ANTIOXIDANTS GOOD OR BAD? Are they Safe?
As you may have seen on Dr. Oz today, the truth is coming out about the questionable safety of synthetic antioxidants and vitamins supplements.
For the past few years, antioxidants have been touted as a great source of good health. They play a vital role in keeping free radicals in our bodies in check. Yet lately, there have been a plethora of articles negating these good effects. So what to believe?
The most popular antioxidants studied are Vitamin E, Vitamin C and Beta-Carotene, the precursor form of Vitamin A in their regular synthetic forms. Unless they are whole food supplements, with no synthetic ingredients, regular vitamins found in the supplement aisle are synthetically produced. It seems that only synthetic versions of antioxidants have been studied. It should be no surprise to anyone that synthetic supplements have no positive impact on our health.
Some of the people tested were already in a high-risk category, such as heavy smokers whose body cells are exposed to free radical damage and oxidative stress from the cigarette smoke, therefore their cells are already pre-cancerous. These people were already at high risk and giving them high amounts of synthetic antioxidants didn't change that. The fact is, both cancer and normal cells thrive in such an environment and giving them whole food antioxidants can be only beneficial.
Before we eradicate years of research stating that antioxidants are healthy, we must first realize that not all antioxidants are equal. And then, we must take into account how some of these studies were conducted. In 1994, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) study was conducted on men who were heavy smokers and were then given synthetic supplements. It's no wonder that the antioxidants didn't prevent the cancer that developed, they were already pre-cancerous. In 1996, there was another study, the Beta-Carotene and Retinol Efficacy Trial (CARET), which involved men and women who
were again, at high-risk for lung cancer. Again, the antioxidants didn't help. The opposite was true, the incidence of cancer actually increased in those who were taking the synthetic supplements. i
There is no doubt that synthetic supplements are not healthy for anyone, especially for those who are already vulnerable or pre-cancerous. Ideally, we would get our antioxidants from food sources, but those too, have been compromised. Pesticides and other chemicals used in farming today means that produce itself aren't as healthy as it used to be. Not to mention the air we breathe and the water we drink isn't what it used to be. So many people have begun to supplement, thinking they would then get the antioxidants to help. With synthetic vitamins, however, a bad situation is made even worse. However, synthetic vitamins may impede the absorption of nutrients from food, warns the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). Also many people are allergic to the chemicals used as a base for synthetic vitamins. Some are toxic, including nicotine, coal tars and alloxal. Avoid toxic ingredients such as magnesium stearate or stearic acid (toxic flowing agents), silicon dioxide (common sand used as an expensive filler that makes the bottle weigh more with the hope that the uneducated consumer will equate weight with higher quality), natural flavors (a common term for toxic MSG used to disguise bland tastes), methylcellulose, carnauba wax, titanium dioxide, and many more. Most people do not know that most B vitamins are made from petrochemicals! If you are not sure of what you are taking, do not take it! These toxic chemical agents can create significant health problems when consumed over time. Moreover, fat-soluble vitamins can accumulate in the body, leading to an array of toxic reactions at high doses. ii
When you look at some of the chemicals found in these synthetic vitamins, it is no wonder they had detrimental effects on the people in the studies. The key is that natural, whole food vitamins are best. They are ingredients our bodies recognize and can help stop the free radicals. At Vitatree, we pride ourselves in using only whole foods in all our supplements and no additional chemicals are ever added. That's why we can say, with pride, that our VitaFruits and VitaVeggies act as a multi-nutrient supplement, high in natural antioxidants, boosting energy, helping to slow the aging process and to maintain a healthy weight. They are also anti-inflammatory and promote healthy heart and circulation. We use only the best high ORAC fruits and vegetables and nothing else.
You should never compare apples to oranges. Not all antioxidants are created equal. There hasn't been a study done on healthy people using whole food supplements. Also, other factors, such as a person's diet, lifestyle, dehydration, lack of sleep, etc. were also never taken into account.
Therefore, to say all antioxidants are bad for you is not realistic nor fair. Quality is the difference and whole food antioxidants are the best medicine.
In Good Health,
Dr. Janine Bowring, ND
Omenn GS, Goodman GE, Thornquist MD, et al. Effects of a combination of beta carotene and vitamin A on lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. N Engl J Med. 1996;334:1150-1155.