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Mar 6, 2013

Real Antioxidant Balance

Over the last month or so, there have been a handful of prominent stories about the “dangers” of antioxidant supplements from Scientific American, National Public Radio, and The Dr Oz Show.

I’m a subscriber to Scientific American, and I’ve been a guest several times on both NPR and Dr Oz—and I very much value the balanced approach to education that each of these media outlets takes.

What these recent stories covers is nothing new and it's an angle that many of us in nutrition research have been talking about for several years—mainly that "too many" antioxidants can be just as bad for your health as "too few."

What we really want people to get is "just right" amounts, or what I often refer to as the "Goldilocks scenario"—not too hot, not too cold, but "just right." The same idea goes for antioxidants, and I've written about it in my books for at least 10 years.

One guest on The Dr. Oz Show was Russell Greenfield, a medical doctor from the UNC School of Medicine who has the same view that I have about the need for antioxidants to be “balanced” properly. Here is Dr. Greenfield’s article about antioxidant balance from February 22, 2013.  Here is my own article about antioxidant balance that has been posted on Dr. Oz's Sharecare website since November 1, 2012.

I think that it’s interesting that MonaVie's position on antioxidants has always been along the lines of emphasizing “balance” even when numerous companies in the nutrition industry have been touting the “superiority” of high-ORAC and mega-doses of certain antioxidants (when we knew all along that this was not the right way to go). We think that Dr. Oz is right—and it's about time someone agreed with what we've been saying all along! All of our MonaVie products are "balanced" sources of antioxidants, NOT the type of high-dose isolated synthetic antioxidants that Dr. Oz, NPR, and Scientific American all single out in their recent coverage.

Don't forget that the types of antioxidants that MonaVie has always focused on— phytonutrients such as carotenoids (typically found in vegetables) and flavonoids (typically found in fruits)—are not those that are routinely singled-out as “problematic” (such as high-doses of vitamins A, C, E, and the mineral selenium). In fact, the research on the health benefits of carotenoids and flavonoids seems to be getting better every day, with huge scientific studies over many years showing the myriad health benefits of higher intakes of these phytonutrients. For example, both Johns Hopkins Medical School and the National Institutes on Aging have recently shown that higher intakes of dietary carotenoids are associated with lower rates of diabetes and metabolic syndrome (in NHANES, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) and reduced death rates (in the Baltimore Healthy Aging studies). In addition, researchers from around the world, including both Tufts University and the Harvard School of Public Health, have shown that higher dietary intakes of flavonoids are associated with reduced risks for cardiovascular disease, heart attack, diabetes, dementia, and even osteoporosis.

The “take-away” message from these recent antioxidant stories is really the same that it has always been: A “balanced” intake of antioxidants, especially carotenoids and flavonoids, is associated with superior health and wellness—but “too much” (as with unbalanced mega-doses) can certainly be detrimental.

For example, you probably know that high cholesterol is "bad" and that high blood pressure is "bad" and that high blood sugar is "bad"—but you might be shocked to know that all of these can become "too low" and lead to health problems just as detrimental as the "too high" scenario. Antioxidants are the same. Every biological system in the body has its optimal balance point—everything from our cardiovascular system to our guts and our brains. MonaVie’s mission of using science-based natural products to help everyone "Feel Your Best" is perfectly aligned with a message of balance across all aspects of health and wellness and physical/mental performance.

If you’re interested in further details about antioxidant balance, then you can check out some of my recent writing on the topic HERE and HERE where you’ll learn that the main difference between the competing headlines of "antioxidants are CURING us" and "antioxidants are KILLING us" is the right balance and dose.

I think that the overall message for anyone interested in improving their health is to keep in mind that taking a high dose of an isolated synthetic antioxidant (such as vitamin E for example) is very, very different from the balanced approach to antioxidant supplementation that we build into the MonaVie products.

MonaVie products are always formulated with the concept of “balance” in mind, especially when it comes to your antioxidant nutrition, and it’s this balance that keeps our bodies healthier and stronger and more able to respond to the demands of living and working and playing at the highest level possible.


About the Author: Shawn Talbott, MonaVie’s Chief Science Officer, holds a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry (Rutgers) and a MS in Exercise Science (UMass). He trains for iron-distance triathlons and ultra-marathons in Utah, and is always sure to keep his antioxidant defenses properly balanced.

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