutrient supplementation requires a little getting to know your body and needs well. It’s important to know that some nutrients are made naturally in our bodies, while some are not. Lutein, zeaxanthin, and Omega 3 fatty acids, for example, are not made naturally in our bodies.
What this means is that if these are nutrients we want in our body systems (knowing they are each important to the health of our eyes), then we need to either supplement them by taking vitamins daily or we need to ingest them within our diets.
Diet is the best way to get nutrients
Something else that’s extremely important to remember when discussing nutrients is that we should only need to supplement the nutrients we don’t get through our diet. The best way to get a nutrient into our bodies is by eating it. However, if we know our personal lifestyles and food choices, we know that oftentimes we can lack in our choices to eat for health.
Foods rich in eye healthy nutrients
I try hard to eat certain foods daily that I know are eye-healthy: colorful carotenoid filled bell peppers, antioxidant-rich blueberries, spinach, and I try to cut back on sugar... the list goes on and on. But, I am a human and by no means eat perfectly. I know for sure that I do not eat enough foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, as I’m not a huge fan of seafood. So, I choose to supplement it daily.
Why I take CoQ10
On my journey to figuring out which supplements I personally wanted to take (or not...zinc, for example), I stumbled across a supplement called CoQ10, Coenzyme Q or ubiquinone. While researching, I found it ‘advertised’ as a supplement that is taken for blood circulation.
I want to make it clear that my retina specialist has never told me to take CoQ10. Nor have I heard it come up on our site before now. I simply researched it and started taking it on my own after being sure my specialist didn’t see any negatives of taking it ‘just in case’ (study statistics to come in the second part of this article series).
Retinal blood flow decreases with AMD
This all got me thinking about how choroidal and retinal blood flow is decreased in patients with AMD.1 I researched CoQ10 and found no reason that it would be harmful to me personally, discussed it with my specialist, and started taking it on the chance that it would specifically help blood flow to my precious retinas...in order to keep them as healthy as possible.
CoQ10 supplements for macular degeneration
Fast forward a few years later to now, and I decided I wanted to look further into this. After digging deeper, I found a study conducted by IOVS, Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science titled: Coenzyme Q10 in the Human Retina.2 I have to be honest, I got giddy reading this study because I felt really confident in my rationalization of taking CoQ10 supplements over the years.
In the next installment of this two-part article series, I will discuss the results of this study, and how CoQ10 relates to Macular Degeneration and the health of our failing eyes.
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