Like so many Americans, I take dietary supplements, nothing too crazy, but I take them everyday. A recent editorial in the Sunday New York Times had me headed for the kitchen cupboards to check out the labels on my vitamins.
I know this stuff. I’m familiar with the studies that show adverse effects from too much Vitamin E, Vitamin A, and antioxidants in general, but I still like to add it all up every once in a while to make sure the cumulative dose of whatever I am taking is not working against me.
You are probably much like me, bombarded by sales pitches that sound logical. “Antioxidants fight free radical damage, which will help ward off disease and illness . . . and even physical signs of aging . . . ” This is true, BUT . . .
Too much is still too much. It is still not better. Food is a safe way to get anti-oxidants in quantities that will not be harmful. You will simply not be able to eat enough fruits and vegetables to overdo it, because you will get full before that.
What’s the harm in taking megadoses of antioxidants? The editorial points out that the risk of cancer seems to rise, because it appears that protective mechanisms in the body are harmed when we are flooded with too many antioxidants. In other words, the body’s natural balance is thrown out of whack. It’s just another reminder that the body is a smart machine, and it is made to work best with fresh natural food with minimal processing . . . and minimal monkey business with supplements.
That said, I am still taking my supplements, but I do not take megadoses of anything. Once again, moderation seems to be the best way to go.