5 Top Antioxidant Supplements in 2020

Antioxidants are often used as a marketing buzzword. Is there any science behind antioxidants and should you take antioxidant supplements?

best antioxidant supplement 2020

What are Antioxidants?

There are hundreds, probably thousands, of different substances that can act as antioxidants. The most familiar ones are vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and other related carotenoids, along with the minerals selenium, manganese. They’re joined by glutathione, coenzyme Q10, lipoic acid, flavonoids, phenols, polyphenols, phytoestrogens, molecular hydrogen and many more. Most are naturally occurring, and their presence in food is likely to prevent oxidation or to serve as a natural defense against the local environment. Antioxidants tend to work best in combination with other antioxidants (Source).

Should You Take Antioxidant Supplements?

The oxidative stress caused by free radicals to the body’s cells is thought to be a major contributor to the development of cancer (Trusted Source).

Since antioxidants neutralize free radicals, taking antioxidant supplements have been speculated to decrease the risk of developing or dying from cancer (Trusted Source).

Several meta-analyses, however, have shown that taking antioxidant supplements does neither reduce the risk of many types of cancers nor reduce the risk of dying from them once diagnosed, In fact, they may even increase the risk of certain cancers (Trusted SourceTrusted SourceTrusted SourceTrusted Source).

In addition, several meta-analyses have found that beta-carotene supplements, a precursor of vitamin A, increases the risk of bladder cancer, and, in people who smoke, the risk of lung cancer as well (Trusted SourceTrusted SourceTrusted SourceTrusted Source).

Vitamin A is important for fetal growth and development, but at high doses, vitamin A supplements can increase the risk of birth defects (Trusted SourceTrusted Source).

Therefore, women who might be or are pregnant should not take high doses of vitamin A supplements (Source).

These supplements are only recommended for pregnant women in areas where vitamin A deficiency is prevalent, such as in Africa and Southeast Asia (Trusted SourceTrusted Source).

Beta-carotene, the precursor of vitamin A, is not shown to lead to birth defects. But since taking the supplement long-term is associated with cancer, pregnant women should consult with their physician before taking beta-carotene supplements (Trusted SourceTrusted Source).

As for Vitamin C, all the adverse effects, including digestive distress and kidney stones, appear to occur when people take it in mega doses greater than 2,000 mg (Trusted Source).

Best Antioxidant Supplements in 2020

Despite the potential risk, antioxidant supplements are popular and commonly considered healthy. If you feel that your diet does not provide sufficient amounts of antioxidants, supplements can help to fill the gap. In order to help you with your research, let's examine some of the popular antioxidant supplements in 2020.

1. Resveratrol

Resveratrol is the beneficial compound found in red wine, which is produced on grapes as a defense against toxins and is found within the skins of grapes. It is also in berries and peanuts. Resveratrol shares many benefits with bioflavonoids, a group of plant-derived compounds with antioxidant properties.

In addition to being an antioxidant, resveratrol is also an anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, cardioprotective, vasorelaxant, phytoestrogenic and neuroprotective agent (Source).

As with other antioxidant supplements, resveratrol reduces oxidative stress. Taking 10mg of resveratrol daily (in two doses) for four weeks was shown to reduce markers of oxidative stress, as well as improve insulin sensitivity (Source).

Based on more than 160,000 reviews on MSN, Toniiq resveratrol capsules were ranked as the no. 1 product in their top 10 best antioxidant supplements. 6 out of the best 10 shortlisted supplements were resveratrol based.

2. Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also known as L-ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble essential vitamin. This means that it must be taken in through food or supplements on a daily basis because it cannot be stored in the body.

Vitamin C is able to act as both an antioxidant and pro-oxidant, depending on what the body needs. This allows it to serve a variety of functions in the body. Like other antioxidants, it works by targeting free radicals in the body. 
Vitamin C is found in high amounts in fruit and vegetables, particularly citrus fruits like oranges and dark green leafy vegetables like broccoli.

Vitamin C, through its antioxidant potential, has been shown to improve blood flow relative to placebo in healthy people (Source).

Studies have also shown that vitamin C supplementation can reduce the effect of free radicals produced from exercise (Source).

Due to its antioxidant activity, studies have demonstrated that vitamin C can upregulate antioxidant enzymes in the body, reducing oxidative stress and improves insulin sensitivity (Source).

It has also been shown to be effective in preventing bone loss associated with oxidative stress in the elderly (Source).

