Antioxidant research and dietary supplements
Dietary Supplements Health Benefits
Consumer demand for dietary supplements containing large amounts of plant-based antioxidants has outpaced scientific knowledge on the actual health benefits, best dosages, and risks of those phytochemicals, according to an editorial in the December (current) issue of ACS' Molecular Pharmaceutics, a bi-monthly journal. It is part of a special edition of the journal devoted to research on phytochemicals, substances found in fruits and vegetables, which show promise in preventing cancer, aging, heart disease and other conditions.
Guest Editor Ming Hu issues "a call to arms" for more relevant research on antioxidants, especially in the high doses used in dietary supplements. Many past studies on the potential health benefits of these compounds have been done in animals and their exact effects in humans are uncertain, he notes, without adequate attention to bioavailability -- how much of a dose actually can be used by the body -- and how phytochemicals interact with prescription drugs.
Hu calls for more studies exploring how these antioxidants are utilized in the body, particularly by targeted areas such as the heart and breast tissue. He notes, for example, that millions of women in the United States are taking soy-based phytoestrogens to relieve menopausal symptoms. Recent studies, however, found that a compound in soy might stimulate the growth of breast cancer.