Antioxidant Supplements

Antioxidants are molecules that are capable of inhibiting the oxidization of other molecules. Oxidization reactions can cause free radical damage, which can cause chain reactions within the cells. When there is a chain reaction within a cell, it can cause the cell to damage or die. Antioxidants prevent these chain reactions from happening by removing free radicals. Antioxidants work by being oxidized themselves.

Oxidation reactions are crucial for life, but all systems have a complex system of antioxidants. Constant low levels of antioxidants are actually thought to be harmful, as they cause oxidative stress which could damage or kill cells.

Antioxidants are now widely used as an ingredient in dietary supplements and are continually being investigated for the prevention of various diseases, such as certain cancers, coronary heart disease and altitude sickness. Initial studies into the use of antioxidants suggested that they were beneficial – however, some clinical trials have claimed that antioxidants do not actually have any benefit and that over-consumption of them could be harmful. All of these trials investigated the effects of antioxidant supplements administered at a higher dosage than would be found in a normal diet and some of the studies showed that some antioxidants actually increased mortality rates.

Use of Antioxidant Supplements to Treat Disease

Antioxidants have been found to be successful in treating some neurological disorders. This is because the brain is particularly sensitive to oxidative injury, due to its high metabolic rate. Antioxidants are therefore used to treat various forms of brain injury, such as reperfusion injury, traumatic brain injury and injury resulting from strokes. The antioxidants used in these circumstances appear to prevent oxidative stress within the neurons, preventing further neurological damage. As antioxidants have been seen to be successful in these circumstances, they are currently being investigated to see if they can help treat disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and ALS. It’s also thought that they could be useful in treating noise-induced hearing loss.

Use of Antioxidant Supplements to Prevent Disease

It is known that people who eat plenty of fruit and vegetables are less likely to develop a number of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and some neurological disorders. It’s thought that some types of vegetables and some specific types of fruit can prevent certain types of cancer from forming. Because fruit and vegetables are both good sources of antioxidants, it is commonly thought that antioxidants are what prevent certain types of diseases. Clinical trials were carried out to test this idea and it appears to be untrue, as antioxidant supplements had no clear effect on the risk level of all chronic diseases.

Another clinical trial stated that low-level antioxidants lowered total cancer incidence and all-cause mortality in men, but not women. As the data is relatively inconclusive, with some studies showing opposite results of other studies, it can be presumed that antioxidants can be helpful in some cases but not in others.

Should I Take Antioxidant Supplements?

If your diet is particularly lacking in one area due to allergy or illness, you may want to consider taking antioxidant supplements. However, in most cases, you can take in all the antioxidants you need through your diet. You don’t need to eat more foods that contain more antioxidants, such as blueberries, for example – instead, just eat a varied diet that contains lots of colors to ensure you get plenty of vitamins and nutrients. Another way to take in these sorts of vitamins is by using an all in one vitamin supplement. However, you should not take these sorts of supplements if you already have a healthy diet that contains plenty of fruit, vegetables, protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats. Speak to your doctor for more information.