Antioxidants are Bad for Your Health!?

February 2011, Xtend-Life Expert


Once upon a time, I respected Newsweek for reasonably accurate reporting. Now I’m not so sure! According to Newsweek - natural antioxidants in fruits, vegetables, and various super foods can kill you...

Once upon a time, I respected Newsweek for reasonably accurate reporting. Now I’m not so sure!

According to Newsweek - natural antioxidants in fruits, vegetables, and various super foods can kill you.

The ‘Proof’

As ‘proof’, they quote the UK-based Cochrane Collaboration study which claims there is “no evidence to support antioxidant supplements for primary or secondary prevention, [and] Vitamin A, beta-carotene, and vitamin E may increase mortality.”

I suggest that since this collaborative study reviewed flawed data, their conclusions are quite likely to be flawed too!

For example, most of the studies of vitamin E they reviewed used alpha-tocopherol only. In nature, alpha-tocopherol is never found alone, but always with varying quantities of beta-, delta-, and gamma-tocopherol. Similarly, using beta-carotene alone in large quantities, without the alpha, gamma, and other carotenoids consistently found together in nature is also likely to cause problems. This also applies to any one of the forms of vitamin A (such as retinal, retinoic acid, and retinol) without the others, and without the other substances such as (whole) vitamin E always found with vitamin A in nature.

Further, Newsweek reference a British "chemist and science writer", David Bradley, He claims that "oxidizing agents," (or free radicals), are “a front-line of immune defence against pathogens and cancer cells”. This leads him to conclude: “taking antioxidant supplements ... may not necessarily be good for your health if you already have health problems,”


The Other View...

Who says “oxidizing agents are a front-line of immune defence against pathogens and cancer cells”? The scientific facts about both antioxidants and the oxidative agents they target completely contradicts Bradley's unfounded statement.

Oxidative stress damages the body's cells, and this cell damage leads to a host of chronic diseases and rapid aging. It is the antioxidants that scavenge and root out these damaging offenders and protect the body from harm. Not the other way around as Newsweek suggests.

It is bizarre to say that antioxidants are harmful to health. Countless studies have shown they boost immunity, prevent oxidative damage, protect against the negative effects of aging, and generally improve overall health.

Indeed, most health experts agree with the likes of Dr. Lester Packer, the world’s foremost antioxidant research scientist, that: "There is overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrating that those of us who eat a diet rich in antioxidants and take antioxidant supplements will live longer, healthier lives."

What else does Newsweek claim? How about this for ‘creative journalism’.....

More Creative Journalism

How about this ‘interpretation’ of the researcher’s findings....“A paper to appear in an upcoming issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that antioxidants might impair fertility.”


Now let’s read what the researchers actually wrote: “Our experiments show that administration of broad-range scavengers of oxidative species into the ovarian bursa of mice, hormonally induced to ovulate, and significantly reduced the rate of ovulation.”[3]

Are any of you ladies likely to inject broad-range scavengers of reactive oxygen species into your ovaries? Which broad-range scavengers? Can we directly compare “ovarian bursa of mice’ with human female ovaries?

Newsweek concludes its article with recently published research articles on relatively obscure animal uses of “antioxidants.” In one done in rats, the researchers are misquoted as writing: “It is time to re-evaluate the tumorigenic detrimental effect of ‘antioxidants’” (the Newsweek version).

What the researchers actually wrote was, “It is time to re-evaluate the tumorigenic detrimental effect of PAO [phyto-antioxidants], especially those exhibiting prooxidant bioactivity.”[1] The researchers recognized, and apparently Newsweek could or would not, that the plant materials they researched actually functioned as pro-oxidants and antioxidants (or “redox reaction regulators.)


So much for the attempted, but failed, Newsweek “hatchet job” against “antioxidants.” Clearly, we need to be very cautious of “health advice” offered by Newsweek or any of the mainstream media

Doesn’t it also raise the question: “Why do mainstream media slander the very nutritional components that give us life, yet they remain largely silent about the many dangers caused by conventional medical treatments and pharmaceutical drugs?”

