Cover image for Every person's guide to antioxidants
Every person's guide to antioxidants
Smythies, John R. (John Raymond), 1922-
Publication Information:
New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
140 pages ; 23 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RB170 .S69 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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What are antioxidants? What do they do? Should you be taking them? How much is enough, or too much? Dr. John Smythies explores these and other questions you need to have answered about antioxidants in Every Person's Guide to Antioxidants.

Oxidants are naturally occuring chemicals in our bodies that derive from oxygen to facilitate essential biochemical processes. However, most oxidants are potentially toxic molecules and the body contains a number of antioxidants for protection against these toxic effects. Overproduction of oxidants, or underproduction of antioxidants, leads to oxidative stress, which has been linked to a wide range of chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer's. Smythies thoroughly evaluates current scientific work on this subject and suggests that a high proportion of many of these diseases can be prevented, or their onset delayed, by proper intake of antioxidants. He examines the pros and cons of the debate over how this necessary intake should be achieved, by eating more fruits and vegetables or by taking supplements in pill form. Smythies surveys the toxicity of antioxidants and recommends under what circumstances they should be given with caution or not at all. He also discusses whether taking supplements requires medical supervision and lists good sources of antioxidants in fruits and vegetables

Author Notes

John R. Smythies, M.D., heads the Neurochemistry Division of the Brain and Perception Laboratory, University of California, San Diego. He is also a senior research fellow at the Institute of Neurology in London and emeritus professor at the University of Alabama Medical Center, Birmingham. A former president of the International Society for Psychoneuroendocrinology and consultant to the World Health Organization, Smythies is the author of 13 books and more than 200 scientific papers.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Most of what is written about dietary antioxidants these days is hyped-up sales literature; Smythies's book is not. It is a thorough and up-to-date summary of what has been published in the peer-reviewed science and medical journals (246 references) on the action, safety, and efficacy of antioxidants, mainly beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E (tocopherols). Others are mentioned, such as flavonoids and polyphenols. Knowledge about oxidative stress at the cellular level is still rather new, which explains the many controversies (just think of Linus Pauling) over how to combat such stress-induced damage, whether food-delivered or supplemented antioxidants are better, what the intake is supposed to be, and to what extent chronic diseases (e.g., cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and heart disease) can be prevented or alleviated. Matters become still more complicated when considering individual differences in antioxidant requirements, undesirable side effects from overdosing, and the very stability/reactivity of antioxidant phytochemicals. One thing is certain: this area of health protection is the new frontier lying beyond the science of nutrition (as we know it) and of protection from infectious and toxic agents. An authoritative guide for laypersons and health professionals alike. All levels. M. Kroger; Pennsylvania State University, University Park Campus