Antioxidants are substances that protect cells against the effects of free radicals - molecules produced when the body breaks down food or is exposed to environmental toxins and radiation. Free radicals are believed to play a role in heart disease, cancer and other disorders, so it makes sense that antioxidants could help protect or even treat many health problems.
A study has found that long-term supplementation with dietary antioxidants has beneficial effects on sugar and fat metabolism, blood pressure and arterial flexibility in patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors. Researchers reported these positive results in a randomized controlled trial of combined Vitamin C, Vitamin E, coenzyme Q10 and selenium capsules.
This new research provides hard evidence that taking antioxidant supplements long-term produces dramatic benefits in people with multiple cardiovascular risk factors.
The study randomized 70 patients who received either antioxidants or placebo capsules for six months. Those taking the antioxidants received Vitamin C (1000 mg/day), Vitamin E (400 i.u/day), coenzyme Q10 (120 mg/day) and selenium (200 mcg/day).
Tests at the beginning of the trial, after three months and at the six month mark revealed that the patients in the antioxidant group had more elastic arteries (a measure of increased cardiovascular health) and better blood sugar and cholesterol profiles.
The author said, "Antioxidant supplementation significantly increased large and small artery elasticity in patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors. This beneficial vascular effect was associated with an improvement in glucose and lipid metabolism as well as significant decrease in blood pressure."
"The findings of the present study justify investigating the overall clinical impact of antioxidant treatment in patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors."
In a separate study by the same team, researchers found that taking the amino acid L-arginine long-term also helped people with multiple cardiovascular risk factors. In this randomized, placebo-controlled trial, 90 patients were assigned to receive either oral L-arginine capsules or placebo capsules. After six months, tests indicated those taking L-arginine had improved vascular health - including a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure.
Shargorodsky M, Debbi O, Matas Z, Zimlichman R. Effect of long-term treatment with antioxidants (vitamin C, Vitamin E, coenzyme Q10 and selenium) on arterial compliance, humoral factors and inflammatory markers in patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors. Nutrition & metabolism, 2010; (in press).
Guttman H, Zimlichman R, Boaz M, Matas Z, Shargorodsky M. Effect of Long-Term L-Arginine Supplementation on Arterial Compliance and Metabolic Parameters in Patients with Multiple cardiovascular risk Factors: Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2010 Jun 7. [Epub ahead of print]