Are Antioxidant Supplements for You?

What is the buzz about antioxidants? And what do the words free radicals and reactive oxygen species mean? Do you need to consume antioxidant food supplements? 

This blog post will answer all these questions. The post will also provide the potential health benefits of the antioxidant supplements vitamins C &E, zinc, resveratrol, OPC and glutathione. 

Did you know that oxygen is an element that is indispensable for life? Oxygen accounts for approximately 65% of the human body by weight! (1) It is an important source of energy for cellular functions, providing almost 5 kcal of energy per litre (1).  

What are free radicals and how are they produced? 

Unfortunately though, as with all good things, too much of oxygen can also be harmful to our bodies under certain conditions. As a by-product of metabolism, many unstable and highly reactive molecules called ‘free radicals’ are produced. When paired with oxygen, these ‘reactive oxygen species (ROS)’, can attack important macromolecules leading to cell damage and the disruption of cellular equilibrium (2). This includes damaging lipids, nucleic acids and proteins.  

As mentioned above, free radicals can be derived from normal essential metabolic processes in the human body. ROS can also be produced due to external sources such as exposure to X-rays, ozone, cigarette smoking, air pollutants, and industrial chemicals (2). 

The accumulation of cellular damage due to free radicals can lead to diseases such as cancer and heart disease (2). The accumulation of free radical-damage also leads to the normal signs and symptoms of ageing such as wrinkling of the skin. 

What is an antioxidant? 

As the name suggests, an antioxidant is a molecule that counters the production of ROS and the damage that they cause. By neutralizing free radicals, antioxidants reduce their capacity to cause cellular damage (2).  

Early research focused on the use of antioxidants in preventing unsaturated fats from becoming rancid (2). However, it was the identification of vitamins A, C, and E as antioxidants that led to the realization of the importance of antioxidants in the biochemistry of living organisms. 

Should you take antioxidant supplements? 

Oxidative stress arises as a result of an imbalance between free radical production and antioxidant defenses (2).  As mentioned earlier, as one ages, this balance moves more in the favour of the free radicals. It is recommended, therefore, to bolster the body’s antioxidant defenses through external intake.  

Further, micronutrients like vitamin C and vitamin E cannot be synthesized by the body. However, since they are such powerful oxygen scavengers, it makes sense to supply them through supplementation. 

What antioxidant supplements should you consume? 

Vitamin C  

Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a reducing agent. It can directly neutralize ROS such as hydrogen peroxide (2). Due to its potent antioxidant properties, vitamin C is able to save DNA, proteins and lipids from oxidative damage (3).   

Vitamin C supplements usually contain ascorbic acid or its salts such as sodium ascorbate. These salts are more stable in water and provide almost 88 – 90 % of ascorbic acid.  

Standard formulations of our liquid liposomal vitamin C use sodium ascorbate as the active ingredient. This was found to be 12-times more bioavailable than a non-liposomal, tablet form of the same dosage.  

Contact us to find out more about our vitamin C bioavailability study.  

Vitamin E  

Did you know that research into how vitamin E prevents the process of lipid peroxidation led to the realization of the importance of antioxidants in the biochemistry of living organisms (2)?  

Did you also know that vitamin E is not just one compound? It is, in fact, the collective name for a set of eight fat-soluble tocopherols and tocotrienols. Of these, α-tocopherol has been most studied since it has the highest bioavailability. This is due to the fact that the body preferentially absorbs and metabolizes this form (2). 

Vitamin E protects cell membranes from oxidation by reacting with lipid radicals (2). This neutralization reaction removes other free radical intermediates and prevents the reaction from continuing.   

Vitamin E also protects DNA, proteins and lipids from oxidative damage (3). 

Zinc  

Zinc is a potent antioxidant. Zinc is also a co-factor in several antioxidant enzymes. Thus, zinc has a far-reaching effect on the prevention of oxidation stress in cells (3). In this regard, zinc supplementation has been studied in preventing several diseases associated with oxidative damage including age-related eye disease (4). 

Since the body does not have a tissue reservoir for zinc (5), supplementation up to a maximum of 25 mg/day is recommended (6). It has been scientifically proven that phytates in our diet can restrict the absorption of dietary zinc (7). Therefore, we recommend the liposomal encapsulation of zinc to overcome this barrier to supplementation.  

You can read more about liposomes and bioavailability here.   

Resveratrol  

Resveratrol is one of the most-researched plant chemicals found particularly in grapes, blueberries, and peanuts (8). This research has proven its health benefits to include direct antioxidant activity and a reduction of oxidative stress. This is especially useful in preventing UV-induced skin damage (9), age-related heart diseases (10) and age-related cognitive decline (11).  

Since resveratrol is rapidly metabolized and eliminated, conventional supplementation results in a low bioavailability (8). Because the encapsulation of resveratrol offers a potential approach to enhance its solubility (12), we propose that the liposomal form of this antioxidant will also increase its bioavailability 

OPC  

Oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) are a class of plant-derived polyphenols. It is one of the super antioxidants found in the grape seed pomace (13).   

The low solubility and low stability in biological fluids results in OPCs having minimal oral bioavailablity. Scientific reports have shown that this can be improved by liposomal encapsulation (13). Further, encapsulation does not affect their antioxidant power.  

