The Antioxidant Group


Daily announcements about cancer-fighting antioxidants are
commonplace in magazines, newspapers, and television.
Experts encourage us to achieve adequate amounts of these
nutrients through diet. To adjust the diet accordingly one
must know what foods are high in antioxidant vitamins and
minerals. Knowledge is not the only obstacle restricting
sufficient consumption of the recommended antioxidant rich
foods. For most us, our lifestyles discourage proper eating
habits. Vitamin and mineral supplementation should be a
simple and practical solution to insure appropriate amounts
in the diet. 

Nutrients that include carbohydrates, proteins, fats,
water, vitamins and minerals are necessary for our bodies
to function properly. Vitamins and minerals, or coenzymes,
work with our bodies' natural enzymes making them more
efficient. Nutritionists categorize nutrients into groups
depending on our body's use. The two groups of vitamins are
water-soluble and fat-soluble. The human body either uses
or eliminates water-soluble vitamins in two to four days.
(Lieberman 14) Toxic side effects are not a concern with
water-soluble vitamins because the body does not store
them. (Lieberman 14) The body stores fat-soluble vitamins.
Because toxicity is possible with fat-soluble vitamins,
avoid large doses. (Lieberman 14) The two groups of
minerals are macro minerals, the bulk minerals, and micro
minerals, the trace minerals. The body stores minerals in
bones and muscle tissue. It is possible to overdose on
minerals. Taking extremely large doses over a prolonged
time can produce ill effects from both vitamins and
minerals. (Lieberman 13,14)(Hendler 35) 

 Each of the four groups contains cancer-fighting vitamins
and minerals. 

 Included in the water-soluble group is Vitamin C. Vitamin
C, also known as ascorbic acid, boosts the immune system by
enhancing the white blood cells' effectiveness. (Hendler
87) Two other vitamins in the antioxidant group, vitamin A
and E, oxidize less when taken with vitamin C. The ascorbic
acid of vitamin C also may block carcinogens in nitrates.
Adding vitamin C to processed foods such as bacon, luncheon
meat and hot dogs, prevents nitrosamine, the cancer-causing
substance, from forming. (Hendler 85) 

Studies have shown that 75 percent of cancer patients have
vitamin C deficiencies. High intakes of C have shown to
reduce cancer of stomach, colon, bladder, lung, esophagus
and cervix. (Lieberman 106) Inhibiting growth of leukemia
cells by administering large doses of vitamin C has also
been successful. (Hendler 86) 
Food Sources: 

Foods high in Vitamin C are broccoli, black currents,
collards, guava, horseradish, kale, turnip greens, parsley,
sweet peppers, cabbage, cauliflower, chives, kohlrabi,
orange pulp, lemon pulp, mustard greens, beet greens,
papaya, spinach, strawberries, and watercress. Exposure to
oxygen, light, and heat destroys vitamin C. (Lieberman


The suggested dosage is between 5,000 and 10,000 milligrams
per day. To aid in absorption, supplements should also
contain 500 to 5,000 milligrams of bioflavonoids.
(Lieberman 109) Because the body purges vitamin C, at the
saturation point, through body fluids, take smaller doses
throughout the day. (Hendler 93) Dietitians recommend
taking ascorbic acid not mineral ascorbate. Do not take
chewable tablets because they are high in sugar. (Lieberman

Two effective cancer fighting vitamins are in the
fat-soluble group. The first is Vitamin A. Vitamin A
therapy reduces incidences of lung cancer, notably in
individuals who smoke. A five-year study of 8,000 men
revealed a greater percentage of contracting lung cancer by
the men not given vitamin A supplements. Vitamin A helps
the body to produce epithelial tissue. This tissue, found
in most of the body, particularly in the respiratory
system, is vital for healthy cancer resistant cells.
Results of other studies suggest that vitamin A also helps
to prevent or slow the growth of cancer of the bladder,
larynx, esophagus, stomach, colon and prostate. (Lieberman
178) (Hendler 43) 

Food Sources: 

The liver oils of cod, halibut, salmon and shark contain
high concentrations of Vitamin A. Beef and chicken livers
also have significant amounts. Green and yellow-orange
fruits and vegetables also contain high amounts of vitamin
A, as Beta-Carotene. Examples are carrots, kale, kohlrabi,
parsley, spinach, turnip greens, dandelion greens, apricots
and cantaloupe. (Lieberman 58) 


Take 50,000 to 100,000 IU daily of which at least half is
as beta-carotene. Active vitamin A is toxic at 100,000 IU
if taken daily over months. Signs of toxicity of active
vitamin A is fatigue, nausea, vomiting, headache, vertigo,
blurred vision, lack of muscular coordination, and loss of
body hair. Discontinuing the supplement causes the symptoms
to vanish. Beta-carotene is not toxic. (Hendler 48) Large
doses of beta-carotene produce an orange tinge to the skin,
which may protect against sunburn.(Lieberman 59) 

Vitamin E is the other cancer-fighting vitamin in the
fat-soluble group. Studies show that vitamin E protects
against cancers of the lung, colon, breast, skin and mouth.
Research reveals that vitamin E may inhibit the growth of
cancerous tumors. A study on hamsters exposed to
carcinogens had significant findings. The group of hamsters
given vitamin E developed no tumors while every hamster in
the group not given vitamin E developed cancerous tumors.
(Hendler 104) Vitamin E supplements significantly reduce
the side effects of chemotherapy treatments without
reducing the therapy's effectiveness. Vitamin E, A and C's
potency are higher when taken together. Vitamin E fights
against toxins such as mercury, lead, carbon tetrachloride,
benzene, ozone, and nitrous oxide. (Lieberman 3) 

