Stop Oxidants? Stop Breathing! The Antioxidant Hoax

by Kerry Cue

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Evidence gathered over the past few years shows that, at best, antioxidant supplements do little or nothing to benefit our health. dark red quote 2

Lisa Melton,The antioxidant myth: a medical fairy tale, New Scientist, 05 August 2006.

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Eat. Pray. Breathe Oxidants.

We breathe oxygen. The oxygen is carried around our body by red blood cells. And, guess what? Oxygen is an oxidant. It ‘burns’ or ‘oxidises’ fuel in our cells. We get energy. The red blood cells then carry the carbon dioxide produced by oxidation back to our lungs and we breath it out. Sometimes, these oxidising reactions are incomplete producing free radicals or, as scientists like to call them, Reactive Oxygen Species, ROS.

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Lisa Melton attacked the popular belief that anti-oxidants have magical health benefits in the New Scientist. In the article biochemist Barry Halliwell from the National University of Singapore explains that “One per cent of the oxygen we consume turns into ROS.” Other free radical producing factors include X-rays, smoking, air pollutants, bacteria and intensive exercise. When subjects with diets high in fruit and veg were found to suffer lower incidence of heart disease, diabetes, dementia, stroke and some cancers the theory that antioxidants mop up free radicals was born. It has sponsored a $US 23 Billion supplement industry and that is not even including superfoods.

According to Melton ‘Time and again, however, the supplements failed to pass the test. ‘True, they knock the wind out of free radicals in a test tube. But once inside the human body, they seem strangely powerless.’ Evidence suggests that sometimes anti-oxidants can even do harm. One study involving 18,000 subjects had to be stopped when researchers found the cancer rates rose in those given beta carotene supplements.

Even antioxidants should be consumed in moderation.

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Photo Source: atomictoasters blog

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