Antioxidant Research:
How Do You Know What to Believe?

Fundamental Problems with Antioxidant Research

Antioxidant research is an inexact science, full of contradictions. There are several reasons why: we are all unique individuals, our bodies all have different metabolisms and our emotional makeups are as different as you can imagine. Our bodies react to different foods in different ways. Nutrients in our food and food supplements all work together in many ways that we don't even understand yet.

If you investigate any antioxidant research thoroughly enough, you will discover opposing viewpoints, often equally convincing. Antioxidant studies may provide us with theories and possibilities about the benefits of diet and nutrition, but they cannot provide absolute judgments on any particular diet, individual nutrient, or supplementation program.

It's difficult to evaluate the immediate health effects of a single, specific antioxidant, since such a large number of them may occur in a single food. For example, over sixty different chemically distinct flavonoids are known to occur in a glass of red wine. These nutrients aren't designed to work independently, and can't be assessed that way. The principal benefits of antioxidants seem to come from the consumption of a wide array of them.

See my page on How do antioxidants work? to learn more about this.

Fundamental Truths About Nutrition

1. There's No Magic Bullet. If someone tells you that a certain diet or a single product is the answer to all your health problems, take that advice with a grain of salt. A particular regimen may work well for some people, but it will never for everyone. The information you'll find here can be a good place to start, but you should gauge your body's own response to any change in diet. Continually experimenting and monitoring yourself is the best guideline for your health. Pay attention to what you eat and how your body responds!

2. Nutrition Does Makes a Difference! While it may take some observation, research, experimentation and dedication on your part, giving your body all of the nutrients it needs is the only way for you to thrive and maintain really good health throughout your lifespan. Nutrition not only makes a huge difference in how you feel, nutrition can heal.

Treating your symptoms with
prescription drugs does not address
the underlying root cause of the problem,
and doesn't heal or cure anything.

Ironically, the FDA has mandated that only drugs can claim to cure diseases. Nutritional companies are not allowed to make medical claims for any of their products. However, the only thing you need to know about the FDA is that its primary goal, if you judge by their actions, is to protect the profits of the food and pharmaceutical industries — not the health of the consumer!

What Do the Media
and Medical Community Say
About Nutritional Supplements?

The idea that you can have better health by adding nutritional supplements to your daily diet is generally downplayed by the food and healthcare industries.

We are told that our food supply contains everything we need for good nutrition, and any studies that contradict this are generally dismissed as inconclusive. Further research is needed, they claim, before we should try those alternatives.

USDA Recommended Daily Allowances are set artificially low. The nutritional RDA for nutrients have been calculated using short-term studies and were designed to be a minimum requirement for average health for the average person. These recommendations are insufficient for anyone wanting to achieve optimal health, including a strong immune system, freedom from degenerative diseases and a longer lifespan.

Put another way, if you consume just the recommended allowance of nutrients and no more, you will increase your risk for heart disease, cancer, arthritis and a host of other "normal" diseases associated with aging.

Major media outlets give you biased and filtered information. If you monitor the reporting of nutritional information that you find in the mainstream media, you will discover an inherent bias against nutritional supplementation. Nutritional approaches above and beyond what is "normal" are dismissed as scams. This is not an accident.

Major media outlets are owned and funded by large corporate interests, including the food and pharmaceutical industries. Protecting and increasing profits is their primary goal. These profits come from selling you cheap processed food (often promoted as being good for you) which creates a diseased population. This in turn creates an ever-wider demand for healthcare services, pharmaceutical drugs and other medical treatments. This is the true scam being perpetrated.

Does the Pharmaceutical Industry
Influence How Medical Journals Report
on Antioxidant Research?

One of the ways to evaluate the objectivity of any antioxidant research study is to track down the sponsor of the study. It’s well known that studies paid for by the pharmaceutical industry (or conducted by researchers with industry ties) tend to favor corporate interests. This is not always easy to determine, as the funding is often disguised through official-sounding organizations who are actually a part of a large corporation.

