What Are the Antioxidant Benefits?

What Are Antioxidant Food Supplements? The use of antioxidant food supplements is on the rise, particularly with the recent health news stories about how eating certain types of foods can reduce the risk of certain types of cancers, heart disease, and aging. Studies have shown that these antioxidants may help prevent some diseases. Some people take supplements in hopes of reducing their risk, while others take them because they want to feel better. Many people wonder what types of foods and supplements are best.


Methods: There are numerous methods by which antioxidant-rich foods and herbs are taken. The easiest method is taking a multi-vitamin. Five healthy people were randomly assigned to a single, randomized, double-blind study. Participants ate five different antioxidant-rich food supplements (one each, per week, for eight weeks) that were matched for antioxidant content by volume taken at meals after an overnight fasting fast. One supplement was taken daily, one at dinner, one before breakfast, one at lunch, and one before dinner.

Benefits: At the end of the eight-week trial, the researchers measured the participants’ “total absorbed antioxidant burden.” They compared the amount of antioxidants taken during the weeklong trial to the amount they found in the test subjects. They determined that there was no significant difference in absorbed antioxidant load; instead, there was a trend for higher antioxidant intake (a trend that was significant only in women). In addition, there was a nonsignificant trend for increased physical activity, but only in the morning. These results suggest that the benefits are not due to increased physical activity, but rather decreased consumption of foods rich in antioxidants.


Benefits: The researchers then looked at whether the participants benefited more from taking two or more antioxidants at once. They reported that there was no significant difference in the total antioxidant intake when participants took one antioxidant supplement and one at dinner or when they took two at dinner and one before lunch. However, there was a significant difference in the rate of oxidation of carotenoids between groups. That is, people who took more antioxidants had more damaged DNA and a greater risk of developing cancers.

Since antioxidants seem to have many health benefits, it may be that the addition of an antioxidant food supplement is the most effective step towards reaching the desired benefits. If that’s the case, then two or more servings of antioxidant-rich foods maybe even more important than the recommended daily allowance. Taking two antioxidant food supplements that are taken together may also provide benefits.

Antioxidant multi-vitamins are available and may play a role in achieving maximum benefits from antioxidant food choices. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin A is six thousand International Units (UV) per day. Studies indicate that moderate amounts of vitamin A may reduce the risk of cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and cataracts in elderly individuals. Animal studies also indicate that antioxidant vitamin A may help prevent certain types of cancer, such as colon, prostate and breast cancer.


The best antioxidant foods include those rich in carotenoids. These are compounds derived from carrots, cantaloupes, spinach, dark leafy greens, tomatoes and carrots. In studies, these foods have been shown to contain high levels of antioxidants. Antioxidants fight free radicals in the body by donating an electron. Free radicals are chemical molecules that are produced in the body that cause damage to many tissues and cells and can lead to the development of many diseases, the majority of which are chronic.


There is an abundance of antioxidant food supplements on the market. Some companies create their own antioxidant formulas while others rely on vitamins and other nutrients to provide an adequate supply of antioxidants to meet a person’s needs. When choosing an antioxidant food supplement, it is important to choose one that contains ingredients that are high in antioxidants, such as beta carotene. Some antioxidant food supplements also include other types of antioxidants such as flavonoids and other polyphenols.

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