Could antioxidants be bad?

After all these years of hearing the wonderful benefits of antioxidants from anti-aging boosters to cancer fighting warriors, could we have gotten it wrong? What if too much of a good thing is actually bad?

New research is questioning just that: if we are over doing it with antioxidants, and whether they are blocking the natural defenses of free radicals.

Yep, you heard it- could free radicles actually be good for us?


So what is a free radical?

When we eat food it is broken down and energy (ATP) is manufactured within the mitochondria of a cell. But in the conversion of food to energy, oxygen is required, and this is referred to as an‘ oxidation process’ where free radicals are produced.


And what do we know about antioxidants?

There are 3 main categories of antioxidants- enzymic antioxidants, which are those our own body produces. Vitamin derived antioxidants, which are those found in Vitamin C, E, and A, and Phytochemical type antioxidants that are produced by plants in order to protect themselves from damage or harm from UV sunrays, insects, fungi or bacteria, such as the tannins in tea and resveratrol in red grape skins.


But according to Nobel Prize winning geneticist James Watson, it is these same #antioxidants that are actually causing some cancers, and shortening the life span of cancer sufferers. That in cancer, it is free radicals or oxidation that is desired and which are responsible for most cancer cells being destroyed.


While in the well-respected science Journal of Physiology, it was found that with the addition of the antioxidant, resveratrol in supplemental form to ‘aged men’; it physically blocked the positive health impacts that exercise had on their heart, blood pressure, cholesterol and oxygen uptake.


So, what’s the conclusion? Are antioxidants good or bad? Are free radicals in fact the newest discovery in the natural arsenal for fighting cancer?

The evidence is still pointing towards the benefits of eating a diet rich in antioxidant foods found naturally in fruits, vegetables, grains, herbs and spices. That perhaps we are over-doing it on the supplement versions of antioxidants, and this is where issues are arising.

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Published by honnutrition

Qualified Nutritionist, Health Writer, Nutritional Journalist. Nerdy with a touch of class.

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