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Health Team

Antioxidant vitamins may not be beneficial

Posted April 29, 2008 5:16 p.m. EDT
Updated April 29, 2008 10:03 p.m. EDT

— Antioxidant vitamins are thought to undo damage done to the body, but a new study suggests that some of these pills might actually cut years off of a person’s life.

“These vitamins are certainly needed by the body. The issue is whether we take too much of them they actually start damaging how the body works,” said research publisher Mike Clarke.

After a review of more than 50 studies, researchers in Copenhagen, Denmark, found that healthy people who take antioxidant supplements like vitamin A and E actually showed a higher risk of early death.

“There is no benefit in taking megadoses, and certainly from this research, big doses could be doing you harm,” said nutrition scientist Bridgett Aisbitt.

Similarly, a recent study by Harvard University found there was little benefit from taking multivitamins. The researchers said a healthy diet is still the best source of vitamins.

British vitamin-makers responded with new research calling the Danish antioxidant report "flawed."

Some consumers believe antioxidants offer a real benefit.

“They make me feel better. I have more energy when I take them regularly, and I feel sharper,” said Kate Barton.

Antioxidants can be also found in a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Some foods stand out as rich sources, including blueberries, cranberries, pecans, walnuts and russet potatoes.

Before starting a daily dose of antioxidant pills, it is advised to check with a doctor.