This is part 3 and conclusion to Dr. Saunder’s series on vitamins.

Read part 1 here: Vitamins – Too Much of a Good Thing?
Read part 2 here: Vitamins and Mineral Absorption.

Part 3 is about antioxidant vitamins. Antioxidants offer a number of health benefits, and they have been touted as a possible preventative of diseases, ranging from cancer to Alzheimer’s. Here is why.

Free-radicals On The Loose

This is hopefully a lesson you remember from highschool: calories are energy.

We get energy when it is produced in the body primarily from 3 sources: sugar, fat and protein. Each one of these sources must then be converted into ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate) within the cell to provide energy to function.

Of course, there are other equations that happen, such converting sugar into carbohydrates or fat and the conversion of fat into sugar.

In every cell that energy is produced, there is a by-product: free-radicals. Free-radicals are highly reactive and are “free” to damage whatever they come

in contact with.

As a result of the damaging impact that free radicals can make, it is important to have antioxidant vitamins in the body wherever energy is created and used.

Antioxidants To The Rescue

A common misconception most people have is that we CAN’T get enough antioxidants from the food we eat.  We are told that we must depend on antioxidant supplements in order to prevent the oxidation of our DNA and proteins that cause heart disease, cancer and other diseases and illnesses.  However, the free radical damage is a threat only when we are eating more calories than we use or expend.  Now, tell me – are we an overweight nation and eating far more than we need to?  Absolutely!

You see, the more food we eat, the more free-radicals are formed. Basically, as we eat more calories, we need many times more antioxidant vitamins to absorb the free-radicals created from the food we eat and prevent damage. It’s tricky because it is NOT a 1-to-1 ratio. We make many times more free-radicals than we eat in calories.  This is the reason we are told to take mega-doses of vitamins as a preventative.

There is one very simple and healthy solution to this problem, if you are willing to embrace the alternative:

Decrease the calories we eat.

Food: The True Hero

In fact, research clearly shows that calorie restriction is universally good for the body. There have been multiple calorie restriction studies in worms, yeast, cats, spiders, monkeys and other animals that clearly demonstrate the dramatic health benefits of calorie restriction:

Taking vitamins just doesn’t compete with the right amount of food your body needs.

I’ve said this before, but it is worth repeating.  This is one of those “good-better-best” situations:

  • Taking vitamins is good.
  • Getting your antioxidant vitamins from your food by eating high-nutrient foods is better.
  • However, eating high-nutrient, low calorie foods and limiting the calories you take in is best.

Dr. Saunders

p.s. Here’s a video by Fred Flintstone:


Further Related Reading:

Dr. Scott Saunders is the Health and Nutrition Advisor of Barton Publishing, a company that promotes natural health through teaching people how to cure themselves using alternative home remedies instead of expensive and harmful prescription drugs. Saunders is the director of The Integrative Medicine Center of Santa Barbara, which balances conventional medicine witfh alternative healing modalities to achieve optimal wellness.