Antioxidants in food: mere myth or magic medicine?

Author: Berger RG, Lunkenbein S, Ströhle A, Hahn A.
Affiliation: a Institute of Food Chemistry, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz University, Callinstr. 5 , Hannover , 30167 , Germany.
Conference/Journal: Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr.
Date published: 2012 Feb
Other: Volume ID: 52 , Issue ID: 2 , Pages: 162-71 , Word Count: 216

The powerful action of antioxidants in preventing premature lipid oxidation in food suggests that the same compounds, when consumed with the daily diet, could unfold antioxidative/anti-aging effects in the human body. Therefore, it has been hypothesized that antioxidants are helpful in preventing various diseases. More detailed chemical and physiological examination of antioxidants shows, however, that the extrapolation of in vitro data to in vivo behavior may be misleading. Indeed, such a procedure fails to take into account the mismatch between most in vitro models (e.g., cell cultures) and in vivo systems. For example, the physiological relevance of pro-oxidative and other physiological activities of antioxidants have been largely underestimated. Actually, contrary to the antioxidant hypothesis, clinical trials testing the health benefits of dietary antioxidants have reported rather mixed or negative results. Many clinical studies have not taken into account the nutrikinetic and nutridynamic nature of antioxidants. Further, oxidative stress is not only an inevitable event in a healthy human cell, but responsible for the functioning of vital metabolic processes, such as insulin signaling and erythropoietin production. In the light of recent physiological studies it appears more advisable to maintain the delicate redox balance of the cell than to interfere with the antioxidant homeostasis by a non-physiological, excessive exogenous supply of antioxidants in healthy humans.

PMID: 22059961