Is There Such A Thing As Too Many Antioxidants?

Shopping for a healthy diet can be challenging, particularly when you've only just begun your healthy lifestyle changes. When you are browsing the aisles of your local grocery store or supermarket, you might find yourself tempted to purchase specific products based on associated health claims. There are a number of buzzwords when it comes to nutrition and health wellness, each promising to provide the latest and greatest in benefits to your body. One term which gains a lot of attention is antioxidants. 

From pomegranates to acai berries, blueberries, and more, foods that have high levels of antioxidants are often labeled as superfoods. Antioxidants have been reported to help with improving skin to fight against certain types of cancers and damage to the body, according to Self. However, before you load your grocery cart with all things antioxidant, you may be surprised to find that there is a limit — after which, these beneficial products become hazardous to your health.

What are antioxidants?

Contrary to popular belief, the focus on antioxidants only became popular after research about the benefits of these chemical compounds found in certain foods, according to Self. The term antioxidants is a blanket term that covers thousands of chemicals, vitamins, and minerals naturally found in foods (via Livestrong). These can include vitamin C, manganese, lycopene, beta carotene, and more. Antioxidants are most noted for their abilities to fight off free radicals, or byproducts of oxidative stress in the body. These can increase the risk of disease and death, as explained by Popular Science.

Antioxidants are found in a wide number of foods naturally, such as acai berries, carrots, and even ketchup (via Self). However, some supplements have been created to increase an individual's daily intake of antioxidants. Getting the recommended daily values of the vitamins and minerals each day can be challenging for some individuals. Supplements allow individuals to receive the benefits of those antioxidants without having to consume the vegetables and fruits that would equate to the same daily amount (via WebMD).

Can you have too many antioxidants?

Antioxidants are a good thing to incorporate into your healthy lifestyle, but it's important to be sure you don't consume too many. According to Popular Science, while antioxidants are good for helping to fight off unwanted free radicals in the body, too many antioxidants can put you at a higher risk of certain cancers and even death. 

Popular Science explains that some free radicals, however, may be beneficial to the body. More specifically, lung cancer and some forms of melanoma are more negatively affected by the presence of too many antioxidants in the body. In these cases, free radicals help to create balance and provide protection against cancer for specific cells. Self explains that it isn't very likely that you can overdose on antioxidants by eating fresh fruits and vegetables alone. Most nutritional information for fresh foods can be found online to ensure you're enjoying your antioxidant-rich foods in healthy moderation.