Vitamin, Mineral, Antioxidant, and Herbal Supplements: Facts and Fictions
The history of dietary supplements, such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidant, herbs, etc., is the history of science vs. snake oil. Free radicals are the price we pay for breathing. We breathe in oxygen and urinate out water, which requires the generation of free radicals along the way. All “antioxidant” supplements are in fact redox agents, antioxidant in some circumstances. Biosynthesis is carried out by fermentation, using live microorganisms or their enzymes, and produces only the natural form, which is the D-form for vitamins and sugars, and the l-form for amino acids. Vitamin E supplements are promoted as antioxidant and immune enhancing. This ignores the fact that immune enhancement may do more harm than good. It also ignores that the vitamin E in plants is 80% γ-tocopherol and only 20% a-tocopherol. Primary food sources for carotenoids are dark-colored fruits and vegetables. Primary foods sources for preformed vitamin A are meats, fish oil, and vitamin A–fortified dairy products.