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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 956792, 11 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/956792
Review Article

Achieving the Balance between ROS and Antioxidants: When to Use the Synthetic Antioxidants

1University of Ljubljana, Laboratory of Oxidative Stress Research, Faculty of Health Sciences, Zdravstvena Pot 5, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
2University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Pathophysiology, Zaloska 4, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

Received 4 February 2013; Accepted 7 April 2013

Academic Editor: Oren Tirosh

Copyright © 2013 Borut Poljsak et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Free radical damage is linked to formation of many degenerative diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, cataracts, and aging. Excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation can induce oxidative stress, leading to cell damage that can culminate in cell death. Therefore, cells have antioxidant networks to scavenge excessively produced ROS. The balance between the production and scavenging of ROS leads to homeostasis in general; however, the balance is somehow shifted towards the formation of free radicals, which results in accumulated cell damage in time. Antioxidants can attenuate the damaging effects of ROS in vitro and delay many events that contribute to cellular aging. The use of multivitamin/mineral supplements (MVMs) has grown rapidly over the past decades. Some recent studies demonstrated no effect of antioxidant therapy; sometimes the intake of antioxidants even increased mortality. Oxidative stress is damaging and beneficial for the organism, as some ROS are signaling molecules in cellular signaling pathways. Lowering the levels of oxidative stress by antioxidant supplements is not beneficial in such cases. The balance between ROS and antioxidants is optimal, as both extremes, oxidative and antioxidative stress, are damaging. Therefore, there is a need for accurate determination of individual's oxidative stress levels before prescribing the supplement antioxidants.