Antioxidants And Your Health

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With media information telling us that antioxidant vitamins do not necessarily make us healthier it is important to get the facts straight about this important health issue. As someone who closely follows the research in this field I would like to point out some of the key studies in recent years that support the daily use of antioxidant supplements to your wellness game plan. For starters, vitamin E supplementation was shown to reduce prostate cancer incidence by 41% (Heinonen OP, 1998) compared to those taking the placebo. Selenium supplementation was shown to reduce prostate cancer
incidence by 63 % (Clark LC, 1998) and colon cancer by 58% (Clark LC 1996) compared to the placebo group.  The combination of vitamin E, selenium and beta-carotene was shown to significantly reduce total cancer mortality, and especially esophageal and stomach cancer in the Linxian Study (Blot WJ, et al. 1993). 

Studies have shown that supplementation with beta-carotene can reverse certain precancerous conditions, such as leukoplakia (a precancerous mouth condition) and cervical dysplasia (precancerous changes on the cervix of the uterus) (Garewal HS, 1995; deVet HC, 1991).  Vitamin C supplementation was shown to reverse a precancerous stomach condition known as atrophic gastritis (Rembiasz K, 2007).  The study by K Lockwood and fellow researcher in Molecular Aspects of Medicine (1994 and 1996) showed that breast cancer survivors had better outcomes by taking high dosages of certain antioxidants supplements as a follow-up to surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, compared to women who don’t use this strategy.  As well, the Alzheimer’s Co-operative study showed that Alzheimer’s patients administered 2000 IU of vitamin E each day, showed a slowing of their disease (Grundman M, 2000).  The same was shown for Parkinson’s disease patients with respect to supplementation with coenzyme Q10 and/or vitamin E (Schultz C. 2007).  Studies by KN Prasad and others have shown that the immune system is much stronger and more efficient when antioxidant supplements are taken daily. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) showed that an antioxidant supplement cocktail slowed the progression of macular degeneration – the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 55.

Experimental studies and some human research suggest that antioxidant supplements help protect the skin from damaging ultra-violet light that can lead to skin aging and skin cancer (Firkle T, 2000), and may also make the cholesterol in bloodstream less likely to clog up our arteries (Steinberg D, 1989)

Antioxidant supplements of vitamin C and vitamin E have also shown ability to block the formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines within our intestinal tract and to decrease the concentrations cancer-causing agents in our colon and rectum (Block G, 1991).

What is bewildering to me is why the media has neglected to present the above cited information, but has rather focused on single, biased research paper (JAMA, 2007 Bjelakovi G), which suggested that antioxidant supplements are of no value, especially when their research findings were heavily criticized by health authorities from John Hopkins School Of Medicine and National Cancer Institute (JAMA July 25, 2007).

In the past year alone studies have shown antioxidant supplementation improves outcomes in diabetics, strengthened immune function in elderly patients, decreased risk of heart disease, reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease, improved outcomes in Alzheimer’s disease patients, and improved outcomes in advanced prostate cancer. All of these studies have shown significant benefits and have not shown that antioxidants increased cancer risk to any degree.

In my view, the body of evidence continues to suggest that you should get additional antioxidant support each day from and a high potency multiple vitamin and mineral containing the following dosages:

Vitamin C – 1,000 mg

Vitamin E Succinate – 400 IU

Selenium – 100-200 mcg

Vitamin A – 2500 IU

Beta-carotene – 10,000-20,000 IU

Lutein – 6 mg

Lycopene – 6 mg

Bioflavonoids – 50 mg 

Higher doses may be required for nutritional management of certain health conditions.

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