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Am J Clin Nutr. 1996 Jun;63(6):985S-990S.

Oxidative damage and defense.

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  • 1USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Western Human Nutrition Research Center, San Francisco, CA 94129, USA.

Abstract

Increased production of reactive oxygen species is a feature of most, if not all, human disease, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. Dietary antioxidants may be especially important in protecting against human diseases associated with free radical damage to cellular DNA, lipids, and proteins. Ascorbic acid is an effective water-soluble antioxidant, and epidemiologic studies suggest that increased ascorbate nutriture is associated with reduced risk of some degenerative diseases, especially cancer and eye cataracts. Population studies have also shown that high vitamin E intakes are associated with decreased risk of coronary heart disease, possibly as a result of inhibition of atherogenic forms of oxidized low-density lipoprotein. Recent data suggest that beta-carotene provides protection against lipid peroxidation in humans, as well as provitamin A activity. Yet, present data are not sufficient to quantitate micronutrient requirements needed to protect against oxidative damage. The antioxidant roles of many food constituents, such as polyphenols, have not been clarified. Most antioxidants can act as prooxidants under certain conditions, and more research is needed to determine the occurrence and importance of this in vivo. The few controlled intervention trials carried out so far have shown mixed results as to the potential of antioxidant supplements for reducing the incidence of chronic diseases. Definitive recommendations on antioxidant intakes for disease prevention must await evidence from controlled studies and intervention trials, some currently in progress. Overall, the present data suggest that protection against oxidative damage and related disease is best served by the variety of antioxidant substances found in fruit and vegetables.

PMID:
8644698
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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