Many illnesses, such as schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and bipolar disorder are associated with oxidant stress. Yet, increasing levels of free antioxidants by supplementing with more than RDA amounts of vitamin E, beta-carotene and vitamin C does not treat these illnesses.
Increasing levels of free antioxidants via supplmentation could be much worse than useless. Before iron can be absorbed iron must be reduced from Fe3+ to Fe2+. Antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E , beta-carotene and quercetin could one way or other promote the reduction of Fe3+ to Fe2+ in the gastrointestinal tract which would increase absorption. The goal, however, is to delay iron absorption as long as feasible.
There is oxidant stress in lots of illnesses but this could be due to dysregulation of selenoproteins and dysregulation of iron metabolism which would not be fixed by increasing levels of free antioxidants with supplemental vitamin C, vitamin E , beta-carotene, quercetin etc.
Supplementing with free antioxidants could be associated with very subtle but serious mineral dysregulations which would basically be undiagnosable.
Linus Pauling held that loss of the ability to synthesize vitamin C in the forerunners of humans was an evolutionary error that had best be compensated for in humans by mega-dosages of vitamin C. The difficulty with this view is that the forerunners of humans after the loss of the gene required to synthesize vitamin C had much less vitamin C available in tissues than before the loss. Given huge decreases in vitamin C bioavailability were a great disadvantage in terms of evolutionary fitness then the gene would not have been lost or at least would have once again been selected for. The animal forerunners who lost the ability to synthesize vitamin C were eating lots of fruit but were still getting a lot less vitamin C after the loss of the gene. Gulonolactone (L-) oxidase, the lost gene, is widely expressed in rats. Animals who synthesize vitamin C can synthesize huge amounts of vitamin C.
Even with fruit trees all around the loss of the gene to synthesize vitamin C would not have been a neutral mutation given the high levels of vitamin C in tissuses with the gene. The loss of the gene could not come about through genetic drift in a high fruit environment. A high fruit environment could have been permissive which is not to say that the loss of the gene and lessened bioavailability of vitamin C in tissues did not enhance evolutionary fitness.
Loss of the gene to synthesize vitamin C apparently had some evolutionary advantage which argues against supplementing with much more than RDA amounts of vitamin C now.
Polyphenol extracts are everywhere. Natural flavors are polyphenol extracts. Sodas contain polyphenols from natural flavors. Various plant oils contain concentrated polyphenols. Various supplements are marketed on the very basis that such supplements contain polyphenols, for example quercetin, pycnogenol and resveratrol. Coffee and tea contain polyphenols. Almost all frozen foods will contain natural flavors. Polyphenol extracts are a major difficulty.
This is starting to sound about as bad as ‘electromagnetic hypersensitivity’ in terms of being able to escape the difficulty. Cases of ‘electromagnetic hypersensitivity’ could in fact be adverse reactions to polyphenol extracts and concentrated polyphenols.
Adverse reactions to polyphenols are not immune responses. A difficulty with polyphenols is that polyphenols bind to iron. Polyphenols binding to iron in the gut could lead to inactivation of aconitase 1 in the gut which could have systematic effects.
I have been very strongly stressing the effect of polyphenols on iron absorption, however, there are likely other difficulties with polyphenols for individuals. Polyphenols increase beta-oxidation. If the there are difficulties in fatty acid absorption and fatty acid metabolism increases in beta-oxidation due to polyphenols can not be sustained with difficulties then arising. Even with no difficulties in fatty acid absorption and fatty acid metabolism polyphenol laden drinks should not be drunk throughout the day. Limiting coffee to two cups of coffee drunk in the morning away from iron supplements could be a safe way to drink coffee.