Antioxidants Aid in Healthy Aging

A recent study reveals that antioxidants may play a role in healthy aging. Antioxidants are beneficial nutrients naturally found in various foods that can help prevent a wide range of diseases. Their claim to fame is their ability to fight free radicals—highly unstable forms of oxygen—and, in the process, prevent oxidative stress that can lead to aging and disease ranging from macular degeneration and cataracts to Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.As you age, boosting your antioxidant intake becomes even more important because your body’s natural defenses against free radicals weaken. Certain lifestyle choices and environmental factors can also increase free radicals, such as smoking, sunbathing and exposure to toxins.

In this study, researchers aimed to investigate the aging of older French adults five years after a period of taking daily antioxidant supplements.

Between the years of 1994 and 2002, the participants received either placebo tablets or a combination of antioxidant nutrients, including:

  • Vitamin C (120 mg)
  • Beta-carotene (6 mg)
  • Vitamin E (30 mg)
  • Selenium (100 µg)
  • Zinc (20 mg)

Then between 2007 and 2009, the researchers assessed how the seniors were aging. Among other factors, they evaluated the presence or absence of major disease and physical and cognitive function.

They found that supplementation with antioxidants “was associated with a greater healthy aging probability among men” but not women.

Even so, they emphasized the beneficial role antioxidants may have in healthy aging in both genders—and boosting levels of those antioxidants may simply mean eating more fruits and vegetables. They concluded, “An adequate supply of antioxidant nutrients (equivalent to quantities provided by a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables) may have a beneficial role for healthy aging.”

Assmann KE, et al. Am J Epidemiol. 2015 Oct 15;182(8):694-704.

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