It is technically possible to consume too many antioxidants and cause a chemical imbalance with negative side effects. However, the current research has shown that antioxidant supplements may cause negative health effects, not those acquired from natural food sources.
What Is Wrong With Too Many Antioxidants?
The theory behind the health benefits of antioxidants is their ability to neutralize free radicals inside the human body. Free radicals are ionized particles that are negatively charged and will gain an electron from a nearby source, possibly causing damage to tissue. Because the negative charge usually comes from an oxygen atom, this process is called oxidation. Antioxidants can provide the extra electron, preventing free radicals from damaging tissue. However, a balance between free radicals and antioxidants is necessary for optimal health.
Why Do We Need Free Radicals?
The classic oversimplified version of nutritional biochemistry casts the free radicals as the bad guy, but free radicals are necessary to combat foreign bacteria and activate other chemical reactions such as breaking down food into chemical energy. In other words, taking enough antioxidants to eliminate all free radicals in your body would be bad for your health. Exercise produces free radicals and yet it is one of the best things you can do to improve your health. The oversimplified picture of free radicals and antioxidants is misleading. If you take more antioxidants than needed to eliminate all free radicals, the reactive antioxidants will simply create more free radicals, which could also lead to health problems.
How Do You Get the Right Amount of Antioxidants?
The best way to ensure a healthy balance of free radicals and antioxidants is to get your dietary antioxidants from fruits and vegetables rather than over-hyped antioxidant supplements, and remember to exercise regularly.
“Reductive Stress Linked to Heart Disease.” Reductive Stress Linked to Heart Disease. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2013. <http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-08/uouh-rsl080707.php>.
“Could Too Many Antioxidants Be as Bad as Too Few?” Mercola.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2013. <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2007/08/28/could-too-many-antioxidants-be-as-bad-as-too-few.aspx>.
Challem, Jack. Feed Your Genes Right: Eat to Turn off Disease-causing Genes and Slow down Aging. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2005. Print.