Explains current and emerging studies on antioxidants which may ward off disease and stop, or even reverse, the effects of aging in humans, but also carry their own risks and may pose a danger to public health safety.
Current scientific evidence suggests that free radicals— unstable by-products produced by normal human metabolic processes—damage the body, resulting in chronic health disorders and degenerative changes associated with aging. Nutritional products on the market today promise antioxidants can reduce—possibly even reverse—damage caused by these free radicals. If true, that would mean less chronic disease and premature aging, at the very least. But are antioxidants indeed the new Fountain of Youth? Media reports extol antioxidants as the solution to disease and aging, and some studies do seem to back up those reports. Yet the studies that have been completed are far from conclusive, and taking antioxidant supplements can be dangerous. This book explores current thinking, analyzes studies, and answers the questions: What are antioxidants? What do they do? Is there any real benefit to taking them as supplements? Are there real dangers for me?
Media report preliminary and conflicting scientific studies on antioxidants, notwithstanding the fact that the final analysis about their effectiveness and safety is incomplete. The result is increasing sales of dietary supplements and so-called functional foods or nutraceuticals that are not regulated, nor proven, and a possible public safety crisis from hypersupplementation. Milbury and Richer bring us up to date, sharing nuances and emerging news regarding antioxidants—and their dangers. Understanding the Antioxidant Controversy is an educated consumers' and health professionals' guide to this controversial topic.
Reviews "Packed with information, this slim volume places the subject of antioxidants in a broader context. Early chapters provide detailed, well-referenced discussions of dietary supplement and nutrition topics, including scientific history, regulatory and legal aspects, and epidemiology. Research scientist Milbury (Tufts) and dietitian Richer (Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, MA) then describe the oxidation process. Readers will need some background in chemistry to follow this section, which quickly becomes quite complex. Having explained the vast size and controversies of antioxidant research, the authors summarize the most important findings. Recommendations follow for many popular supplements, including vitamins C and E, carotenoids, flavonoids, and selenium. Extensive tables compare current dietary guidelines. Supplementing the text are diagrams, a glossary, a recommended Web sites list, and hundreds of references. Although many books deal with antioxidant supplements, the majority are written for a general audience and do not address the science, history, and regulatory issues....Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through health professionals; researchers from various disciplines."—Choice
Endorsements "This volume represents an up-to-date and comprehensive reference on an important and sometimes confusing topic....Welcome information for health practitioners and anyone else who is trying to understand the conflicting messages that have come out on these intriguing compounds. With a thorough review of the data and critical interpretation, this book is timely, authoritative and necessary... Health practitioners will find the information contained in this book to be interesting and important when counseling their patients on diets, as well as when and how much to take of antioxidant dietary supplements. Reliable nutritional advice for patients can only be given by health practitioners who are well-informed, and it is this book that provides the information needed on antioxidants."—Robert M. Russell, MD Director, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center
"More reports are coming out in scientific journals showing a lack of benefit from antioxidant vitamin supplements, and some have reported harm. Milbury and Richer carefully pick their way through this minefield of conflicting and confusing results. The book is extensively documented, with an extensive bibliography that cites many fascinating works, some of which have been overlooked by other writers."—Paul Ernsberger, Ph.D. Department of Nutrition, Case Western Reserve University