Do antioxidants reduce lifespan?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 26, 2013 at 8:26 PM

" Reduced glucose availability promotes formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), induces catalase activity, and increases oxidative stress resistance and survival rates, altogether providing direct evidence for a hitherto hypothetical concept named mitochondrial hormesis or ???mitohormesis.??? Accordingly, treatment of nematodes with different antioxidants and vitamins prevents extension of life span. In summary, these data indicate that glucose restriction promotes mitochondrial metabolism, causing increased ROS formation and cumulating in hormetic extension of life span, "


In this study, roundworms with increased endogenous free radical formation due to glucose restriction experienced a significant increase in life span compared to control. Those fed antioxidants did not experience an increase in lifespan.

Are we doing more bad than good by ingesting large amounts of antioxidants rather than letting our bodies own antioxidant system do the work? Does anyone have any studies that may shed some light on the subject? Now, I know this study was performed on roundworms and thus cannot be directly applied to humans, but is this relevant for our species as well?



on May 27, 2013
at 06:58 AM

This looks interesting, but, I don't have the credentials to read it. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691513002895 It seems as though it depends which antioxidants you're referring to and how much you're dosing, as humans can suffer from a deficiency.



on May 27, 2013
at 06:34 AM

As I stated in my post, I know there is a difference between humans and worms, however, I would assume that there is no difference in mitochondrial function, which this study was about. Or am I wrong?


on May 27, 2013
at 01:44 AM

Yeah, but tell that to the 5 guys who downvoted my prison experiments post.



on May 26, 2013
at 09:57 PM

Too bad we're not worms eh?



on May 26, 2013
at 08:29 PM

roundworms ....

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1 Answers


on June 06, 2013
at 10:26 PM

Thanks - interesting article.

It's to be noted that the worms for which the lifespan extension was suppressed were bathed in rather high levels of antioxidants - a 5 millimolar concentration - as opposed to the normal blood plasma concentration in the few dozen micromolar concentration, more than 100x lower. I doubt that the antioxidants in whole foods like fruit and vegetables will be significant; the glucose content in fruit would probably be a bigger concern.

It's also to be noted that unless you're doing caloric restriction, you're not going to get the lifespan benefit in the first place, so there will be no benefit to be suppressed by antioxidants. When unrestricted worms were compared with and without antioxidants in the paper, their lifespans were the same.

It does suggest that those practicing caloric restriction might want to avoid megadoses of antioxidants like itamin C, instead getting most or all of their antioxidants from fruit and vegetables.

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