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Anti-Oxidant, fountain of youth or Supplemental Disaster?


 Sam Maeng



Since the beginning of time people around the world have looked for ways to prolong life.  Man has stumbled many times in looking for such a commodity.  Although there is no such thing as ambrosia, alternative methods delve into hoping that some method will prolong life even a little.  Anti-oxidants has been looked to in order to answer this eternal question of prolonged life.






Vitamin A (retinol, beta carotene)Vitamin A (retinol), a fat-soluble lipid , is also known as beta carotene.  Vitamin A is essential to skeletal growth, normal reproductive function, and the health of the skin and mucous membranes. A deficiency of vitamin A can cause retarded skeletal growth, night blindness, various abnormalities of the skin and linings of the genitourinary system and gastrointestinal tract.  The eye disorders that result from a deficiency of vitamin A can lead to permanent blindness. Over consumption of vitamin A can cause irritability, painful joints, growth retardation, liver and spleen enlargement, hair loss, and birth defects.”  (



Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

“Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid is necessary to several metabolic processes. Deficiency of vitamin C results in scurvy  The uses of mega doses of ascorbic acid to prevent common colds, stress, mental illness, cancer, and heart disease is a continuing subject of research. A large daily dosage of Vitamin C daily had pro-oxidant as well as antioxidant effects and could damage DNA, the genetic material.”  (






Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)

“Vitamin E appears in vegetable oils as well as green leafy vegetables, wheat germ, and eggs. Tocopherol is necessary for the maintenance of cell membranes. It is a potent antioxidant.  In large doses, it has an anticoagulant effect.” (










Anti-oxidants to the rescue!

Antioxidant is a substance that neutralizes free radicals.  This is done through oxygen.  As O2 molecules, aka free radicals, linger around in the body they can be hazardous.  In order to stop O2 molecules from causing any harm, antioxidants combat the O2 molecule with another oxygen molecule in order to make it stable and keep it from wandering off.  Anti-Oxidants are also found in rubber and gasoline in order to preserve the longevity of the substance.  If oxygen molecules are not neutralized they combined with other substances to create oxidation.









          It is hypothesized by many scientists that the main reason for aging is due to oxidation.  Something as harmless as the air we breathe causes the breakdown of DNA molecules as well as cells.  A chemical reaction is the process of two molecules joining.  An example is of this is magnesium and oxygen which when bonded together forming magnesium oxide.  Although this naturally occurring element is beneficial with its many uses, inside the body it is a different story.  O2 which is a free radical can bond with all types of important molecules inside the body, this process is called oxidation.  “Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd  (unpaired) number of electrons and can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. Once formed these highly reactive radicals can start a chain reaction, like dominoes. Their chief danger comes from the damage they can do when they react with important cellular components such as DNA, or the cell membrane. Cells may function poorly or die if this occurs. To prevent free radical damage the body has a defense system of antioxidants”   (  As free radicals linger around in the body it has a natural tendency to bond with other molecules good or bad.  One of the biggest problems with O2 is that it needs electrons and therefore is highly bondable.  By stripping the important molecules from DNA chains it causes the DNA chain to die.  DNA loss is another theory that claims DNA loss as the reason for ageing.  Other scientists believe that the bonds created by O2 can cause cancer because of the build up of excess cells.  




Health Company’s perspective


          The main purposes of anti-oxidants are to promote a healthy life.  Some people take anti-oxidants in hopes for either dietary purposes and/or nutritional treatment.  Also anti-oxidants are said to slow down the aging process.  According to the founder of the companies says, “As we get older, the incidence of heart disease, cataracts, strokes, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and some cancers, all increase sharply. Controlled medical studies of people suffering from or at risk of each of these age-related illnesses have shown substantial, measurable benefits from supplementation with antioxidants.”  The company also adds in foreign substances such as Alpha Lipoic Acid, Coenzyme Q10 and Tocotrienols

        According to (, “A safe and reasonable adult daily intake of anti-oxidants for a beneficial protective effect against free radical damage is at least 1000 mg of vitamin C, 400 IU of vitamin E, and 200 micrograms of selenium.”   There are also different ways of intaking anti-oxidants such are pills called Musashi's Mega Antioxidant Formula or Pretorius Anti-Ox.






