Article Title

Uselessness and potential harms of antioxidant supplementation


Whether they are used as a health or a performance enhancer, antioxidant supplements continue to be popular. Approximately one third of Americans use antioxidant supplements (Kris-Etherton et al., 2004) and most Olympic athletes use dietary supplements that include antioxidants (Huang et al, 2006). An examination of large clinical trials, meta-analyses, studies with modest sample sizes, and case studies indicated that there is little consensus about the health benefits of antioxidant supplements as they relate to morbidity, disease prevention, or mortality. At least two studies caution smokers about taking specific antioxidant supplements due to the higher incidence of lung cancer and mortality in those who supplemented with beta-carotene. Performance benefits associated with antioxidant supplements are mixed with some studies, indicating elevated antioxidant levels, lower blood lactate, and higher oxygen consumption at different intensities representing the aerobic and anaerobic thresholds, which could translate into improved performance (Aguilo et al. ,2007). Contrary to these results, Lamprecht et al. (2009) reported elevated lipid peroxidation in trained men after two weeks of antioxidant supplementation and no performance improvement. Another study (Bailey et al., 2011) reported no difference in muscle recovery or in biomarkers of oxidative stress or inflammation in individuals who took antioxidant supplements. While there is little convincing evidence to recommend antioxidant supplementation for the purpose of improving health or athletic performance, nevertheless, average Americans and Olympic athletes rely on anecdotal evidence and report that many if not most, take them anyway. Future research may provide insight into the uselessness and potential harms of antioxidant supplementation as well as the benefits that persuade some people to continue taking them.

This document is currently not available here.