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February 22, 2013
We heard a lot about antioxidants, magic natural substances with truly amazing properties. Antioxidants can be found in plenty of natural foods, including red wine, green tea, cocoa beans, forest berries, some fruits and vegetables, and so on. Antioxidant effects include, first of all, very powerful protection against oxidative stress, or damage that causes oxygen exposure to our cells. Oxygen exposure is linked to aging, and by using antioxidants our body cells can protect themselves against these destructive processes on cellular levels. Other known valuable antioxidant effects are cardiovascular health strengthening and natural protection against tumor development. Some studies have also shown that by using natural antioxidant sources it is possible to improve mental health, stimulate our brain and reduce dementia risk, as well as strengthen our overall health and increase our life expectancy.
For many decades it was believed that antioxidants of natural origin are very powerful and unique substances to be used for disease prevention by all people with a great efficiency. However, as the latest study suggests, not everyone of us can benefit from antioxidant effects to the same degree. A group of scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found out that aging people who consume plenty of natural antioxidant sources have lower chances to avoid developing serious diseases like dementia or a stroke. According to the findings published a few days ago in online edition of Neurology magazine, it is hard for aging people to decrease their cardiovascular disease or dementia risk by using natural antioxidants, including the most common ones: poly phenols, phenols, flavonoids, selenium, vitamin C, vitamin E, and other antioxidants.
During the study, scientists analyzed extensive information collected on about 5,400 people aged over 55, offered by a Dutch health care organization. Since 1990, the participants were preparing detailed reports about their daily diet and natural food consumption, which included the list of over 170 various types of natural foods. By tracking the participants and their health condition for about 15 years, the scientists managed to find out that about 600 of the participants suffered from a stroke, and about the same number of the participants were diagnosed with a dementia like brain disorder, including about 480 cases of Alzheimer’s disease. Since the main objective of the study was to analyze antioxidant effects and the links between antioxidant consumption and dementia risk, the researchers evaluated daily consumption of antioxidant rich foods of the participants, as well as possible effects of other factors.
It turned out that those participants who reported consuming plenty of green tea, cocoa, berries, red wine and other known antioxidant sources, had approximately the same risk to suffer from a cardiovascular condition or dementia like brain disorders compared to the participants who did not report consuming enough of natural antioxidant sources. Possible effects of smoking as one of the key factors for developing the mentioned diseases were also eliminated. To make sure that the findings are correct, the researchers made a series of brain scans on about 460 participants, and discovered that there were no connections between natural antioxidant consumption and the amounts of gray or white matter in the brain. Thus, antioxidant effects do not work for aging people, the scientists suggest.
“There is the thought that overall antioxidants might be helpful, but it’s also true that if you actually look at the individual antioxidants, there’s not necessarily a reason to think that one would behave exactly the same way in the body as the next,” said Elizabeth Devore, the study leader, Epidemiologist in Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School. However, since the study failed to understand the mechanisms of the established links, as well as taking into account numerous other findings showing that by using vitamins C and E it is possible to prevent stroke and dementia risk, the expert recommends aging people continue using these antioxidants. “For dementia specifically and stroke specifically, if you’re worried about those… you should try to take in vitamin E for dementia and vitamin C for stroke,” Devore suggested.Author Info: Hi! My name is Carla and I am a 5th year medical student at HYMS. I am interested in alternative medicine and I have done months researching the topic of herbal medicine. Besides, I like interviewing people and learning more about their experiences with one or another type of herbal treatments. I am willing to contribute to this site with my knowledge, and I would be happy to help you out to the best of my ability with any specific questions or problems related to alternative medicine.