Antioxidants take part in the prevention of cellular damage; a conduit for aging, cancer, and a host of other diseases. Antioxidants can safely network with free radicals and terminate their cascade before important molecules are damaged. The following is only a small part of this fascinating topic.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) Benefits
Vitamin C: Ascorbic acid is a water soluble vitamin found in citrus, spinach, green peppers, kale, cabbage, broccoli, cantaloupe, kiwi, and strawberries.
Vitamin C is one of the most effective and safest and nutrients. The benefits of vitamin C may include protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling.
As an antioxidant, vitamin C helps to prevent cataracts –The lens of the eye needs a lot of vitamin C to counteract all the free radicals that form as an effect of sunlight. It’s possible that 1,000 mg per day of vitamin C might halt cataracts and possibly recover vision.
Like other antioxidants, vitamin C helps to avert heart disease by stopping free radicals from damaging artery walls, which could cause plaque formation. Vitamin C also keeps cholesterol in the bloodstream from oxidizing, a step in the advance towards heart disease and stroke.
People with diabetes can be helped from extra vitamin C, as well. This nutrient can aid in regulating blood sugar levels. Since insulin helps vitamin C get into cells, people with diabetes may not have sufficient vitamin C.
While high levels of the amino acid homocysteine speeds up endothelial dysfunction, scientists have discovered that vitamin C (1000 mg daily for one week) reduces oxidative stress and shields the delicate vascular endothelium from the destructive effects of elevated homocysteine.
Also, researchers have found that while eating a meal high in fat temporarily impairs endothelial function for up to four hours in healthy individuals, vitamins C and E prevents this impairment. Scientists have also shown that vitamin C may reduce oxidative stress and ensuing endothelial dysfunction.
In a study of patients with coronary heart disease, vitamin C enhanced the ability of coronary arteries to expand in response to a naturally occurring vasodilator.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition October 2007 saw that people who ate foods rich in vitamin C had fewer wrinkles and less age-related dry skin than those who consumed small amounts of the vitamin.
Vitamin C helps produce collagen, which smooths fine lines and wrinkles, according to Patricia Farris, MD, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Tulane University in New Orleans..
Vitamin C also seems to protect against ultraviolet rays, which can lead to freckles and a blotchy complexion. One might consider applying a topical vitamin C cream daily after you wash your face and before you apply moisturizer.
For supplementation, the water-soluble properties of vitamin C lead to urinary excretion, suggesting one would better benefit from small doses through the day rather than a single large dose.
1,000 to 2,000 mg per day improves asthmatic symptoms and minimizes the body’s creation of histamine, which aids in inflammation.
High doses of supplemental vitamin C have been associated with the formation of kidney stones.
However, there are people that believe quite the opposite, that vitamin C helps dissolve kidney stones.
A common stone type is a mixture of calcium and oxalate, a substance seen in many foods. Some people break down vitamin C into oxalate, which may explain the connection with kidney stone formation.
However Dr. Robert F. Cathcart II weites: “I started using vitamin C in massive doses in-patients in 1969. By the time I read that ascorbate should cause kidney stones, I had clinical evidence that it did not cause kidney stones, so I continued prescribing massive doses to patients. To this day (2006) I estimate that I have put 25,000 patients on massive doses of vitamin C and none have developed kidney stones.”
Common dosage is 75 to 120 milligrams daily.
The upper limit of intake (UL) should not exceed 2,000 milligrams daily.
Those pursuing life extension through supplementation often consume much more Vitamin C than what would be recommended. We could see 1000 to 3000 milligrams per day as a good anti-aging dose. Many people prefer higher doses. The addition of bioflavonoids is often seen in supplements, as Bioflaonoids helps the vitamin C work well.
The optimum level to a holistic Physician or Naturopathic Physician is “optimum bowel tolerance.” Optimum bowel tolerance is simply taking the doses prescribed, increasing the dose until stools are loose. At that point the dose is backed up to normal for that person.
Vitamin C is safe. For people who are ill or overstressed physically or emotionally, including sleep deprived, doses are sometimes 30,000 to 40,000mg per day. For cancer patients, holistic or integrative medical specialists commonly give 50,000 to 100,000mg or 100grams IV, because it is toxic to the cancer cells yet relatively harmless to healthy cells, and it supports the immune system.
E, C, Beta-carotene and Selenium are the meat and potatoes of antioxidants, so to speak.
There are enzymes throughout the body that scavenge free radicals, the main micronutrient antioxidants are vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. Selenium is a trace mineral that is required for the body’s antioxidant enzyme systems, and is sometimes included in this group. The body cannot supply these micronutrients so they must be provided in the diet.
Vitamin E Benefits
Vitamin E (tocopherol- tocotrienols) is a fat soluble vitamin found in seeds, nuts, fish oils, whole grains and apricots.
There are eight forms of vitamin E, all of which are antioxidants. Four of these are called tocopherols and the others are tocotrienols. Your body uses mostly alpha-tocopherol, the form that is found throughout your body.
A popular benefit of vitamin E is that it protects against toxins such as air pollution, premenstrual syndrome, eye disorders such as cataracts, and helps with neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.
Vitamin E helps reduce cholesterol and the danger of developing cancer. Vitamin E thins the blood which is another significant health benefit. In other words, it prevents the blood platelets from clumping.
