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Anti-oxidant supplements: Good or Bad?

Some of you must have read about a report by Copenhagen University Hospital investigators in Cochrane Review suggesting that antioxidant supplements containing beta-carotene, selenium, vitamins A, C, and E do prevent cancer or heart disease but may even increase the risk slightly.

David Katz, MD, however, questioned the validity of the said report. According to him, there are 3 possible explanations why antioxidant supplements may not give the desired effect or even cause harm. First, we may have used the wrong dosage. Anything that is taken more than what is required can be harmful healthwise. Second, antioxidants in foods work together with many other nutrients. It is possible that some antioxidant supplements may have the wrong combinations or should be combined with other supplements to make it work. And lastly, the participants in the said research were already ill. It is possible that antioxidants have different effects on sick or healthy users.

As a doctor, his advice was to be careful in selecting or using antioxidant supplements. He also suggests consulting your doctor to see if the supplement is suitable for you. And most importantly, he also wants to remind everyone that antioxidant supplements are not substitute for a healthy diet and lifestyle. Besides, the best source of vitamins and antioxidants are still fresh fruit, vegetables, and nuts.


Bjelakovic et al JAMA. 2007 Feb 28;297(8):842-57

David Katz, MD, PREVENTION, Yahoo

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