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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Antioxidants
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Antioxidants protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. Many experts believe this damage is a factor in the development of blood vessel disease (atherosclerosis), cancer, and other conditions.
You are exposed to free radicals:
Antioxidants include some vitamins (such as vitamins C and E), some minerals (such as selenium), and flavonoids, which are found in plants. The best sources of antioxidants are fruits and vegetables. You can also find flavonoids in fruits, red wine, and teas. Antioxidant supplements are also available. It is best to obtain antioxidants from a healthy diet.
Antioxidants may play a role in the management or prevention of some medical conditions, such as some cancers, macular degeneration, Alzheimer's disease, and some arthritis-related conditions.
Until more studies are done, it is best to get your antioxidants from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables rather than from supplements. Taking supplements in high doses can be harmful. No single antioxidant alone can protect the body. Most people should eat 7 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dietary supplements in the same way it regulates medicines. A dietary supplement can be sold with limited or no research on how well it works.
Always tell your doctor if you are using a dietary supplement or if you are thinking about combining a dietary supplement with your conventional medical treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and rely only on a dietary supplement. Communication is especially important for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
When using dietary supplements, keep in mind the following:
Other Works Consulted
Bjelakovic G, et al. (2013). Antioxidant supplements to prevent mortality. JAMA, 310(11): 1178–1179.
Murray MT (2013). Flavonoids: Quercetin, citrus flavonoids, and hydroxyethylrutosides. In JE Pizzorno, MT Murray, eds., Textbook of Natural Medicine, 4th ed., pp. 772–779. St. Louis: Elsevier.
Ronzio RA (2013). Naturally occurring antioxidants. In JE Pizzorno, MT Murray, eds., Textbook of Natural Medicine, 4th ed., pp. 891–914. St. Louis: Elsevier.
Current as of: December 19, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: December 19, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
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