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Dr Russ Blog - Antioxidant Supplements - What to Do?
Antioxidant Supplements - What to Do?
Created on 2/19/2013

Our bodies generate antioxidants to help prevent damage from oxidation in the body. Oxidation naturally occurs through a variety of processes such as energy production within cells and immune system activity against invading organisms.

Oxidative damage can also occur through not so natural means - smoking is a biggie, as is exposure to other toxins such as ozone and even fried foods.

This is part of the reason why many experts have long recommended that we supplement with antioxidants - the sheer number of potentially harmful oxidative exposures we exerience might overwhelm our body's natural antioxidant capacity.

But it's always important to remember that what is natural is not the same as what is safe.

Antioxidants are nutrient components of many foods, especially vegetables and fruits, which are very healthy for us.

When single antioxidants are taken from these foods, concentrated in supplement form, and then taken on a regular basis that should be just as good, if not better for us, right?

Well, more is not always better.

The antioxidants within foods exist in an environment that is balanced with many other nutrients and in concentations low enough to offer benefit without harm.

On the other hand, highly concentrated antioxidant supplements may, in certain circumstances, do us harm.

Data in recent years have brought these concerns to light. First, there certainly are a number of studies suggesting benefits from the use of antioxidant supplements, but they are usually in specific clinical situations - not so much for the prevention of disease in otherwise healthy people.  

There is also a significant amount of research suggesting that certain antioxidants, again in select clincial circumstances, may do us more harm than good.

It's enough to drive us all crazy.

What to do?

The research is very clear on at least one point - eating your vegetables and fruits on a regular basis is good for you and can help prevent chronic illness as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Part of the reason is the antioxidants you gain from eating these foods - and the balanced concetration of these antioxidants found in produce.

A multivitamin might be okay for you, maybe even another antioxidant supplement given your particular health circumstances, but the single best way to a obtain more antioxidants is through eating foods high in them.

Not even supplement manufacturers will disagree with that.

Supplement your healthy diet prudently, and safely - speak with your doctor or pharmacist first. You shouldn't need a whole bunch of pills if your diet is a healthy one (and if it's not healthy a bunch of pills will not take the place of vegetables and fruits!).

Be well.
Dr. Russ
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **

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