Antioxidants are lacking with age, overweight and tobacco

Antioxidants are lacking with age, overweight and tobacco

In the general population, groups at higher risk of oxidative stress (an oxidation process that is too high and poorly controlled by the body) have been identified. They often have insufficient antioxidant intake. Those are :

  • the elderly subjects (usually over 70 years old),
  • the smokers (especially people who smoke close to a pack a day, but even those who smoke a little less, see those who are victims of passive smoke or even vape…),
  • subjects with a overeating and/or unbalanced and often therefore obese
  • the women menopausal.

These people will have diminished antioxidant defenses, sometimes quite strongly and, in general also, of course, an increased production of free radicals.

Postmenopausal women and oxidative stress

Recent studies clearly show a fairly strong development of oxidative stress at menopause (see the Studies of Trevisan and Coli… in 2001). From alterations in antioxidant micronutrient status are very often observed in menopausal women and even in pre-menopause (Bureau and Coli…2002). This suggests a link between the occurrence of very frequent pathologies after menopause, such as type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, cancers and cardiovascular diseases, and these antioxidant deficiencies.

I’well-known study of the Val de Marne clearly highlighted deficits in contributions and status in selenium, copper and zinc in a significant part of the female population after 50 years. With regard to vitamins, the same study shows insufficient intake, especially among adults (all sexes combined) over 50 years of age: nearly 20% for vitamin C and even 50 to 90% for the Vitamin E. These are vitamins whose importance is no longer to be demonstrated at this period of life.

Elderly subjects often deficient in antioxidants

With age, the frequency of degenerative pathologies linked to aging, to the markedly increased production of free radicals, and to insufficient intakes of antioxidants, increases. The increase in oxidative stress in the elderly, evidenced by an increase in fat oxidation (lipid peroxidation) and a decrease in antioxidant enzymes is well documented. It is closely related to a decrease in intake while the need for antioxidants increases in order to cope with and protect against oxidative pathologies.

In independent, healthy elderly people living at home, the prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies can be compared to that found in younger subjects (Euronut SENECA study, 1991).

However, old age, entry into an EMS (Medico-Social Establishment) and the appearance of more or less severe pathologies will lead to deficits in antioxidant micronutrient intake and status.

Thus, when entering the Minvitaox Study, more than 75% of people aged over 80 and nursing home residents present a deficiency in at least 2 antioxidant micronutrients. Among these, the vitamin C, selenium and zinc are those with the largest statutory deficits (Monget and Coll, 1996).

The vitamin status of the elderly subject, closely dependent on his nutrition, is related to his cognitive functions. The results of epidemiological studies highlight the close relationship between the decline of cognitive functions and oxidative stress. The most significant links appear with the complex of B vitamins (the B9 in particular)vitamin C, vitamin A and carotenoids.

obese people

overweight person's body The obese subject is at very high risk of oxidative stress, on the one hand because of diminished antioxidant defenses, and on the other hand, a hyper-production of free radicals. If theincreased markers of oxidative stress is clearly demonstrated by recent studies in obese subjects as in animals (genetically obese rats and mice), on the other hand, the exact mechanisms which lead to the breakdown of the pro-oxidant/anti-oxidant balance are not yet known. not very clear.

In humans, obesity leads to increased lipid peroxidation (oxidation of fats) and a decrease in blood activity of the antioxidant enzymes SOD (superoxide dismutase which needs Copper and Zinc to act) and GPx (glutathione peroxidase which needs selenium). This was demonstrated by Olusi et al in 2002.

Android obesity, of the abdominal type, is correlated with an increased production of blood markers of lipid oxidation: TBARS. Similarly, it leads to activation of blood platelets (Davi et al. 2002). It is important to highlight that these markers are inversely correlated to the insulin sensitivity.

insulin resistance cell seems to be one of the main and unavoidable factors of oxidative risk. In the insulin resistance syndrome, the exaggerated production of free radicals results from the auto-oxidation of glucose. The hyper-insulinaemia, in adequacy with the fat overload, contributes to the dysregulation of the metabolism of methylated amino acids and results in a elevation of homocysteine blood (Gallisti et al. 2000 and Sanchez-Margalet et al. 2002), aggravating, as we know, the risk of cardiovascular problems.

Obesity also increases the risk of developing, in the eye, cataract.

Poor endothelial functioning (of the vessel wall), which leads to serious vascular complications, is also directly correlated to oxidative stress. In the obese subject, said dysfunction is all the more severe as the body mass index (BMI or BMI, or the "body mass index) is high" (calculate your ideal weight here). BMI is itself associated with oxidative stress.

Finally, in overweight subjects, there is a increased intestinal lipoprotein synthesis (more production of fat-bearing proteins in the intestine), as well as their oxidation. There is also an insulin resistance syndrome and, consequently, a tenfold risk of diseases and cardiovascular problems.

The status of antioxidant micronutrients is altered and modified in obese people. The lack of zinc, for example, is correlated with alterations in fat cell (adipocyte) metabolism, insulin resistance and obesity. Zinc in red blood cells (erythrocyte) and plasma zinc are reduced, while urinary leakage is increased. Decreased activity of the antioxidant enzyme SOD (superoxide dismutase), associated with lowered plasma zinc, has also recently been demonstrated (Ozata et Coll. 2012).

Gold zincin addition to its role as a natural antioxidant, provides very important functions in insulin sensitivity, thyroid metabolism and body heat regulation. Zinc would also be likely to be a mediator in the production of leptin in humans (this recently discovered hormone that gives satiety).

All measurements of vitamin status, in obese children (Morinobu and Coll. 2002), adolescents (Neuhpuser and Coll. 2001), as well as in obese adults (Wallstrom and Coll. 2011), agree to describe levels very low in blood carotenoids (vitamin A), vitamin C and E. It seems that the composition of lipoproteins is also lower in antioxidant fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K).


smoker faceThe biological deficit of vitamin C and carotenoids (vitamin A), resulting on the one hand from inadequate dietary behavior (insufficient consumption of fruits and vegetables, sometimes even almost zero, etc.) and on the other hand from an increased production of radicals free blood linked to smoking itself, exposes them to a greatly increased risk of cancers and cardiovascular diseases.


Oxidation is one of the major phenomena linked to aging. Our body is equipped with antioxidant defense mechanisms. If certain situations such as age, obesity, exposure to tobacco and pollutants promote oxidation, special care must be taken to ensure sufficient (or even greater) nutritional intake of antioxidants, whether be it enzymes, plant substances or essential nutrients…

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