Antioxidant intake from dietary and supplemental sources associated with improved atherogenic blood profile

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A study reported in the journal Nutrients on January 4, 2016 found an association between total antioxidant capacity (TAC, a measure of antioxidants present in the diet) and reduced cardiovascular risk factors in adults residing in the U.S.

Researchers at the University of Connecticut analyzed data from 4,039 men and women enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2007-2012. Total antioxidant intake from food and dietary supplements was calculated from subject responses to two 24-hour dietary recall questionnaires.

Tea, antioxidant supplements, vegetables, orange juice, berries and wine were the top contributors to total antioxidant capacity. Among subjects who used antioxidant supplements, total antioxidant capacity was 1.6 times higher than nonusers. Supplemental vitamin C accounted for 28% of total TAC, vitamin E for 2.1%, and flavonoids for 1.2% among users. Supplement users also consumed more antioxidants from food in comparison with those who did not use supplements.

Increased TAC from diet and supplements was associated with significantly lower triglycerides, triglycerides to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol ratio, insulin, HOMA-IR (which quantifies insulin resistance) and C-reactive protein, and an increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. In addition, higher TAC from supplements alone was associated with lower BMI.

"In the present study, antioxidant supplements were identified as a second top source contributing to TAC," note authors Kijoon Kim and colleagues. "The results obtained with TAC from both diet and supplements were different from the results obtained with TAC from diet only. When we considered TAC from both diet and supplements, we found an additional inverse association of TAC with insulin and HOMA-IR as well as the association of TAC with improved triglycerides, triglycerides/HDL-C ratio, CRP, and HDL-C. As vitamin C is a major contributor to TAC from supplements, this finding is supported by the report that vitamin C supplementation had beneficial effects on lowering fasting insulin levels by improving endothelium-dependent vasodilation in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus."

"Our findings support the hypothesis that an antioxidant-rich diet and intake of supplements are beneficial in reducing cardiovascular disease risk," they conclude.

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Decreased arterial stiffness associated with antioxidant supplementation
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The results of a meta-analysis published in the October 2014 issue of the Journal of Nutrition indicate that supplementing with antioxidant nutrients could help protect against arterial stiffening that occurs with aging. The condition is associated with atherosclerosis, diabetes and other conditions.

Ammar W. Ashor and colleagues at England's Newcastle University selected 20 randomized trials that included a total of 1,909 participants aged 22 to 63 for their analysis. Studies involved vitamin C and/or E alone, or a combination of antioxidant vitamins and/or mineral supplementation. Arterial stiffness was evaluated via pulse-wave velocity measurement or other methods.

Pooled analysis of the data revealed a significant reduction in arterial stiffness associated with antioxidant supplementation in comparison with a placebo or no treatment. The benefit was more pronounced in primary prevention trials and was more effective among those with lower plasma vitamin C and E prior to supplementation. Antioxidant vitamins were associated with improvement in arterial stiffness regardless of the participants' age or length of treatment.

"The beneficial effects of antioxidant vitamins on vascular stiffness may be explained by the reduction of the damaging effects of free radicals on structural and functional components of the vessel walls," the authors explain. "Antioxidant vitamins inactivate free radicals, reduce inflammation, and therefore protect the integrity of the vascular wall. Furthermore, antioxidant vitamins increase the bioavailability of the vasodilator and anti-inflammatory molecule nitric oxide."

They add that the arterial response to supplementation is different for each vitamin, which suggests that each one has specific effects on the vascular wall.

"The potential public health importance of these findings remains to be tested in suitably designed personalized (or stratified) intervention studies," they conclude.

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The cause and progression of vascular disease is intimately related to the health of the inner arterial wall. The inner lining consists of a thin layer of endothelial cells (the endothelium), which provides a smooth, protective surface. Endothelial cells prevent toxic, blood-borne substances from penetrating the smooth muscle of the blood vessel.

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