Antioxidants in health, disease and aging

CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2011 Mar;10(2):192-207. doi: 10.2174/187152711794480375.


There is growing scientific agreement that antioxidants, particularly the polyphenolic forms, may help lower the incidence of disease, such as certain cancers, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, DNA damage, or even have anti-aging properties. On the other hand, questions remain as to whether some antioxidants or phytochemicals potentially could do more harm than good, as an increase in glycation-mediated protein damage (carbonyl stress) and some risk has been reported. Nevertheless, the quest for healthy aging has led to the use of antioxidants as a means to disrupt age-associated deterioration in physiological function, dysregulated metabolic processes or prevention of many age-related diseases. Although a diet rich in polyphenolic forms of antioxidants does seem to offer hope in delaying the onset of age-related disorders, it is still too early to define their exact clinical benefit for treating age-related disease. Regardless of where the debate will end, it is clear that any deficiency in antioxidant vitamins or adequate enzymatic antioxidant defenses can manifest in many disease states and shift the redox balance in some diseases. This updated review critically examines general antioxidant compounds in health, disease and aging with hope that a better understanding of the many mechanisms involved with these diverse compounds may lead to better health and novel treatment approaches for age-related diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage
  • Antioxidants / adverse effects
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / drug therapy
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Diet
  • Flavonoids / adverse effects
  • Flavonoids / therapeutic use
  • Health
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / drug therapy
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Phenols / adverse effects
  • Phenols / therapeutic use
  • Polyphenols
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use*


  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • Phenols
  • Polyphenols
  • Vitamins