Antioxidant Peril in NEJM

Dr. Shawn Talbott (Ph.D., CNS, LDN, FACSM, FACN, FAIS) has gone from triathlon struggler to gut-brain guru! With a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry, he's on a mission to boost everyday human performance through the power of natural solutions and the gut-brain axis.

I’ve been writing, and speaking, and educating about the dangers of too many (and the wrong type and improper balance) of antioxidants for quite a long time – at least 20 years at this point. My newest book, Deadly Antioxidants, will be coming out in March 2015, so I’m hard at work putting the finishing touches on that in the new few weeks.


If you’re interested to read a sample chapter – or listen to any of the recent radio programs on this topic – you can do so HERE.


I will also introduce a “summary booklet” version of a portion the Deadly Antioxidants book at the LifeVantage Elite Academy in Orlando in a few days – so please stay tuned for more information about how to get your copy.


Just a few days ago, on July 10, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published a commentary on “The Promise and Perils of Antioxidants for Cancer Patients” which stated (in part):


“It has been proposed that reactive oxygen species (ROS) cause mutations, and thus cancer, and that antioxidants counter this effect, but studies suggest that antioxidants do not prevent cancer and may accelerate it. These findings may be due to the cellular location of ROS targeted by antioxidants.”


The article raises several excellent points that I’ve been educating about for many years, and I agree with most of the major points made by the authors (Navdeep S. Chandel, Ph.D., and David A. Tuveson, M.D., Ph.D., from the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago; and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Cold Spring Harbor, NY.


For example, a growing number of research studies are showing that isolated, synthetic, high-dose antioxidant supplements (including vitamin E, selenium, and beta-carotene, among others) may have a dark side, upsetting our body’s natural protective defenses.


If this is true, why are we constantly told we should take antioxidant pills to supplement our diets? Certainly, antioxidants protect every cell in our body from damage by reactive oxygen molecules called free radicals. Free radicals come from cigarette smoke, car exhaust, and air pollution, but also from exposure to the sun and are even created by normal metabolism every time we breathe.


Too many damaging free radicals — or too few protective antioxidants — can wreak havoc on cell membranes, mitochondria, and DNA, leading to tissue damage and a wide range of chronic diseases, including cancer, chronic fatigue, diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease.


Consuming antioxidant nutrients in the form of brightly colored fruits and vegetables has clearly been shown in hundreds of research studies to be associated with reduced free radical damage and improved health. This research has led to many in the nutrition and health arenas to push the idea that if antioxidants in natural foods are beneficial, then we should take even more of them in pill form. Unfortunately, the practice of “taking antioxidants” in the form of high-dose vitamin supplements is being linked to more harm than good.


However, exciting new research, including some work cited in the NEJM article is also demonstrating how we can encourage the human body to protect itself by turning on its own built-in and ultra-powerful antioxidant defense systems. This internal network of antioxidant enzymes—which is regulated by the unique and potent Nrf2 pathway—is already inside every one of our 100 trillion cells—and its protective properties are more than one million times more powerful than typical antioxidant supplements.


Don’t Take Antioxidants—Make Antioxidants!

This idea of “making antioxidants” (naturally within our cells) compared to the standard approach of “taking antioxidants” (in the form of high-dose vitamin supplements) is a fundamentally different approach to protecting the body from oxidative stress—and might just be the future of how we protect ourselves to enhance our overall well-being and improve how we feel, look, and perform at all levels.


As I mentioned earlier, my new book will be published in March 2015, with a shorter “booklet” summary available later this week – so please stay tuned for news about how to get your copy.


Thanks for reading,





Shawn M. Talbott, Ph.D., CNS, LDN, FACN, FACSM, FAIS

Nutritional Biochemist and Author

801-576-0788 (office)

801-915-1170 (mobile)


UPCOMING BOOK:  Deadly Antioxidants – Why Your Daily Vitamins May Be Causing Cancer and Shortening Your Life (and How You Can Turn on Your Body’s Own Antioxidants for Optimal Health)


Follow me on YouTube

Follow me on Amazon

Follow me on Twitter

Follow me on LinkedIn

Follow me on Facebook

Follow me on ShareCare


The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance, and Reclaim Your Natural Energy (

Killer at Large – Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat – an award-winning documentary film exploring the causes and solutions underlying the American obesity epidemic  (

The Cortisol Connection – Why Stress Makes You Fat and Ruins Your Health (Hunter House) –

The Cortisol Connection Diet – The Breakthrough Program to Control Stress and Lose Weight (Hunter House) –

Cortisol Control and the Beauty Connection – The All-Natural Inside-Out Approach to Reversing Wrinkles, Preventing Acne, And Improving Skin Tone (Hunter House) –

Natural Solutions for Pain-Free Living – Lasting Relief for Flexible Joints, Strong Bones and Ache-Free Muscles (Chronicle Publishers – Currant Books) –

The Immune Miracle – The All-Natural Approach for Better Health, Increased Energy and Improved Mood (GLH Nutrition, 2012) –

The Health Professionals Guide to Dietary Supplements (Lippincott, Williams & Wilkens) –

A Guide to Understanding Dietary Supplements – an Outstanding Academic Text of 2004 (Haworth Press) –



About the Author

Exercise physiologist (MS, UMass Amherst) and Nutritional Biochemist (PhD, Rutgers) who studies how lifestyle influences our biochemistry, psychology and behavior - which kind of makes me a "Psycho-Nutritionist"?!?!

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Solve the 3 Main Sleep Problems
and Improve Your Sleep Quality
without Drugs or Synthetic Melatonin