Antioxidant supplements have gained popularity as a healthy dietary addition, mainly because fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants have been associated with numerous health benefits, such as reducing the risk of various diseases.
However, studies have also highlighted potential adverse effects of taking antioxidant supplements on human health. So should you take antioxidant supplements? Let’s break it down.
What Are Antioxidant Supplements?
Antioxidant supplements are dietary supplements that contain vitamins, minerals, and other compounds that are believed to help protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells and contribute to the development of various diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Antioxidants work by neutralizing free radicals, preventing them from causing damage to cells and tissues. Some common antioxidant supplements include vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, selenium, and coenzyme Q10. These supplements are available in various forms, such as pills, capsules, and liquids.
Should You Take Them?
Antioxidants are typically good for the body, but taking them in large amounts or for a long time might be dangerous. Here’s why:
The body’s delicate natural equilibrium between free radicals and antioxidants is one that can be upset by taking excessive doses of antioxidant supplements.
Studies have shown that high doses of antioxidant supplements can actually promote the growth of cancer cells, especially in people who are already at a higher risk for cancer.
Some studies have found that antioxidant supplements can increase the risk of mortality, particularly in people with pre-existing health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Everything In Moderation
It’s worth noting that consuming antioxidants through whole foods is generally considered safe and beneficial. However, taking antioxidant supplements can be problematic, especially when taken in high doses or for prolonged periods.
Therefore, it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider before taking any antioxidant supplements, and to consume a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, which can provide ample amounts of antioxidants and other essential nutrients.