Medical journals are hardly unbiased. Statistical researchers have investigated the relationship between pharmaceutical advertising and articles regarding dietary supplements in medical journals. Their analysis revealed the following:

1. Journals with the most pharmaceutical ads published significantly fewer articles about dietary supplements than other journals.

2. The percentage of major articles concluding that dietary supplements were unsafe was 4% in journals with the fewest pharmaceutical ads and 67% among those with the most pharmaceutical ads.

3. The percentage of articles that found that dietary supplements were ineffective was almost twice as high among journals with more pharmaceutical ads.

Dietary supplements compete directly against prescription drugs. It's simply in the financial interest of pharmaceutical companies to encourage negative dietary supplement studies to be published in influential medical journals, to the exclusion of positive studies.

A major reason why
many conventional doctors are
biased against dietary supplements
is because the journals they read seldom
publish the favorable studies
done on them.

Read more about How Corrupt Drug Companies Manipulate Your Doctor, written by Dr. Joe Mercola.

Scientific Claims Have
Only a 50/50 Chance of Being True

Back in 2005, Dr. John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at Ioannina School of Medicine in Greece, showed that there is less than a 50 percent chance that the results of any randomly chosen scientific paper will be true. See his published report here: Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.

Prestigious journals boast that they are very selective, and turn down the vast majority of papers that are submitted to them. The assumption is that they therefore publish only the best scientific work.

But Dr. Ioannidis' study of 49 papers in leading journals, which had been cited by more than 1,000 other scientists — in other words, well-regarded research — showed that within only a few years, almost a third of the papers had been refuted by other studies.

Another factor to consider is that many of the antioxidant research studies are flawed, and sometimes (sad to say) even rigged to produce a desired outcome. Researchers often use inferior, synthetic vitamins, and frequently use doses that are not high enough to produce significant benefits. You are never really given enough facts about any study to determine if the findings are valid or not.

• Studies also indicate that only about one percent of fraudulent scientific studies are identified and reported. Due to intense competition, fraud has become quite common.

• Two-thirds of the drug-study findings that indicate a drug may cause harm are not fully reported by researchers.

• A third of the studies published in top medical journals contain statistical errors.

• An estimated ninety-five percent of medical findings are never retested.

• Even prestigious medical journals routinely run dubious studies that are tainted by bias, corruption or incompetence, and are rarely called out.

• Research is plagued with surprising levels of sloppiness, bias and other distortions. In addition, different researchers who are studying the same thing often end up measuring different things in different ways, and in very different sorts of people.

"It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.”

Marcia Angell MD
New York Review of Books, Jan 15, 2009

With all that being said, it's clear that, while antioxidant research studies can certainly be of value, you shouldn't take any of their conclusions too seriously.

If I have just one piece of advice, it would be to take every bit of nutritional information, no matter what side it takes, with a grain of salt. That includes everything on this website!

My Own Experience with
Nutritional Science

Personally, I've been taking nutritional supplements, and lots of them, for over 30 years. I've continually changed my regimen as I learned more, but have taken them continuously over that time. I don't feel as though I need scientific studies to "prove" that they work.

What's interesting to me is that I can't point to any one supplement or dietary change that made an instant and significant impact on my health (I started this journey, in excellent health, back in my late 20's). However, I'm certainly glad now that I choose a path of good nutrition and the judicious use of supplements when I did!

When my dad was the same age as I am today, he was permanently bedridden with circulatory problems. That was my motivation to educate myself on nutritional health and disease prevention, so that I would not end up the same way.

Everything I learned and put into practice has produced great results, and made me into a believer of the benefits of nutrition and nutritional supplements. That's what eventually led to the creation of this website.

I invite you to use the information here to improve your health and protect yourself from chronic diseases. Subscribe to my newsletter and you'll get regular delivery of information that I promise will really make a difference in your health.

For general information on antioxidants, try the following pages:

Benefits of Antioxidants

Antioxidant Facts

How Do Antioxidants Work?

Antioxidant Supplements

Antioxidants Home Page from Antioxidant Research