October 29, 2012

189 Antioxidants & Heart Disease [29 October 2012]

Antioxidants are certain vitamins, minerals and other molecules that protect the body from oxidative stress from highly charged molecules called free radicals, more technically called “reactive oxygen species”. Oxidative stress is believed to be a factor in the development of atherosclerosis – plaque formation in the arteries – and therefore heart disease, but is not generally accepted in North America. A recent study from Israel should increase the popularity of antioxidant therapy as an adjunct for the treatment of vascular heart disease.

The study, published in Nutrition & Metabolism in July 2010, followed 70 adults with at least two of these risk factors: smoking, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, low HDL cholesterol, or high triglycerides. They were examined after 3 and 6 months. Half of the participants received daily antioxidant supplements containing 1,000mg vitamin C, 400iu vitamin E, 120mg coenzyme Q10, and 200mcg selenium; the other half a placebo. Those taking the antioxidants, but not the control (placebo) group, had the following benefits:
• significant increase in elasticity of both large and small arteries
• significant increase in HDL-cholesterol (the good kind)
• a small decrease in triglycerides
• significant reduction in HbA1C (a measure of long term blood sugar levels)
• reduced blood pressure

Although the study was too small in number of participants and too short in duration to measure risk of heart disease, all of these improvements would be expected to prevent heart attacks and deaths. The authors conclude that the findings of the study “justify investigating the overall clinical impact of antioxidant treatment in [patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors]”. But if you have some of these risks, you don’t have to wait for more studies before using antioxidants to improve your own health. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you can add these antioxidants to your current medications.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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