It’s a continuing puzzle even for scientists why people who eat lots of fruit and vegetables are less likely to develop diseases like cancer and heart disease. Sure, fresh fruits are generally low in fat and high in fiber, but it’s much more than that.
Recent studies have shown that part of the benefit from eating fresh produce everyday comes from antioxidants. These are substances that defend our body against the ravages brought on by free radicals. The first ever antioxidants to catch the attention of scientists and the vitamin supplement industry is beta-carotene or more commonly known as Vitamin A. Now, you can find antioxidant supplements in the form of Vitamin A capsules in almost any pharmacy or health food store.
Beta-carotene antioxidant supplements generally come from orange, yellow, and green leafy vegetables and fruit. It has been observed that people who eat a lot of foods rich in beta-carotene are not generally prone to cancer. However, the beta-carotene antioxidant supplements didn’t last that long in the industry. It seemed that in most major trials designed to see whether taking extra beta-carotene antioxidant supplements could ward off cancer, beta-carotene didn’t do a good job at it. Worse, beta-carotene antioxidant supplements and pills seemed to increase rates of cancer for smokers in two large trials.
And so, studies began to look towards other sources of antioxidants as possible antioxidant supplements. Vitamins C and E were the next contenders but again, studies showed mixed results. Although Vitamin C antioxidant supplements didn’t look as though it could reduce the risk of cancer or heart disease, it didn’t have any adverse effects either. In fact, Vitamin C might even provide some protection against loss of sight associated with cataracts in older people.
So far the most promising of all antioxidant supplements is Vitamin E, especially when it comes to working against heart disease. People who eat more foods rich in Vitamin E tend to have reduced risk of heart disease.
Antioxidant supplements have been available for years now and while they can’t substitute for a healthy diet and lifestyle, they do play a role in reinforcing your overall health and resilience. It is best to take antioxidant supplements in the form of combination products. Multiple antioxidants tend to work synergistically and far more effectively when they are taken together than when they are taken as a single antioxidant.
Most antioxidant supplements you find in health stores today contain a standard ingredient base. Antioxidant supplements generally contain vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and the mineral selenium. Other combinations include other antioxidants as well but typical antioxidant supplements include those already mentioned.