Wednesday, August 6, 2008

How to Get Your Anti-Oxidants - Food or Supplements?

There is a common debate among those wanting optimal nutrition. How best to get your anti-oxidants - food or supplements? Those against the food often cite things like with today's pesticides and fertilizers, you cannot trust or get enough nutrients from food. You need to take supplements to reliably get enough anti-oxidants. Unfortunately this argument is perpetuated by advertisements from the supplement industry, maybe mixed with some fear among the public.

Food sources are not only the best way to get our anti-oxidants, they are the only reliable way to get them in a way that actually helps prevent the ills of oxidation, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Why, because there are so many anti-oxidants and natural food is the only way to get them all, and in a blend designed so well by nature.

What anti-oxidants am I talking about? The main ones fall into the category of beta carotene and the carotenoids. These are the beneficial components of plants, our vegetables and fruits. There are at least 50-60 of them in healthy foods that benefit our bodies. One or several in a single expensive supplement does not come close to matching this. The other anti-oxidants, folic acid, vitamin C and vitamin E have all been shown to benefit us best when obtained naturally from foods rather than supplements. Pick your food from reliable sources and you do not need to worry about the pestacides and fertilizers.

You might say that some supplements are actually ground up food sources. Ok, but do you think you are really getting enough in that pill? I look at little capsules of grape seed extract and laugh, how much can be in there?

Save your money and develop healthy food habits and practice them every day. Get berries and other fruits every day. I eat a banana and have blueberries in my cereal every morning. Have good vegetables every day at lunch and dinner. This practice keeps me healthy and at the right weight, and I know that I do not need expensive supplements to complete my nutrition. We have access to the greatest variety of healthy food in the history of mankind. If we are smart about that, we can be the healthiest people ever.


Anne said...

"I look at little capsules of grape seed extract and laugh, how much can be in there?"

I am really bothered by this statement. Do you laugh at the little capsules of "real" medicine and ask how much can be in there? My Altace capsule is awfully small.

Getting one's antioxidants(and other nutrients) from food may be fine IF diet is based on healthy, whole foods. What sort of diet are your patients eating? Are they eating whole foods that are full of nutrients? I would bet that many, if not most, are eating a diet that is based on processed foods. Foods from high starch grains and sweetened with high fructose corn syrup will not supply good nutrients. Surprisingly, some of these sugary foods are even promoted by the American Heart Association as healthy.

How about diseases or medications that may deplete nutrients including antioxidants. Is it possible supplementation may be necessary to offset these problems? Macular degeneration is one example of antioxidant supplementation making a difference. There is now a new study with new antioxidants being tested.

I am glad there are scientists and doctors who continue to research antioxidants and their effects.

Anonymous said...

IMHO, the supplement industry preys on peoples fears and media-based knowledge. They themsleves have strived to remain "not drugs", (and therefore not subject to oversite and federal regulation.) To compare that grapeseed extract cap with an Altace is almost scary.
No one is going to rescue poor diet choices with supplements. They are fooling themselves and wasting their $.