Can antioxidants be too much of a good thing?

Nutrition

By pH health care professionals

Antioxidants seem to be a “cure-all” for just about anything and everything. We hear about antioxidant-rich superfoods in the news, and advertisements are dripping with promises for better health. They’re known for their ability to fight free radicals, and this is good news. Free radicals make you age faster and deteriorate your health. But does that mean you should load up on anything labeled “antioxidant”? Not necessarily. Here’s why.

A recent study pointed out that not all antioxidants are equal, and some may be even harmful in higher doses. For example, high vitamin A levels in smokers with lung cancer had worse outcomes than with those regular vitamin A levels. Also, high levels of vitamin E has been associated with increased cancer rates in rats. So the following should be always kept in mind: “The dose determines the poison.” The point being that too much of a good thing may cause you trouble.

How can you know when you need more antioxidants or if you have enough?

Eliminate the guesswork. You can check for many specific antioxidant levels with a simple blood test. You can also test for indicators that can monitor your contact with free radicals (oxidative stress). Oxidative stress is thought to be involved in the development of cancerParkinson's diseaseAlzheimer's diseaseatherosclerosisheart failuremyocardial infarctionsickle cell diseaseautisminfections and chronic fatigue syndrome.

A blood test can give you a clear idea which specific antioxidants you need (such as vitamins A, C and E, lipoic acidglutathione, coenzyme Q-10, nitroxides and nitric oxide, polyphenols, flavonoids, selenium and cysteine) as well as how free radicals affect your body.

What’s the danger of free radicals?

Free radicals are substances that can interfere, damage or kill a number of cells. They are also responsible for genetic damage, meaning DNA can be altered and give rise to mutations, creating potential for various cancers.

Your body already fights free radicals like water dousing fire, but you also extract free radical-fighting antioxidants from food.

If you do need to consume more, what are some good sources of antioxidants?

In general, you can get your antioxidants from brightly colored fruits & vegetables, green tea and turmeric. But if you are trying to increase a specific antioxidant source, try:

  •          Vitamin A:  Cod liver oil, fortified cereals and milk, eggs, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, cantaloupe, mango, spinach, broccoli, kale and butternut squash.
  •          Vitamin C: Kiwi, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, tomato, sweet red pepper, broccoli and potato. 
  •          Vitamin E:  Oils (olive, soy, corn, canola, safflower, sunflower), eggs, nuts, seeds, spinach, carrots, avocado, dark leafy greens and wheat germ.    
  •          Gluthathione:  Usually synthesized by your own body but you can supply the precursor, which include meats, poultry, fish, soy, corn, nuts, seeds, wheat germ, milk and cheese.
  •          Lipoic acid: Organ meats, spinach and broccoli.
  •          Coenzyme Q-10: Meat, poultry, fish, soybean, canola oil, nuts and whole grains.

You can also use a high-quality supplement to obtain higher doses of an antioxidant. But it’s best to speak with a qualified health care professional when doing so.

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.

Comments (1)

Guest

Good to know.  Great info

Newsletter