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The Princeton Longevity Center Medical News

Should You Take An Anti-Oxidant?

By Karen McPartland, RD

A recent study concluded that taking Vitamin C, Vitamin E, or Beta-Carotene supplements had no apparent effect on the long-term risk of major cardiovascular events.  Dr. Nancy R Cook, who led the Women's Antioxidant Cardiovascular Study (WACS), emphasizes that the findings apply to supplements only and that there are abundant observational studies and evidence from clinical trials showing that antioxidants from dietary sources are protective against cardiovascular disease. 

Whole foods contain much more than the few vitamins and minerals that supplements contain.  Scientists believe that hundreds of compounds are likely to be working together in food rather than separately as in supplements. Take an orange for example. It contains more than Vitamin C - it also contains folic acid, fiber, calcium and phytochemicals. All of these may also play a role in disease prevention by working as a team.  The bottom line is that the cardiovascular protection and other health benefits we receive from whole foods are much greater than those in a pill.

It's best to follow a mostly plant-based diet with a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, beans, and healthy monounsaturated and omega-3 fats.  If you consistently follow this type of diet, dietary supplements are most likely unnecessary. You may still benefit from specific supplements to help meet your nutrient needs if there are identifiable deficiencies.

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