Antioxidants protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. Many experts believe this damage is a factor in the development of blood vessel disease (atherosclerosis), cancer, and other conditions.
You are exposed to free radicals:
Antioxidants include some vitamins (such as vitamins C and E), some minerals (such as selenium), and flavonoids, which are found in plants. The best sources of antioxidants are fruits and vegetables. You can find flavonoids in fruits, red wine, and teas. You can also buy antioxidant supplements. It is best to obtain antioxidants from a healthy diet.
Antioxidants may play a role in managing or preventing some medical conditions, such as some cancers, macular degeneration, Alzheimer's disease, and some arthritis-related conditions.
Until more studies are done, it is best to get your antioxidants from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables rather than from natural health products. Taking natural health products in high doses can be harmful. No single antioxidant alone can protect the body. Most people should eat 7 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
The Natural and Non-Prescription Health Products Directorate (NNHPD), within the Health Products and Food Branch of Health Canada, regulates natural health products in Canada. Natural health products, including antioxidant supplements, must be reviewed and approved by the NNHPD before they can be sold in Canada.
Always tell your doctor if you are using a natural health product or if you are thinking about combining a natural health product with your conventional medical treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and rely only on a natural health product. This is especially important for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
When using natural health products, keep in mind the following:
Other Works Consulted
Bjelakovic G, et al. (2013). Antioxidant supplements to prevent mortality. JAMA, 310(11): 1178–1179.
Murray MT (2013). Flavonoids: Quercetin, citrus flavonoids, and hydroxyethylrutosides. In JE Pizzorno, MT Murray, eds., Textbook of Natural Medicine, 4th ed., pp. 772–779. St. Louis: Elsevier.
Ronzio RA (2013). Naturally occurring antioxidants. In JE Pizzorno, MT Murray, eds., Textbook of Natural Medicine, 4th ed., pp. 891–914. St. Louis: Elsevier.
Current as ofJune 28, 2018
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family MedicineBrian O'Brien, MD, FRCPC - Internal MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: June 28, 2018
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Brian O'Brien, MD, FRCPC - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
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