Anti-antioxidant Analysis

antixodant-vitaminResearchers from Denmark analyzed data from over 60 studies, involving more than two hundred thousands of participants, to analyze the effects of many common antioxidant supplements on mortality. The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in February 2007. The conclusion: “Treatment with beta carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E may increase mortality.”

This research is a prime example of how data can be cherry-picked to skew results. For example, of the more than 800 antioxidant studies available for assessment, fewer than six dozen were chosen for review. The average duration of the participants’ antioxidant use was only 2.7 rears-hardly long enough to ascertain an effect on mortality. Many of the studies analyzed were grossly misrepresentative of the typical supplement regimen. For instance, one study included patients who took a single dose of 200,000 IU of vitamin A-a huge and potentially toxic dose, as compared to the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 3,500 IU to 5,000 IU for adults, and a daily optimal intake of 10,000 IU to 50,000 IU.

Also, many of the research analyzed had used synthetic forms of vitamin E and beta carotene-though it has been well established that these synthetic supplements do not duplicate the effects of their natural counterparts. I doubt you could even find synthetic vitamin E in a health-food store. It’s no surprise that these are the same authors who published a 2004 study attacking antioxidants, without any balanced reporting on the numerous positive studies. Balz Frei, PhD, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at Oregon State University and director of the prestigious Linus Pauling Institute, says, “This is a flawed analysis of flawed data. Instead of causing harm, the totality of the evidence indicates that antioxidants from foods or supplements have many health benefits, including reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, eye disease, and neurodegenerative disease. Additionally, they are a key to an enhanced immune system and resistance to infection.” I heartily agree.