Sunday, April 20, 2008

The New Science of Antioxidant Synergy

By Dave Saunders

Since the initial discovery of antioxidants, science continues to move forward with new developments and new understanding into how these important molecules work to protect the body from oxidative stress and even prevent the progression of certain disease processes. New scientific developments also show that different antioxidants can actually positively synergize with each other or in some cases cancel each other out. Laboratory methods of measuring these synergies have become the buzz in the research world and amongst informed authors as the only viable method of comparing apples to apples, or at least antioxidants to antioxidants.

Effective laboratory tests are also essential in the study of antioxidants as well as antioxidant supplements because many manufacturing practices expose antioxidants to heat and oxygen and thus render them useless in the final product.

The first laboratory tests to measure the potential of an antioxidant was developed in 1993 and called the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity test, or ORAC. Known as a chemical assay, this test provided an efficient means of measuring the effective amount of water-soluble antioxidants in a sample. However it did not test fat-soluble antioxidants and could not test the synergy of antioxidants when combined with each other. Because this assay is also based on fluorescence, a sample could provide a misleading reading if it contained other compounds that were fluorescent but were not antioxidants.

A newer assay known as ORACo was designed to add the ability to test fat-soluble antioxidants, allow for the testing of synergistic combinations of antioxidants and minimize the possibility of false positives that limited the effectiveness of the older technology.

These types of tests are known as in vitro studies. This means the tests are not done inside of a life form. To maximize the effectiveness of any antioxidant, so-called in vivo studies are performed on the body to measure the delivery of the antioxidants to the blood serum after the antioxidant has been ingested. Such testing is of extraordinary importance because antioxidants are ineffective unless they make it into the areas of the body they're intended to go.

Any study-data on antioxidants that does not include both in vitro and in vivo verification that the antioxidant supplements are effective and being delivered to the blood serum is inherently flawed and untrustworthy.

Any antioxidant supplement should therefore meet the following criteria.

  1. The antioxidants in the supplement should come from natural food sources and not inexact, synthetic counterparts.
  2. The supplement should be manufactured against an in vitro chemical assay, publishing the ORACo value per standardized serving, to show the antioxidant effectiveness of both water and fat-soluble antioxidants in the supplement.
  3. The supplement should also be measured in vivo and verified by independent laboratory analysis to demonstrate that the antioxidants are actually being delivered to the blood serum where they can be used by the body.

Any product that meets these criteria can be trusted to effectively deliver the benefits of antioxidants in the manner we would expect to receive them from fresh fruits and vegetables being eaten directly off the vine from a living plant.

As most antioxidant supplements do not meet any of the above criteria, care should be taken to select a supplement that meets these basic quality standards.

As a National Speaker and Holistic Health Consultant, Dave Saunders has dedicated his life to helping others understand how the body is capable of restoring, protecting and defending itself against the effects of injury and disease to achieve better health and a better quality of life. You can learn more today by visiting

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