Another benefit of vitamin E is in skin care and hair care. Due to its antioxidant properties, vitamin E stimulates the circulation of blood to the scalp. Vitamin E helps strengthen capillary walls.
A major benefit of vitamin E oil for the skin is that it aids the healing process. As vitamin E is immersed by the epidermis of the skin, it can be used for treating sunburn or protecting you from the sun, treating scars, acne, and wrinkles because it speeds up cell regeneration. This creates an anti-aging effect.
Vitamin E oil helps the skin retain its natural moisture content. Vitamin E oil makes dull-looking, dry skin look healthier and fresher. You can apply a few drops of vitamin E oil to your nails and cuticles which is an effective way of treating the skin.
A study involving that of mice in 2007 showed that Vitamin E supplementation actually increased mortality by a few percent.
Another study in 2008 concluded that vitamin E extends the life of mice and rats under two conditions: the doses are not too high, and supplementation is long term.
Other studies continue to show that high doses of vitamin E only aid in reducing life span not extending it. It would seem reasonable to supplement with vitamin E only when needed, and at a reasonable dose.
As a supplement vitamin E is fat-soluble, it’s best absorbed when taken with food having some fat. Vitamin E loses its potency when exposed to air, heat, and light, supplements should be stored in a dark, cool place.
Adults should consume 30 to 100 IUs of vitamin E daily. The highest safe dose is 1,000 mg per day, taking more could thin the blood too much and cause bleeding problems. In addition, it is said that high doses of vitamin E can become pro-oxidant.
Beta-carotene is a red-orange pigment and is a precursor to vitamin A (retinol) and is present in liver, egg yolk, milk, butter, spinach, carrots, squash, broccoli, yams, tomato, cantaloupe, peaches, and grains. Because beta-carotene is broken down into vitamin A by the body there is no set requirement. Instead the RDA is expressed as retinol equivalents (RE), to clarify the relationship. Vitamin A has no antioxidant properties and can be quite toxic when taken in excess.
Beta-carotene is known as a pro-vitamin A compound, that the body can convert into the active form of vitamin A – retinol. Alpha-carotene, gamma-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin can also be converted.
Of the 600 known carotenoids, beta-carotene is the most studied and the most important member of the carotene family.
Beta-carotene is thought to possess many positive health benefits; in particular, vision. Because vitamin A helps guard the surface of the eye (cornea) and is important for good vision. Studies show vitamin A eye drops aid the treatment of dry eyes.
Vitamin A in combination with other antioxidants appears to play a role in lessening the risk of macular degeneration (AMD). In the an Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) sponsored by the National Eye Institute, people at high risk for the disease who ingested a daily multiple vitamin that included vitamin A (as beta carotene), vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and copper had a 25 percent reduced risk of advanced AMD during a six-year period.
A combination of vitamin A and lutein may prolong vision in people suffering from retinitis pigmentosa (RP). A four-year study conducted by researchers from Harvard Medical School and other prominent universities established that individuals with retinitis pigmentosa who ingested daily supplements of vitamin A (15,000 IU) and lutein (12 mg) had a slower loss of peripheral vision than those who did not take the combined supplements.
Beta-carotene aids in skin disorders, enhances immunity, protects against toxins and cancer formations, colds, flu, and infections. It is an antioxidant and protects cells while slowing the aging process. It is important in the formation of bones and teeth. No vitamin overdose can occur with natural Beta-Carotene.
Because beta-carotene is effective in areas of low oxygen concentrations (e.g.in the capillaries), and is fairly unaffected by contacts with cancer causing substances, it is extremely effective against free radicals.
In a study; Serum carotenoids, vitamins A and E, and 8 year lung function decline in a general population. Researchers report that heavy smokers who had high intakes of beta-carotene and vitamin E reduced their loss of lung function. These results strongly suggest that beta-carotene protects lung function in the general population.
Vitamin C and Beta-Carotene Might Protect against Dementia.
Research from a German university shows that antioxidants vitamin C and beta-carotene were significantly lower in patients with mild dementia than in control persons in a recent study. These results suggest that supplementation may provide a degree of protection against dementia.
Adults and teenagers—30 to 300 milligrams (mg) of beta-carotene (the equivalent of 50,000 to 500,000 Units of vitamin A activity) a day.
Selenium has been shown to reduce the risk of blood clotting, which can in turn lower the risk of heart attacks. It can also reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases good cholesterol (HDL) which is vital for a heart to work properly.
Selenium helps fight off infections and viruses such as cold and flu, as well as the more dangerous cancer cells by increasing the activities of white blood cells.
When combined with vitamin E, selenium helps fight conditions such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, eczema and psoriasis.
Selenium supply regulates thyroid function, thyroid hormone synthesis and metabolism by altering the expression of the selenoenzymes Type I 5′-deiodinase and glutathione peroxidase.
Because of its effects on DNA repair, apoptosis, and the endocrine and immune systems as well as other mechanisms, including its antioxidant properties, selenium might play a role in the prevention of cancer.
One of many studies was carried out at both Cornell University and the University of Arizona.
A five year study cited 63% less prostate tumors, 58% less colorectal cancers, 46% less lung malignancies and a 39% overall decrease in cancer deaths when 200mcg of selenium was consumed daily.
A study by Dr. Alexander Kutikov, an associate professor of urologic oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia looked only at men who were deficient in selenium and tracked only cases of
Serum carotenoids, vitamins A and E, and 8 year lung function decline in a general population