Knowing how important antioxidants are to our body it is suprising to find out how the young people may be affected.
A newly published study in Hypertension investigating the effects of antioxidants in blood flow and blood vessel function, which consisted of 87 healthy volunteers (42 between the ages of 24 and 26 years; 45 between 70 and 72 years), suggests different health outcomes in young versus old.
The study suggests that while antioxidant consumption would restore some of the blood vessel function in the older population, it could disrupt normal blood vessel widening in the younger population, and attributes these differences to the status of free radicals. Supplementation of antioxidants in the older population equates to larger availability of glutathione; whereas in the younger population it would equate to excessive availability of glutathione, leading to a reductive stress.
The study incorporated a powerful “cocktail” of potent antioxidants, those being alpha lipoic acid (ALA, 600 mg), vitamin C (1,000 mg) and vitamin E (600 IU). While there is no RDA (recommended dietary allowance) on ALA, 600 mg supplementation is normally associated with those having pathological conditions such as diabetes. The RDA on vitamin C stands at 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women over the age of 19 years, with all smokers needing an additional 35 mg; and for vitamin E the RDA is 22 IU from natural sources or 33 IU from synthetic sources for those over the age of 14 years. The antioxidant cocktail incorporated in this study not only was one of the most powerful mixes, especially given the fact that ALA additionally re-energizes the inactive vitamins C and E, but also the amount of the intake was relative to the upper limits of these antioxidants.
Aside from increasing the available vitamins C and E, ALA also increases the synthesis and intracellular concentration of glutathione, the most potent internal antioxidant, which declines with age. Amongst its diverse properties, glutathione is used by the human body to neutralized free radicals and regulate an important biological process called redox.
While increasing glutathione through such a potent intake of ALA might be beneficial for the “very short term” for the older population as it relates to the elimination of free radicals, improving the endothelial (blood vessel) function and providing too much glutathione is not beneficial for neither old or young.
Glutathione is found in sufficient amount in the younger population, although its levels decline with age. And while boosting glutathione is highly important to the health of older generations for eliminating oxidative stress, increasing glutathione in excessive amount results in an adverse health condition, referred to as reductive stress. According to the University of Utah School of Medicine, excessive levels of one antioxidant “reduced glutathione” may actually produce adverse health results, which might explain why the potent antioxidant cocktail did not produce favorable outcome for the younger generation.