Food Sources: 

Oils such as cottonseed, corn, soybean, safflower and wheat
germ have high concentrations of vitamin E. Whole grains,
dark green leafy vegetables and some nuts have smaller
amounts. Heat destroys vitamin E along with light, air and
cold temperatures. Milled grains lose up to 80 percent of
their vitamin E content in processing. (Lieberman 66)
(Hendler 48) 

The recommended daily amount is 400 to 800 IU for people
without high blood pressure. Those with elevated blood
pressure should start at 100 IU daily and increase
gradually. Vitamin E contains four substances; alpha, beta,
delta and gamma tocopherol. Alpha tocopherol is the
substance most helpful in reducing cancer risks. Experts
agree that all four tocopherol components should be present
in the supplement for maximum effectiveness. The natural
form or D form is most affordable but does not absorb well.
The synthetic form or DL is very costly but is most
absorbable. A good compromise is to take a combination of
both D and DL. Some people may experience nausea,
flatulence, diarrhea, headache, heart palpitations and
fainting when taking daily doses of 1,200 IU or more.
Lowering the dose reverses these adverse side effects.
(Lieberman 67,68) 

Among the macro minerals is calcium. Calcium helps to
prevent colon cancer. Studies show that people who take
1,200 milligrams a day are less likely to develop colon
cancer. (Lieberman 116) 

After only three months on supplements, a test group showed
a significant decrease of cells associated with cancer of
the colon. A nineteen-year study resulted in a definite
link between lower amounts of calcium intake and higher
incidents of colorectal cancer. (Hendler 119) 

Food Sources: 

Milk, cheese, ice cream and yogurt are good sources of
calcium. Salmon, green leafy vegetables and tofu are also
high in calcium. (Lieberman 119) (Hendler 122) 


For optimum health, take a daily dose of 1,000 to 1,500
milligrams. Take calcium and magnesium at a ratio of one
part magnesium to every two parts calcium. (Lieberman 121)
The body absorbs each nutrient more and assimilates each
better when calcium and magnesium are combined into one
tablet. The body can only absorb 1,000 milligrams at a time
so take calcium in smaller doses throughout the day. 

Three forms of Calcium supplements are calcium carbonate,
calcium lactate and calcium gluconate. (Lieberman 121) The
carbonate has the largest amount of elemental calcium
(40%)and absorbs well. Dolomite is a supplement that
combines both calcium and magnesium in the proper
proportions but is the least absorbable. (Hendler 122) 

Antacids have been promoting their products with claims of
high concentrations of calcium. Unfortunately, antacids
also contain aluminum. The adverse effects of aluminum are
"high levels of calcium" that pass with the urine, "loss of
minerals from the bones," and "impaired fluoride
absorption." All these side-effects "ironically contribute
to bone diseases."(Lieberman 121,122) 

Selenium is the most powerful of all the nutrients in the
fight against cancer. Extensive studies prove animals
deficient in selenium have more incidents of cancer.
Comparison studies show an increase in selenium protects
against cancer.(Hendler 185) A study of two groups of rats
exposed to a potent carcinogen gave conclusive evidence.
Both groups ate a balanced diet. One group received high
doses of selenium, while the other group received no
selenium. Fifteen percent of the selenium group developed
liver cancer compared with 90 percent of the rats
developing liver cancer in the group that did not receive

Another similar study had results of 10 percent to 80
percent respectively. (Lieberman 152). Reduction of colon
cancer by more than 50 percent was the results from another
test. Selenium reduces the risks of developing breast
cancer, colon cancer and lung cancer. Significant
reductions in the development of tumors of the ovary,
cervix, rectum, bladder, esophagus, pancreas, skin, liver,
and prostate are evident with selenium supplements. In
Finland a study showed that the risk of terminal cancer was
six times greater in people with low selenium
concentrations compared to those with high concentrations. 

Food Source: 

There is no accurate way to measure the amount of selenium
in food. A good source may be from animals with diets high
in selenium and possibly whole grains grown in selenium
rich soil. Detecting the selenium content in the animals
diet and in the soil may be impossible and definitely
impractical. The refining process contributes to selenium
lose by stripping the grain of its selenium
content.(Lieberman 154) 


Take between 200 and 400 micrograms daily. Look for
Selenomethronine from selenium rich yeast and ocean plants
because this form is least toxic and most absorbable.
Prolonged doses of 500 micrograms or more daily can cause
toxicity. Symptoms of toxicity are "garlic odor in breath,
urine" and perspiration. Birth defects are likely in cases
where extremely high doses are taken.(Lieberman 154,155) 

The antioxidant group consists of five nutrients: three
vitamins and two minerals. The vitamins are C, A and E.
These vitamins when taken together help each other to
perform more effectively. Vitamin C is in the water-soluble
group, thus eliminating the fear of overdose. Because the
body discards surplus vitamin C, take small doses spread
throughout the day. Vitamins A and E are fat-soluble. The
body stores excess amounts. Therefore only take the
recommended doses. The antioxidant minerals are Calcium and
Selenium. Extremely large doses result in toxic effects. 

Cancer research continues to turn up new information daily
regarding cancer prevention. Vitamins and minerals are only
one avenue of prevention. Many factors contribute to the
risks of contracting cancer. Taking antioxidants should be
only one of your practices to reduce your risks. 
Lieberman, Shari. Design Your Own Vitamin and Mineral
Program. New York: Doubleday, 1987.
Hendler, Sheldon. The Doctors' Vitamin and Mineral
Encyclopedia. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990.


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