Dangers or Health supplement?


Natural anti-oxidants inside the body have been proven to prevent oxidation.  Vitamins A, C, E, and beta carotene are some of the main anti-oxidants used by the body to fight against oxidation.  Fruits can provide a healthy source of all of the vitamins needed in order to maintain a healthy dose of anti-oxidants.  But, at the same time vitamins in the pill form may give too much anti-oxidant.  Others like Anthony T Diplock claims, “The toxicity of vitamin E is low; no mutagenic, teratogenic, or carcinogenic effects are known and in double-blind studies in which large amounts of vitamin E were used in humans, no side effects occurred.”  According to Seon Hwa Lee  “We have now determined that vit C induces lipid hydroperoxide decomposition to the DNA.  The compound 4,5-Epoxy-2(E)-decenal is a precursor of etheno-2'-deoxyadenosine, a highly mutagenic lesion found in human.”  Phrases such as you can never have too much vitamin C and too much of anything isn’t good for you contradict each other.  In the case of anti-oxidants this is also true. 

                Studies often contradict themselves because they are done on different standards.  For example the first test which was done with lab rats show that a lot of vitamin E is alright for the human body.  In fact even a large amount is healthy.  There are a couple of problems with this test.  First, the tests were not done on human bodies.  Secondly, how much is a large amounts.  And third, the time period of the study was not long enough.  Cancer which takes years to form can not be measured in a simple test.




Conclusion: The DL on Anti-Oxidants

          Many doctors and researches are optimistic that free radicals theory is the reason for ageing and therefore except that anti-oxidants are the key in slowing down aging.  According to David Felten, PhD, MD, Anti-oxidants provide benefits to virtually all the major systems of the body. Five bodily systems and processes stand out, however, as meriting lifetime protection because in those systems, disease and compromised health occur over a longer periods of time. Those systems are the cardiovascular system, the immune system, specific groups of nerve cells (neurons) in the brain, protection against cancers and slowing some steps in the aging process.”  Fruits and vegetable diet is preferred over pill supplements.  Because there are so many anti-oxidants out there it is hard to understand if every single one is safe.

          Although some studies have been done with antioxidants there is no conclusive evidence to support those antioxidants taken as a supplement can be either healthy or hazardous.  For example, it has long been postulated that age-related cognitive dysfunction may be in part due to oxidative stress. On the website ( “It has long been postulated that age-related cognitive dysfunction may be in part due to oxidative stress. In this study, researchers looked at 442 people between the ages of 65 and 94 over a 20 year period. They analyzed intakes of vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene, and tested memory, recognition, vocabulary and free recall. Researchers found a correlation associated with better memory performance in those persons who had higher plasma levels of vitamin C and beta carotene, and thus concluded that vitamin C and beta carotene were significant predictors of memory performance.”  In this study vitamin a type of antioxidant was used but at the same time vitamin C has other functions and can never really be proven that antioxidants were the reason. 

          Many different people present evidence that antioxidants work such as doctors, experts, and even alternative drug companies.  It is true that antioxidants do work but no one mentions that taking drugs will help slow down the process of ageing.  It is very questionable weather or not supplements will work to prevent ageing.  With constant studies done on different standards it is hard to except any of the research given to the public.  It is true anti-oxidants do help prolong life but at the same time, fruit supplements or vitamin supplements have not been proven to prolong life nor prevent cancer.  An excess of any vitamin can not be good for the body and because of this the best way to get anti-oxidants is through fruit.        




Work Cited

Lee Seon Hwa, Tomoyuki Oe, Ian A. Blair* Vitamin C-Induced Decomposition of Lipid Hydroperoxides to Endogenous Genotoxins  February 2001, 1126,1059501

Diplock, A T. Safety of antioxidant vitamins and beta-carotene. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1995, 62, 1510-1516


Halliwell, B. Vitamin C: Antioxidant or Pro-oxidant in vivo? Free Radical Research, 25,1996, 439-454


Romieu, Isabelle. Diet and Obstructive Lung Diseases.  Epidemiologic Reviews. 2001, Vol. 23 No.2



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