Should You Be Taking An Antioxidant Supplement?

There are multitudes of pills, powders, and beverages on the market today that all claim to be able to improve your health and general well being. They may claim to contain various vitamins and minerals intended to improve the way your body functions and strengthen the immune system.

One type of nutrient that has been around for a long time but has gained recent popularity is an antioxidant supplement, intended to promote heart health and prevent cancer. Vitamin C, which is found in citrus fruits like oranges and pineapple, is one example that slows or halts free radical production, thereby reducing the risk for cancer.

Free radicals cause cancer by damaging the body at the cellular level and interfering with normal cell processes. However, many people find themselves with vitamin deficiencies because they do not include enough variation their diet, which can lead to poor health. For those that don’t include citrus fruits containing vitamin C in their diet, many vitamin C antioxidant supplements are available right in the grocery store. Personal fitness trainers often recommend that their clients take such a pill in addition to protein and iron pills to maintain overall strength and health.

The American Heart Association Weighs In

Despite the growing popularity of these vitamin pills, the American Heart Association does not recommend taking an antioxidant supplement to improve heart health. This is contrary to what most people know about the steps toward prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Conventional wisdom seems to be that an antioxidant supplement, moderate exercise and improved diet are all part of a good battle plan against cardiovascular disease. However, the American Heart Association has maintained that there is no conclusive evidence to show any increased cardiovascular protection due to these vitamin pills.

They continue to recommend a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and legumes to satisfy the body’s nutritional needs. Despite the fact that there currently isn’t any evidence that obtaining these nutrients in pill form presents and danger an antioxidant supplement is simply too inefficiently absorbed by the body to be particularly effective. While there may be no harm done by them, it seems there may be no benefit either. However, despite the American Heart Association’s stance on the matter, many health professionals continue to recommend antioxidant supplements, suggesting that more research needs to be done before a final verdict is reached on the issue.