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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Antioxidant Vitamins: An Elixir for Life?

By Michael McBurney

It is difficult to adhere to goals during this season of indulgences and special events. Self-monitoring has been shown to influence behavior even though self-reported data  may be woefully inaccurate for scientific purposes.

Inflammatory responses affect health, immunity and cancer risk. Metabolism generates reactive oxygen (and nitrogen) species which damage cells, mutate DNA and contribute to oxidative stress. An inadequate intake of antioxidants may increase oxidative stress and risk of non-communicable disease (NCD). Several new research papers highlight the health risks of inadequate antioxidant vitamin status.

With 10% of the general population being vitamin C deficient (< 23 µmol/L), Ipsen and colleagues hypothesize a lack of vitamin C may explain the increasing prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It should not be overlooked that the positive impact of vitamin E supplementation on liver function may partially reflect the fact 90% of Americans are not consuming recommended amounts of vitamin E.

Low serum 25(OH)D3 concentrations may also contribute to oxidative stress. Vitamin D supplementation (1,000 IU/d for 12 weeks) reduces markers of oxidative stress in individuals with type 2 diabetes.

Infertility is approximately 3 times higher in obese women who also have more difficulty conceiving and increased risk of complications during pregnancy. Antioxidants protect uterine implantation, maturation, and embryogenesis. Low plasma  vitamin E (plasma α-tocopherol) concentration is associated with increased risk of miscarriage in rural Bangladesh women.

From conception and throughout life, our cells require antioxidant vitamins to function. Being vigilant about health is more than monitoring steps or calories, it should include foods (or supplements) rich in antioxidant vitamins and minerals.

Main Citations

Ipsen DH, Tveden-Nyborg P, Lykkesfeldt J. Does vitamin C deficiency promote fatty liver disease development? 2014 Nutrients doi: 10.3390/nu6125473

Shab-Bidar S, Neyestani TR, Djazayery A. The interactive effect of improvement of vitamin D status and VDR FokI variants on oxidative stress in type 2 diabetic subjects: a randomized controlled trial. 2014 EJCN doi: 10. 1038/ejcn.2014.240

Shamim AA, Schulze K, Merrill RD, Kabir A, Christian P, Shaikh S, Wu L, Ali H, Labrique AB, Mehra S, Klemm RDW, Rashid M, Sungpuag P, Udomkesmalee E, West Jr KP. First trimester plasma tocopherols are associated with risk of miscarriage in rural Bangladesh. 2014 Am J Clin Nutr doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.094920

Other Citations

Grivennikov SI, Greten FR, Karin M. Immunity, inflammation, and cancer. 2014 Cell doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.01.025

Dhurandhar NV, Schoeller D, Brown AW, Heymsfield SB, Thomas D, Sorensen TI, Speakman JR, Jeansonne M, Allison DB. Energy balance measurement: when something is not better than nothing. 2014 Int J Obesity doi:  10.10138/ijo.2014.199

Lavine JE, Schwimmer JB, Van Natta ML, Molleston JP, Murray KF, Rosenthal P, Abrams SH, Scheimann AO, Sanyal AJ, Chalasani N, Tonascia J, Unalp A, Clark JM, Brunt EM, Kleiner DE, Hoofnagle JH, Robuck PR. Effect of vitamin E or metformin for treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in children and adolescents: The TONIC randomized controlled trial. 2011 JAMA doi: 10.1001/jama.2011.520

McBurney M, Yu E, Ciappio E, Bird J, Eggersdorfer M, Stoecklin E, Mehta S. Vitamin E status of the US adult population by use of dietary supplements. (1041.7) 2014 FASEB J 28 (1) 1041.7

Sim KA, Partridge SR, Sainsbury A. Does weight loss in overweight or obese women improve fertility treatment outcomes? A systematic review. 2014 Obesity Rev doi: 10.1111/obr.12217