The body is a complex place. We take in food and turn it into energy. During that process, the body creates oxygen molecules with an extra electron. These are the dreaded free radicals that we read so much about. This is the “oxidant” that the presumably wonderful antioxidants are supposed to battle.
Also, we are bombarded with media and marketing on how important it is that we take extra anti-oxidants to prevent so many problems: aging, dementia, cancer, and other degenerative diseases. What is often unmentioned, however, is that our own body creates its own natural antioxidants, which already are doing work in our body to keep balance. We naturally take in antioxidants through the fruits and vegetables we eat. Eating foods rich in Vitamin C and A are very important to create a healthy balance in our bodies between oxidants and anti-oxidants.
A recent study suggests that our body's natural oxidants are valuable in fighting cancer, and that high levels of antioxidant supplements can actual be harmful. That is because, in addition to harming good cells, oxidants also prevent cancer cells from establishing elsewhere in the body. The study in the highly respected journal, Nature, concludes:
Dietary supplementation with antioxidants actually increases incidence and death from lung and prostate cancer. Dietary supplementation with folate promotes the development and progression of breast cancer. Our results suggest that antioxidants promotes disease progression, at least in melanoma, by promoting metastasis.
The bottom line is that junk science is rampant. Our bodies are complex organisms that have evolved to be in balance. When it comes to the anti-oxidant craze, you probably are better off just making sure you get a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, just like our parents always told us.