Antioxidants: No there there

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Antioxidants are the panacea that has never quite panned out. Pom Wonderful (the pomegranate juice in the funny bottle), for instance, made its name with claims of its extraordinary antioxidant content. Tell people a product has antioxidants and many are eager to lap it up, eager for the benefits to their immune system, complexion, mental health, heart, joints, and just about everything else.

However, as Dr. Kent Sepkowitz, an internist and infectious disease specialist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, points out in a recent article for Slate, there is a wee small problem in our ongoing anti-oxidize-athon: As it turns out, we have no evidence that antioxidants are beneficial in humans. (Though if you're a Sprague-Dawley rat, there's hope.)

In his essay, Dr. Sepkowitz dismantles the popular beliefs about antioxidants. He explains how the idea of antioxidants miraculous powers became part of the public imagination and walks us through one example after another of why antioxidants simply aren t beneficial to anyone s health.

ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross was especially pleased with Dr. Sepkowitz s informed take-down of the antioxidant myth. Like organic and zero trans-fats, the claim that something is high in antioxidants has become a marketing tool, says Dr. Ross, but it has nothing to do with health.