3. Vitamin E

Vitamin E refers to eight molecules, which are divided into two categories: tocopherols and tocotrienols. Each of these categories is further divided into alpha (α), beta (β), gamma (γ), and delta (δ) vitamers.

Vitamine α-tocopherol is considered to be the main one and is found within most vitamin E supplements.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that it is stored in the body.

Vitamin E was the first antioxidant compound to be sold as a dietary supplement, which was followed by vitamin C. It is sometimes used as the reference antioxidant compound when fat-soluble compounds are being researched and can act as a signalling molecule within cells and for phosphate groups.

Vitamin E is found in high amounts in foods such as nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils.

Similarly to vitamin C, vitamin E has also been shown to improve blood flow. Vitamin E supplementation as alpha-tocopherol at 1,000 IU for three months was found to increase the vitamin E content of LDL particles and reduce their oxidation susceptibility as well as improve blood flow (Source).

Studies have also shown that supplementation of vitamin E can reduce blood pressure, but only when taken in doses of 160mg or 320mg as 80mg failed to demonstrate a beneficial effect (Source). In addition, only the highest dose in this study (320mg) demonstrated an improvement in the antioxidant capacity of the blood. Effects on blood pressure, therefore, seem to be dose-dependent.

Vitamin E supplementation has also been found to lower oxidative stress but only when the supplement is taken over a longer period of time and a high dose is taken (Source). This study showed that a dose of between 1,600 and 3,200IU daily for 16 weeks was effective in reducing oxidative stress.

4. Alpha-lipoic Acid (ALA)

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is a mitochondrial compound heavily involved in energy metabolism. It is synthesized in the body and is found in meat, fruit, and vegetables.

It is a potent antioxidant because it works with mitochondria (known as the powerhouses of the cells) and the body’s natural antioxidant defenses. It also seems to be able to reverse the oxidant damage associated with aging, reduce inflammation and help to prevent a number of diseases.

ALA is water-soluble in the gut and is absorbed by transporters so it does not have to be consumed alongside lipids, unlike some other antioxidants.

Supplementation of alpha-lipoic acid daily for three weeks has been shown to improve endothelial function as a result of decreasing of oxygen-derived free radicals (Source).

5. Molecular Hydrogen (H2)

Yes, we are referring to H2, the smallest molecule on planet Earth. A relatively new comer in the field of regenerative medicine, molecular hydrogen is gaining popularity.

The publication of a landmark study in 2007, reported in a reputable journal (Nature Medicine) by a team in Japan, discovered that inhaled hydrogen gas could act as an antioxidant and protect the brain from free radicals. This sparked the interest in its potential health benefits worldwide and led to many published and on-going clinical research.

Following the landmark publication in Nature Medicine in 2007, many other studies regarding the potential application of hydrogen therapy on various conditions were subsequently published.

Since the Japanese discovery, the effects of hydrogen have been researched in 63 diseases [Source]!

It’s less known that hydrogen was therapeutically used for the first time in humans in the early 90s. It was given to 3 divers to successfully help them overcome the effects of high pressure on the brain in deep-sea diving [SourceSource].

Hydrogen is the smallest existent gas molecule. Because of this unique property, molecular hydrogen could penetrate into virtually every organ and cell in the body (including the brain) where it may have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, weight-loss, and anti-allergy activity. Molecular hydrogen seems like the perfect therapeutic the world has been eagerly searching for – with very few known side effects and such wide-ranging action [Source, Source].

Hydrogen water is loaded with hydrogen molecules. It was formulated as the most practical and easy way to get hydrogen into the whole body. But it’s not the only way – hydrogen can also be inhaled, injected, or absorbed through a bath [Source].

Related: Hydrogen Water As An Antioxidant - A 2020 Research Update


Wrapping It Up

Excessive free radicals contribute to chronic diseases including cancer, heart disease, cognitive decline, and vision loss.  Abundant evidence suggests that eating whole in fruits, vegetables and whole grains—all rich in networks of naturally occurring antioxidants and their helper molecules—provides protection against free radicals.

If you feel that your diet does not provide sufficient amounts of antioxidants, supplements can help to fill the gap. However, it's recommended that you inform your doctor or medical specialist if you are starting any form of supplements. It's also advisable that you are monitored by a qualified medical doctor. Monitoring might include common baseline tests such as liver and kidney function tests, blood cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure. This is to ensure that the antioxidant supplements that you are taking are beneficial to you and not causing any harm. It will also provide objective evidence to you and your doctor that you are going in the right direction.

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