To ponder...



[1] Hsieh CL, Peng CC, et al. “Quercetin and Ferulic Acid Aggravate Renal Carcinoma in Long-Term Diabetic Victims.” J Agric Food Chem, July 29, 2010 [Epub ahead of print]

[3] Shkolnik K, Tadmor A, et al. “Reactive oxygen species are indispensable in ovulation.” Published online before print, January 10, 2011, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1017213108 PNAS January 10, 2011

Related Article


  • “Hello Joan, This is Caramia, who wrote the above blog! Both Joanna and I responded to your question about BO, which you can find in the Comments section of my blog "Food Addiction: Personal Choice or Biological Craving?" I have also answered your questions about tests there, so please take a look. Regarding your other questions, I appreciate your wish to "find the best supplements…" Here are my comments… 1. Our Omega 3 oil is a 2000mg proprietary blend of 50% exceptionally pure, natural hoki fish triglyceride oil and 50% highly purified molecularly distilled ethyl ester tuna oil. It does not include krill. 2. We do not advise taking cod liver oil in any form because Cod liver oil is very low in natural DHA. Also, as the extract comes from the liver, it can contain toxins and potentially excess Vit A. For health benefits, we suggest a soft gel omega 3 fish oil taken from the flesh and skeleton of the fish NOT from the liver or any organs. 3. To understand how our fish oils are made and their benefits, please see out ‘Buyers Guide’, Additional information can be found by going to our OMEGA 3/DHA page and hovering over/clicking on the more information tab. 4. Just to be clear re our hoki: it is definitely a cold water fish and caught in the Southern Ocean off New Zealand at latitudes 40 50 degrees south, so the water certainly is cold! The oil is taken from the flesh, not from the liver. Hoki is not a particularly oily fish but it is still viable because we process the fish fresh. If it has been frozen then it is hard to get a good yield of oil. I hope this addresses your issues Joan. Thanks, Caramia”

    Xtend-Life Expert - February 18 2011

  • “Thanks Joanna – I made the post about body odor – I was wondering – Is there a test available to test for what could be the cause in relation to thyroid or digestion, etc.? Is the omega 3 supplement only made with hoki fish? or does it include krill too? There was a review about the omega 3 supplement that I read – This is what it said Hoki not an oily fish but a whitefish. Where a small amt of DHA level is stored in the liver which means the fish does not naturally have a high concentration of DHA. Ive read that it is not a good idea to get DHA pills that are made from cod liver and wouldnt the same apply to the hoki since the DHA is extracted from the hoki liver? What I found is that the best DHA supplement is one that is derived from the purest location, from an oily fish, and molecularly distilled. An Oily fish, oil-rich fish or pelagic fish oil is derived from the tissues of oily fish and throughout the body and the fillet and in the belly cavity around the gut, rather than only in the liver since white fish contains oil only in their liver. Hence again, the hoki is a whitefish not an oily fish. Some examples of oily fish include sardine, pilchards, trout, anchovies, salmon, tuna, and mackerel, among others. Oily fish fillets may contain up to 30 percent oil, although this figure varies both within and between species. Oily fish generally swim in the pelagic zonePelagic zone. While the open seas of the oceans are usually cold water fish (while white fish are warm water fish). So learning that, how is it that you can claim that your supplement is the best since your company prides itself from gettting oils from a cold water fish but in realitiy the hoki fish is a warm water fish? I am a consumer and am trying to find the best supplement for myself and for my family. But want to research as thorough as possible to find the best pill. In terms of pureness, that I can believe since the hoki is found in the NZ/Austrailia meaning it is less polluted than other locations but in terms of extracting the oils from the liver instead of the whole fish is not sounding so great. Can you help in explaining this. thanks”

    Joan - February 18 2011

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