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Indian J Clin Biochem. 2012 Jan;27(1):6-20. doi: 10.1007/s12291-011-0146-y. Epub 2011 Aug 9.

A rethinking on the benefits and drawbacks of common antioxidants and a proposal to look for the antioxidants in allium products as ideal agents: a review.

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Department of Biochemistry, Kerala University, R-1 Jainagar, Medical College PO, Trivandrum, Kerala 695011 India.


This review article on the beneficial uses of Allium antioxidants tries to give some answers to the recent doubts raised by Singh et al. (Ind J Clin Biochem 25(3):225-243, 2010) against the claim of some researchers that Antioxidants (AOs) are miraculous molecules. Many people still believe that vitamins like A, C and E are the only true AOs that play important role in the corrections of metabolic derangements in life style diseases and hence all their faults are attributed to the failures of AOs as a class. This is quite unfair as there are many other natural AOs that do equal or even better AO action than the vitamins. Such is the case with the Allium S-alkyl sulfoxide aminoacids and their breakdown products viz, the various poly sulfides and their oxides e.g. allicin and ajoene type compounds which trap electrons mainly. It is true that antioxidant vitamins and β-carotene a precursor of Vitamin A bring about problems as prooxidant or as agents that block some metabolic pathways and gene expression. Again the argument that AOs cannot improve the level of antioxidant enzymes like SOD, catalase and glutathione Px is also not universal. Actually allium AOs can even spare the use of antioxidant vitamins in the body and enhance the action of antioxidant enzymes and supply of ATP and other nutrients to the tissues as the former are good vasodialators and promoters of membrane permeability. The use of AOs should be selective and moderate. Allium AOs satisfy the role of ideal AOs based on many of their invivo and invitro actions reported by the author and others. Their metabolits can regenerate them and recycle them for a sufficient time in the body. They have non antioxidant effects also such as antiplatelet, fibrinolytic, antiinflammatory, immunomodulatory, antiageing actions etc. Plant derived AOs may be more beneficial and better tolerated in their partially purified forms rather than in their absolutely purified forms as the accompanying principles have some protective and regulatory effects in general. This and other aspects of allium AOs are discussed in the paper.


Allium disulfides and their oxides; Ideal antioxidants; Non antioxidant effects; ROS; Vitamins C & E; β-Carotene

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