The antioxidant vitamins found in fruits, vegetables, teas and supplements are proving to be powerful agents in the fight against disease causing free radicals. The original concept was to take recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamins to a level that would prevent acute deficiency diseases like the Sailor’s disease scurvy. These are the standards by which RDA’s were created. However, in recent years, research has shown that Vitamins taken in higher doses can prevent sever chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. A debate still rages, but there is a plethora of research being done on Vitamin A, C, E, the antioxidant vitamins. A National Institute of Health clinical trial involving people at high risk of developing advanced stages of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), showed that patients’ risk decreased by 25 percent when treated with high doses of antioxidant vitamins and zinc.
Another study at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta showed that taking Vitamin E along with multivitamins reduced risk from stroke and heart illness. Among patients who took the combination, mortality risk decreased by 15 percent for these two diseases. This September, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) concluded a study investigating the relationship between Vitamin C and cancer, suggesting that Vitamin C may fight cancer. They found, in a laboratory setting, that high doses of Vitamin C injected directly into the bloodstream killed cancer cells. Though the current RDA for Vitamin C is stuck at 60 mg, many researchers suggest that raising the RDA to between 100 and 200 mg would be a great way for people to get the antioxidants that they need to maintain overall well being.
Be careful when purchasing vitamins and supplements though. Research has shown that whole food vitamins, or vitamins with their co-factors, are much more effective than isolated nutrients. Nutrition is a complex process of thousands of chemical reactions within our bodies. Vitamins are always better in their natural state - in the foods we eat. Supplements should never be used in place of a poor diet. The smart choice is to look for whole food vitamins to supplement an already good diet for the times you can't get everything you need at meal time.
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