Antioxidant vitamins affect food animal immunity and health

J Nutr. 1995 Jun;125(6 Suppl):1804S-1808S. doi: 10.1093/jn/125.suppl_6.1804S.


Carotenoids (beta-carotene and lycopene), vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) and vitamin C (ascorbate) are naturally-occurring antioxidant nutrients that play important roles in animal health by inactivating harmful free radicals produced through normal cellular activity and from various stressors. Both in vitro and in vivo studies showed that these antioxidant vitamins generally enhance different aspects of cellular and noncellular immunity. The antioxidant function of these micronutrients could, at least in part, enhance immunity by maintaining the functional and structural integrity of important immune cells. A compromised immune system will result in reduced animal production efficiency through increased susceptibility to diseases, thereby leading to increased animal morbidity and mortality.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage
  • Ascorbic Acid / immunology*
  • Ascorbic Acid / physiology
  • Carotenoids / immunology*
  • Carotenoids / physiology
  • Health Status
  • Ruminants*
  • Vitamin E / immunology*
  • Vitamin E / physiology


  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamin E
  • Carotenoids
  • Ascorbic Acid