Supplemental Antioxidants: A Hype in Disease Prevention
Do we require supplemental antioxidants in the form of commercial vitamins, what for and how much? The answer to this question till date is not clear. As a result, hype is being created by pharmaceutical industry to cash upon this opportunity to promote sales of supplemental antioxidants. It has been observed that antioxidants are two edge sword, at high concentration it has destructive role and may also lead to cancer. Although, various animal studies have established role of antioxidants in prevention of certain disease conditions like cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, cancer prevention etc. but clinical evidence has been either inconclusive or negative.

Are medical practitioners aware of this fact? Since, patients will consume as they are being asked to take antioxidants by treating doctor. Role of treating physician is vital in this process. They should be made aware and practice of prescribing antioxidants without any indication or deficiency state should be curbed down. Evidence based medicine should be inculcated in routine practice. The other important flaw is lack of awareness on the part of consumer and availability of these antioxidants over the counter.
Large scale cohort studies or national surveys are needed to establish total antioxidant intake from diet and the percentage that comes from supplements.

Any recommendation on antioxidants must be based on solid clinical evidence and patient-relevant outcomes rather than surrogate parameters. Approaches or substances which trigger endogenous antioxidant system might be more rewarding in clinical scenario. Need of the hour is to come up with guidelines or recommendations for optimal consumption of antioxidants. Regulatory authorities, academia and pharmaceuticals should jointly work upon this process to draft recommendations to enlighten and benefit consumers.

Source: JAPI, India