Are Antioxidant Supplements Doing More Harm Than Good?

Antioxidant vitamins have been touted as the answer to heart diseases. However, are antioxidants really doing more harm than good? Today researchers continue to study such vitamins as A, C and E as antioxidants. Antioxidants seek particles, oxygen free radicals that are products of normal chemical process of the human body. Oxygen free radicals that are increased by smoking exposure to the environmental pollution and stress could cause damage to cell membranes. This is believed that oxygen free radicals cause a lot of different diseases and disorders including heart disease and cancer. However, studies have yet to explain what role vitamins could play in decreasing damage by oxygen free radicals and preventing diseases.

One of the most important of the antioxidant vitamins is vitamin E. studies have not yet demonstrated how beneficial it is in lessening or preventing coronary artery disease and blood clots – main factors in heart attacks and strokes. Due to the lack of clear cut evidence, a lot of physicians recommend people, especially those with risk factors for heart diseases and smokers to take 100-400 IU per day.

Vitamin C is touted for its anti-infection properties and some research studies have connected a deficit of vitamin C with increased risk for angina, stroke and heart disease. One study reported that the vitamin could help the elasticity of blood vessels which will be a factor in arteriosclerosis. But, the majority of research of the role of vitamin C in preventing heart disease is inconclusive. You can take vitamin C to prevent cold, but not a heart attack.

Some of the B vitamins, including vitamin B3, B6, B12 and folic acid have some value on fighting heart disease. For example, vitamin B3 can lower triglyceride and LDL levels, both of which increase the risk of heart disease and increase the level of HDL (good cholesterol). Vitamin B3 is available over-the-counter, however it has to be prescribed by a physician for treatment of potential or present heart disease. Vitamin B3 could have some uncomfortable side effects and has to be monitored closely by the doctor. Vitamins B6, B1 and folic acid work against homocysteine – an amino acid that is associated with coronary artery disease.

Other nutrients and minerals play minor roles in preventing heart diseases as well. Magnesium, calcium and chromium are being studied for their effects on blood pressure, cholesterol levels and coronary artery disease. Researchers have not yet gained sufficient results to recommend these supplements. If you are at a risk for heart disease or stroke, you could want to consult your doctor about the benefits that these supplements can offer you.

While the research may not yet support the use of antioxidant vitamins and minerals in the prevention of heart disease, there are some other valid reasons to considering using these supplements.

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