Talk to us and have us produce your liposomal OPC formulation.  

Glutathione 

Glutathione is naturally produced and is used by the body as an antioxidant during normal metabolism. The maintenance of optimal levels of glutathione may, therefore, be an important strategy for the prevention of oxidative stress-related diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer (14).   

Liposomal glutathione supplementation has especially been demonstrated to elevate cellular glutathione levels and reduce the biomarkers of oxidative stress (14). These beneficial effects are also completely non-toxic (15).   

PlantaCorp’s own liquid liposomal glutathione formulation increased plasma glutathione levels by almost 64-times as compared to a non-liposomal formulation.   

Contact us to find out more about our liposomal glutathione bioavailability study.    

What are the benefits of antioxidant supplements? 

Research suggests that free radicals have a significant influence on aging, inflammation and certain diseases. The optimal intake of antioxidant nutrients through supplements may, thus, contribute to an enhanced quality of life (2). 

What is the market trend with respect to antioxidant supplements? 

The global antioxidants market was estimated at to reach USD 485.17 million by 2021 (16). There is, especially, a strong preference for natural antioxidants due to their minimal side effects. 

Key takeaways 

  • ‘Free radicals’ or ‘reactive oxygen species (ROS)’, can damage lipids, nucleic acids and proteins. 
  • Antioxidants reduce the capacity of free radicals to cause cellular damage. This capacity reduces with age. Antioxidant supplements are thus, recommended. 
  • Vitamin C protects DNA, proteins and lipids from oxidative damage. 
  • Vitamin E neutralizes free radical intermediates. 
  • Zinc is itself a potent antioxidant. It is also a co-factor of several antioxidant enzymes. 
  • Resveratrol is a plant extract that can prevent UV-induced skin damage, age-related heart diseases and age-related cognitive decline. 
  • OPC is a super antioxidant. 
  • The maintenance of optimal levels of glutathione may be an important strategy for the prevention of oxidative stress-related diseases. 

References 

  1. [Online] PubChem compound summary: Oxygen. National Library of Medicine. [Accessed on 14.09.2022] 
  2. Lobo V, Patil A, Phatak A, Chandra N. Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health. Pharmacogn Rev. 2010;4(8):118-26. 
  3. [Online] EU register of nutrition and health claims (v.3.6).  
  4. [Online] Zinc. Micronutrient Information Center. Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. [Accessed on 14.09.2022] 
  5. Hernández-Camacho JD, Vicente-García C, Parsons DS, Navas-Enamorado I. Zinc at the crossroads of exercise and proteostasis. Redox Biol. 2020;35:101529.    
  6. [Online] EFSA: DRV finder [Accessed on 14.09.2022] 
  7. Udechukwu MC, Collins SA, Udenigwe CC. Prospects of enhancing dietary zinc bioavailability with food-derived zinc-chelating peptides. Food Funct. 2016;7(10):4137-4144.  
  8. [Online] Resveratrol. Micronutrient Information Center. Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. [Accessed on 14.09.2022] 
  9. Ratz-Łyko A, Arct J. Resveratrol as an active ingredient for cosmetic and dermatological applications: a review. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2019;21(2):84-90. 
  10. Zhou DD, Luo M, Huang SY, Saimaiti A, Shang A, Gan RY, Li HB. Effects and Mechanisms of Resveratrol on Aging and Age-Related Diseases. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2021;2021:9932218. 
  11. Griñán-Ferré C, Bellver-Sanchis A, Izquierdo V, Corpas R, Roig-Soriano J, Chillón M, Andres-Lacueva C, Somogyvári M, Sőti C, Sanfeliu C, Pallàs M. The pleiotropic neuroprotective effects of resveratrol in cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease pathology: From antioxidant to epigenetic therapy. Ageing Res Rev. 2021;67:101271.  
  12. Chimento A, De Amicis F, Sirianni R, Sinicropi MS, Puoci F, Casaburi I, Saturnino C, Pezzi V. Progress to Improve Oral Bioavailability and Beneficial Effects of Resveratrol. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2019; 20(6):1381 
  13. Manca ML, Casula E, Marongiu F, Bacchetta G, Sarais G, Zaru M, Escribano-Ferrer E, Peris JE, Usach I, Fais S, Scano A, Orrù G, Maroun RG, Fadda AM, Manconi M. From waste to health: sustainable exploitation of grape pomace seed extract to manufacture antioxidant, regenerative and prebiotic nanovesicles within circular economy. Sci Rep. 2020;10(1):14184. 
  14. Sinha R, Sinha I, Calcagnotto A, Trushin N, Haley JS, Schell TD, Richie JP Jr. Oral supplementation with liposomal glutathione elevates body stores of glutathione and markers of immune function. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2018;72(1):105-111. 
  15. Zeevalk GD, Bernard LP, Guilford FT. Liposomal-glutathione provides maintenance of intracellular glutathione and neuroprotection in mesencephalic neuronal cells. Neurochem Res. 2010;35(10):1575-87.  
  16. Global Antioxidants Market, Forecast to 2021. Frost & Sullivan.