t has long been known that people with diets rich in fruit and
vegetables have lower incidence of heart disease. Since these
foods are the richest sources of antioxidant nutrients vitamin E,
The use of dietary
antioxidants in drinks
vitamin C and carotenoids, e.g. beta-carotene, scientists have
done many studies about these nutrients and the possible ways
they help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The evidence for a protective effect is particularly strong for
vitamin E. Several studies have shown people with the highest
intake of vitamin E, above 20 milligrams per day, have the lowest
rates of death from coronary heart disease.
However, obtaining this amount of vitamin E from food alone
is very diffi cult, so supplements or fortifi ed foods and beverages
normally boost intakes of this level.
It is well established that an antioxidant like vitamin E works
by protecting cells in the body from the potentially damaging ac-
tion of free radicals. Antioxidant nutrients in the diet help to boost
the body’s natural defenses and protect cells from damage.
In addition to its other important roles in the body, such as
protecting the immune system and helping iron absorption,
vitamin C works as an antioxidant with vitamin E and beta-
carotene to strengthen the effi cacy of vitamin E as a free radical
Advances in our knowledge of the role of dietary antioxidants
in the prevention and treatment of chronic disease proceeds on
several fronts simultaneously, however, it would be appropriate
to elucidate current evidence for health benefi ts and recom-
mendations for antioxidant nutrients.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
Vitamin C is required for the biosynthesis of collagen, carni-
tine, and catecholamines. A lack of vitamin C in the diet causes
the defi ciency disease scurvy, which can be prevented by as
little as 10 milligrams/day of vitamin C.
In addition to its metabolic functions, vitamin C is an im-
portant dietary antioxidant in which it decreases the adverse
effects of reactive spec